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GRDC Governance Review

Marsden Jacobs has provided the Grains Industry with its final report as part of the Independent Strategic Governance Review of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).  The review was commissioned in 2013 by a meeting of industry representatives to look at the GRDC's structural governance to ensure that it is able to deliver the research and development outcomes that grain farmers require in today's rapidly changing operating environment.

The Marsden Jacob’s report has focused on whether the GRDC should remain as a statutory corporation or alternatively become an industry owned corporation similar to the MLA or Dairy Australia.   It recommended that in the long run the grains industry should support a move towards an industry owned corporation.  In the short term the report proposed that industry should seek exemptions to government regulation placed upon the GRDC to ensure that it is not impeded in delivering benefits to levy paying farmers, and that more corporate style governance arrangements that bring greater accountability to these farmers should be implemented.

Click here to view the final report

NSW Farmers' Grains Committee is seeking feedback on Marsden Jacob's final report prior to a meeting of grain farming representative organisations in September where industry will seek to develop a response to the review.  NSW Farmers members can provide the Grains Committee with feedback on the report by clicking here. 

NSW Farmers response to the Draft Consultation Report 

In undertaking the review Marsden Jacobs released a draft consultation report which contained the following key findings and recommendations:

  • due to the dynamic environment that agricultural RDE operates in it is an imperative that the GRDC is commercially agile to enable it to continue to deliver the future needs of grower levy payers.
  • Recently commenced changes to laws governing statutory corporations, such as the GRDC, are likely to reduce the GRDC's accountability to grower levy payers and reduce the commercial agility of the GRDC.
  • in the long term, the grower levy paying industry should seek a transition in the GRDC from a statutory corporation to an industry owned corporation.
  • in the short term, industry should seek relevant changes and exemptions to government arrangements which will realign accountability of the GRDC towards growers.

NSW Farmers submission in response to the draft report outlined that despite the GRDC's government owned structure it has consistently focused on the needs of grain farmers in its RDE investments. The submission also outlined that NSW Farmers:

  • Is concerned that the changes to government rules for the GRDC will detract from its ability to deliver benefits to farmers.
  • Supports the development of hybrid governance arrangements in which corporate style obligations towards levy payers would replace inappropriate government imposed governance arrangements.
  • Believes that industry needed to continue to develop a strong and unified national voice for grain farmers to establish a grains industry vision that includes the role for grains RDE and provides strong accountability of the GRDC to levy payers.

Click here to view the draft report and here to view NSW Farmers' submission.

Issues Paper

NSW Farmers has written to the GRDC Governance review in response to the issues paper based on the following positions developed by the Grains Committee.  They are:

  • that the GRDC's vision of a profitable and sustainable Australian grains industry, that is valued by the wider community remains valid; however that its vision should seek to set an objective of growing the industry;
  • that the GRDC presently excels in its investment portfolio in the stability and targeting of these investments, and strategic investment in short, medium and long term priorities.
  • that growers should continue to be at the heart of identifying the issues that GRDC invest in.
  • that the future governance arrangements of the GRDC should provide the board with the capacity to invest in ways that address market failure in the grains market that may not be traditional RDE, where this is done in consultation with the levy paying industry.
  • improved transparency and independence in the selection of GRDC Boards, Panels and on positions the GRDC appoints to other companies is desirable.
  • that the structure of the GRDC should ensure that its managerial prerogatives to employ the best person for the job, and to manage funds best for the benefit of grain farmers.  If this cannot be undertaken as a government owned corporation, then proposals to create an industry owned service company should be considered.
  • If an industry owned services company structure is to be adopted, it should be established in a way that will prohibit it from being privatised.
Click here to view the submission.

About the Review

The Independent Strategic Governance Review of the GRDC was commissioned by grain farming representative organisations from across Australia in 2013.  The review was managed on behalf of the grain farming industry through a Steering Committee convened by Grains Producers Australia, as the grains industry representative organisation, with representation of the major grain farming organisations from across Australia, including NSW Farmers.  

The terms of reference for the Review are below:  


Seeking to ensure GRDC has a governance structure that will deliver robust, accountable and commercial RD&E to Levy payers in a changing operating environment.


To review the current structure of GRDC to identify the structural and cultural strengths and impediments to delivering the RD&E agenda.

Terms of Reference:

With the scope clearly in mind, particular examination is to be made of:The strengths and weaknesses of other RDC structures and other non RDC organisations;

  1. The strengths and weaknesses of other RDC structures and other non RDC organisations;
  2. Whether potential changes to the PIERD and CAC Acts, or structural change, including but not limited to an industry owned company, are necessary to address impediments identified;
  3. Assessing whether alternative models have the potential to improve the RD&E outcomes and profitability of the Grains industry; and
  4. Identify costs associated with change, both transactional and operating impact.

Click here for more information about the review.


Draft Report 

Issues Paper 

About the Review

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