Highlights from the Australian AgInvestment Readiness Forum in Brisbane; the Growing Queensland’s Food Exports Capability pilot program opening 1 September; and news about Block Chain technology developments in the grains supply chain.

Australian AgInvestment Readiness Forum, Brisbane
CHDC General Manager Sandra Hobbs and I were among 140 people to attend the Australian AgInvestment Readiness Forum held by Bentleys and K&L Gates in Brisbane last week. The Forum provided a platform for some excellent discussion on the practical issues of investing into the Australian agriculture industry for investors and addressing investment readiness for Australian agribusinesses. Some take-home messages from the Forum speakers include:
• The world is looking at Australia for agriculture investment opportunities.
• Types of investors interested include institutional investors, strategic corporate investors and family offices from regions including UK/Europe, North America and Asia.
• There is a strong need for additional capital – $109.2 billion on farm and throughout the supply chain by 2025 for Australia to maintain our share of exports.
• Most Australian farms are not investment ready and succession is a looming issue – average farmer is 56 years of age.
• A big need for the right equity capital and the right capital structures in Australian agriculture.
• Structures in action in Australian Agriculture include joint ventures, share farms and leasing, collective bargaining, equity partnership, pier to pier lending and cultivate farmers.
• Agribusinesses need to determine their objectives for investment and then tailor their investment offer to target an investor appropriate for their objectives.
• Campaign to find the right investors, don’t expect them to come to you. Under promise/over deliver. Go through the investment readiness process early and be prepared for it to take 12 months or more to find the right investor. Be ready.
It was a great day and I thank Bentleys for the invitation to contribute as panel member in the morning, sharing the opportunities of the Central Highlands, and the planning team from CHRC who assisted in regulatory briefings and developed fact sheets.

Growing Queensland’s Food Exports Capability
In the 2017-18 Queensland Budget, Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Economic Development Bill Byrne announced that DAF will deliver a $1.3 million Growing Queensland’s Food Exports program to assist businesses in the food supply chain to build their capability to grow their exports, including fruit and vegetable growers’ access to markets in Japan, China and South Korea following the signing of free trade agreements.

DAF has advised that the guidelines for the Growing Queensland’s Food Exports Capability grants program will be available on the DAF website soon, with Round 1 of the GQFEC Program open for submissions on 1 September 2017 and closing 1 October 2017. The program will provide matched funding of up to $100,000 over two years for each eligible project.

Technology Accelerating Grains: Block Chain Pilot first of its kind
At the Australian Grains Industry Conference in Melbourne last week, there was exciting news as AgriDigital announced its latest blockchain pilot with Western Australia’s CBH Group. AgriDigital is testing the various ways blockchain might be used across bulk commodities, including providing provenance data and matching title transfer to payment. The pilot is going ahead at CBH Group’s oats processor, Blue Lake Milling in Bordertown, South Australia, and is one of the first of its kind globally. Outgoing CBH Group CEO Andy Crane has flagged digital innovation and proof of provenance as some of the key ways that technology can bring value to Australian growers and producers. AgriDigital CEO Emma Weston, said that the pilot is not only proving out the potential for blockchain in agriculture, but also proving that a large player and a startup can work together to solve some of the industry’s critical problems. The AgriDigital platform includes orders, contract, logistics, and storage inventory for users across the supply chain. Read more about the details of the pilot in the Australian Financial Review and Coindesk.
Meanwhile in Queensland, Gold Coast business Ditterich Agriculture, trading as BlockGrain, is also using blockchain as a game-changing tool that helps growers analyse their grain quality, connect with global commodity markets, and manage the supply chain to increase their profit margins. Backed by the Palaszczuk Government’s $420 million Advance Queensland initiative, BlockGrain has also developed an automated platform to enable buyers, growers and logistic providers to interact domestically and internationally. Nine grain brokers are currently trialling the system, each servicing up to 100 clients. The company will soon will release a logistics platform.

Contact Liz Alexander for more information E: agribusiness@chdc.com.au or M: 0429 471 511.

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