SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and Grain Trade Australia (GTA) announced on Jan. 4 the creation of Wheat Quality Australia (WQA) Ltd. to manage wheat variety classification and related activities as of Jan. 1.

Wheat classification is the categorization of a wheat variety into grades based on processing and end product quality. The classification process delivers grain of consistent physical quality, processing performance and end-product quality to customers and end-users.

GRDC Chairman Keith Perrett said wheat classification has been a defining feature in marketing Australian wheat to domestic and global customers.

“Differentiating the quality of Australian wheat is critical to ensure Australia remains a world leader in the quality of its wheat varieties,” Perrett said.

“Originally wheat variety classification and related activities were funded and administered by AWB International, but recently these activities have been funded by GRDC as an interim measure at the request of the Australian Government and grain growers following deregulation of bulk wheat exports.

“The interim measure was in place to provide time for an extensive industry consultation process to determine an appropriate model for wheat variety classification, to ensure the needs of industry were met and to enable the development of a more permanent solution for provision of wheat classification,” he said.

GTA Chairman Tom Keene said extensive consultation with industry resulted in agreement on a not-for-profit company with activities funded by industry and GRDC being developed as the agreed model.

“The formation of WQA will ensure that the industry has a sustainable wheat classification system that works to improve the value of Australian wheat for producers, marketers and processors/customers of Australian wheat; and to enhance the competitiveness of the Australian wheat industry,” said Keene.

WQA will assume the activities currently undertaken by the Wheat Classification Council and the Varietal Classification Panel under one entity.

WQA will be composed of a board responsible for governance and company strategy development, the Wheat Classification Council (WCC) responsible for strategy around wheat classification, and the Variety Classification Panel responsible for the assessment and classification of new wheat varieties.

WQA board members include Christine Hawkins (GRDC nominee and WQA Chair), Geoff Honey (GTA nominee) and Robert Sewell (Independent Director and WCC Chair). In the first year WQA will develop a strategic plan detailing the ongoing operations of the company and also additional activities that may be undertaken.

GRDC and GTA will commit funds to the company but industry participation and funding is necessary for the company to be operational.

“Funding will be sourced from sectors who obtain a commercial advantage through participation in the outcomes of the activities of Wheat Quality Australia,” Keene said. “Grower involvement in the variety classification process has been secured in a number of ways. Firstly, through an obligation on WQA to consult with growers via annual regional forums and secondly, through a requirement for membership of the Wheat Classification Council to contain experience in grain production."

Keene added that the company will be very transparent and will continue to have public submissions processes. Other measures will be built into the WQA constitution to provide assurance that growers can be actively involved in the WQA, he said.

“This proposal recognizes the importance of all industry sectors taking greater responsibility for finding solutions, and in working together to improve outcomes, including achieving better coordination of industry support functions," Keene said. “Supplying consistent products increases the marketability of Australian wheat and helps maximize returns to growers.”