THE Australian Grain Industry Conference 2020 has wrapped up with a heavy focus on supply chains and international trade.

Usually held in Melbourne, this year the event was held via the Zoom online platform.

A variety of speakers participated including trade minister Simon Birmingham, agriculture minister David Littleproud, former foreign minister Alexander Downer and ANZ chief economist Richard Yetsenga.

“While this was our first time running AGIC as a virtual conference, it’s our 21st year of bringing the grain industry together to connect, learn and engage,” said Pat O’Shannassy, CEO at Grain Trade Australia, which co-hosts the event alongside Pulse Australia and the Australian Oilseeds’ Federation.

“While the format and delivery may have been virtual this year, the insights, learnings and opportunities were all real,” he said.

“Delegates were able to interact, network and chat through the specifically tailored virtual on-line conference platform.”

The topic of resilience and reinvention was a focus of the speakers whose messages included positive supply messages as the world grain supplies are generally solid.

Geopolitical tensions and resultant market impacts were said to be “a hot topic”.

The “threat of protectionism and nationalism” were also discussed and the impact on the grain market including 50 nations implementing trade related subsidies under the premise of COVID-19. 

Delegates heard about the importance of India as a ‘market of the future’ with pulse demand likely to grow as high as 40 million tonnes by 2050.

An interesting promotional video for the Australian grains sector. Credit: YouTube

“Despite the current pandemic and global trade tensions delegates were informed the long-term prospects are still bright for grain,” Mr O’Shannassy said.

Pulse Australia and Australian Oilseed Federation CEO Nick Goddard said the conference was “probably the best I have attended in eleven years”.

Grain Trade Australia chair Andrew Goyder said it was “a great feeling to know that, despite the challenges we all face right now, we were still able bring together our industry and its people”.

“And the added bonus is that delegates will be able to access all of the presentations, Q&A sessions, and resources for the next 30 days,” Mr Goyder said.