News & Media

New chairman for Grain Guard

Released on

Released on:
Wednesday, 3. April 2013 - 9:30

The new chairman of Western Australia’s Grain Guard committee John van Schagen says he is heartened at the continued strong support for Grain Guard from both grain industry and grower representatives.

Mr Van Schagen is chief plant biosecurity officer for the Department of Agriculture and Food, and takes over the chairmanship from Shashi Sharma, who has moved to a new appointment at Murdoch University.

He has been with the department since 1989, previously working as manager of Interstate Quarantine and director of the European House Borer response.

Mr Van Schagen said the support given to Grain Guard underlined its vital importance to biosecurity in Western Australia’s grain industry.

“The Grain Guard committee enables growers, industry and government to work together to ensure we are well prepared to assess and quickly respond to new pest, disease and weed outbreaks,” Mr Van Schagen said.

“A good instance was the High Plains Virus detection in the central to eastern wheatbelt area last October, which Grain Guard was able to respond to promptly.”

Mr Van Schagen said the Grain Industry Association of WA continued to play a key role in the structure of the committee, through the provision of grower members who each represent specific crop commodities.

“Currently, the committee is made up of grower and industry representatives, along with plant biosecurity program staff from the department,” he said.

Industry representation is provided by a number of grower organisations, including the Pastoralists and Graziers Association, CBH, WA Grain Growers and Grain Growers Limited.

“We have a good balance between growers, industry and government in the structure and function of the committee,” Mr Van Schagen said.

The committee has already held its first meeting for 2013. Mr Van Schagen said the committee was briefed on the Biosecurity and Agricultural Management Act along with current progress of the Grain, Seed and Hay Industry Funding Scheme.

“Senior business analyst for the newly formed Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre Barry Cox presented an outline of the centre’s structure and functions,” Mr Van Schagen said.

“Members were also provided with a summary of the State’s skeleton weed program and an overview of research and development in stored grain technologies.”

Mr Van Schagen said the committee would continue to meet regularly throughout the coming year.


Media Contact: Jodie Thomson, media liaison              +61 (0)8 9368 3937