Wimmera leaders laud new grains centre

WIMMERA leaders believe Bayer CropScience's investment of $14 million to build a grains and oil seeds breeding facility at Longerenong College is one of the most significant private investments the region has seen.

The company announced on Wednesday it would set up the breeding centre, the first of its kind in Australia and one of seven world-wide.

Bayer chose the Longerenong site primarily because of water security provided by the Wimmera-Mallee Pipeline.

Wimmera Development Association executive director Jo Bourke said the investment was significant on many levels.

"It will lead to 20 or more direct jobs and will also support Longerenong College," she said.

"It confirms the Wimmera region as a significant research and development hub for the grains sector and agriculture and demonstrates confidence in the region to be able to support staff and the agricultural sector.

"I think it also provides confidence for the agricultural sector generally."

Mrs Bourke said the development was also a win for the pipeline.

"The benefits from the pipeline will roll out over a long period of time and this is just one example of that." she said.

"In the past we have identified the increased livestock opportunities it would bring but I don't think anyone would have thought water security would attract research and development in the agricultural sector."

Mrs Bourke said the facility was also a great example of a range of organisations working together, including Bayer, Longerenong College, WorkCo, Horsham Rural City Council, GWMWater, the State Government and WDA.

"It shows private investment, government and strong regional connections can deliver significant regional investment," she said.

"This will be one of seven sites worldwide and Bayer will be rotating staff between those sites.

"That will add to the intellectual capacity of the region and cultural diversity. It is a fantastic opportunity to get new people to the area."

Victorian Farmers Federation vice-president and Murra Warra farmer David Jochinke said the investment was a massive boost for the Wimmera.

"It is a huge coup to have this sort of development in our backyard," he said.

"It is a wonderful opportunity for Longerenong College to strengthen ties with industry and assist students as well.

"One of the best attributes is the fact Bayer will be working with our environment and our soils, so they can work with the good and bad points of our area.

"It will help them develop better chemicals and plant varieties for our region."

Mr Jochinke said he had heard 'only good news' about the facility.

"I remember hearing about it a while ago and thinking it would be huge if it came off and it has," he said.

"When you've got a headquarters based locally it gives opportunities for farmers to be involved in the process as well.

"I look forward to Bayer having field days in the area and learning more about the research."

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