Bayer CropScience's $14-million wheat and oilseed centre opens

BAYER CropScience's $14-million wheat and oilseed breeding centre officially opened at Longerenong College on Wednesday.

The state of the art centre is the first of its kind in Australia.

Bayer CropScience chief executive Jacqueline Applegate said the centre would focus on developing new wheat and oilseed varieties with higher yields and improved productivity for Australian farmers.

"This breeding centre will inject inspiration and capital into the Wimmera," she said.

"This is a tangible commitment to the future of agriculture in this country and part of a national vision for a profitable, respectable and sustainable agriculture industry."

The centre will employ up to 20 staff.

Construction started in February last year after more than two years of planning.

The official party at the opening included Dr Applegate, Horsham Mayor David Grimble, Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh, Member for Lowan Hugh Delahunty, Bayer CropScience wheat and oilseeds global market head Rick Turner and Grain Producers Australia chairman and Rupanyup farmer Andrew Weidemann.

At the opening, Dr Applegate and Mr Walsh cut a small wheat crop with shears to unveil a commemorative plaque.

Dr Applegate said it was important new technology was developed so farmers could better feed the country.

"We are also addressing the skills

shortage in Australian agriculture by enabling young people to learn from our scientists," she said.

"Already we are seeing the positive impact the breeding centre is having on agriculture."

The centre will also provide training and learning opportunities for students at Longerenong College.

Cr Grimble said having the centre established at Longerenong was important for the future of crop production in the Wimmera as well as nationally and globally.

"Bayer was attracted to the Longerenong site due to an assured water supply and the security this brings to their work," he said.

"The breeding centre will also further the economic development of the Wimmera and will enhance opportunities for industries and education in the community."

Mr Delahunty said the opening represented a historic day for the Wimmera.

"This is a great investment for the community," he said.

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