THE last remaining commodity board in Australia marked a big milestone in Leeton recently.
The Rice Marketing Board for the state of NSW (RMB) held its 90th annual general meeting in Leeton, reflecting on many years of change and successes.
In her address, RMC chairman Victoria Taylor looked back on the early years of the RMB, which is the oldest existing institution in the rice industry.
"As the last remaining commodity marketing board in Australia, some might say that it’s an anachronism, but the RMB endures precisely because it has adapted and moved with the times,” she said.
"Not only is it the last commodity marketing board, but it was the first commodity marketing board established in NSW, officially constituted on November 9, 1928 with the appointment of five grower elected members and two members nominated by the state minister.”
Commercial rice growing started around Leeton in 1924, with eight growers producing about 225 tonnes between them.
By 1927, about 4000 tonnes was being produced and the industry decided it needed to get organised.
Growers requested the state government establish a RMB, with responsibility to “obtain the best possible monetary return to growers consistent with the maintenance of orderly marketing”.
“The RMB was set up to be the honest broker of the industry, to manage the commercial relationships between the millers and the growers,” Ms Taylor said.
“The co-operative that became SunRice wouldn’t be formed for another 20-plus years, so it was the RMB that provided the foundation for the growth and confidence of the rice industry.”
From that 225 tonne crop from Leeton, there are now many hundreds of growers across the Murrumbidgee and Murray Valleys keen to grow rice when water is available, with markets all around the world.
In addition, a fledgling industry is emerging around Lismore, where about 20 farmers grow rice each year.
“The focus has always on delivering value and confidence to rice growers,” Ms Taylor said.