An agriculturalist from Mississippi with 38 years of experience in the industry, Nutrien’s President of Global Retail, Jeff Tarsi, received a warm welcome from growers, colleagues and industry leaders during his recent visit to Australia.
Addressing the National Farmers’ Federation’s National Conference held in the country’s capital, Canberra, Mr Tarsi said Australian farmers are among the world’s best.
“My best days, in the position I’m in, is when I’m out in the field spending time with our producers, agronomists and everyone that makes agriculture happen,” said Mr Tarsi.
“I had the privilege of meeting with some growers from Griffith, Temora and West Wyalong this week. I’m very impressed with their knowledge of and involvement in Nutrien’s sustainability programs, what they’re doing on farm for their soil profile and how conscious they are of the environment and the planet.
“If you’re not innovating, you’re going backwards and, in my opinion, agriculture is one of the most innovative industries in the world. No industry has accepted more technology than agriculture. So, it’s important we continue to be open to innovation and new ways of doing things efficiently.”
With a lot of focus on the disruption and volatility across global agri-markets, Mr Tarsi said strengthening global supply chains needs to be a constant investment, not a one off.
Pictured: Jeff Tarsi presenting at the National Farmers’ Federation’s National Conference, Canberra.
“Supply chains, particularly as they relate to agriculture, have always been pretty elastic but historically they have been predictable based on the economics. There are so many factors today that predicate our decisions around procurement outside of just economics and responding to supply and demand. Social, political and environmental concerns all play into our procurement strategies,” said Mr Tarsi.
“Much has changed with global supply chains and we’ve seen a number of black swan events in past couple of years, that’s why we will continue to invest in the supply chain to ensure we are more efficient in how we deliver the inputs producers need for their practices on farm today and in to the future.”
Mr Tarsi said efficient supply chains require detailed planning.
“Detailed planning and effective communication are required from everyone across the supply chain to ensure we get it right. The faster we can communicate the desire of our growers, the better lead time we have for setting up the procurement strategy for obtaining the goods and services we need to be able to supply for our customers across the world. This respectful relationship and good communication between the farm gate and our retail team on the ground is critical to meet supply requirements going forward,” said Mr Tarsi.
Pictured: Jeff Tarsi and Nutrien Ag Solutions Australia Managing Director Kelly Freeman with Nutrien employees at the National Farmers’ Federation’s 2023 National Conference.
Mr Tarsi explained that planning horizons for procuring farm inputs are far longer.
“We know farmers often like to purchase through a ‘Just In Time’ model for good reasons, but longer
planning cycles provide a lot more assurance and predictability in procuring the goods and services needed ahead of time.
Moving to sustainability, a key theme of the Conference, Mr Tarsi said there’s a lot of education to be done globally before the industry can align on next steps.
“The word sustainability would have to be one of the most popular words associated with agriculture, yet as a global population we’re still so inconsistent on our definition of what it means for our sector. People can talk from 100,000 feet all they want but until it happens on farm it doesn’t matter,” said Mr Tarsi.
“I’m so impressed with the diversity of Australian farmers and their willingness to adopt sustainable practices, many that have been adapting their practices for tens of years or through generations of farming.
“We think the next major step forward in sustainability will come when it’s clear how value will flow back to the grower. When growers can see commercial value in something, it will happen. That might be in premiums, market access, credits or in higher yields from better soils. Nutrien is actively working with supply chain partners to help develop the market signals needed to incentivise change.
“To enable this, we must agree on what to measure and how to measure, using market-approved methodologies. The Nutrien team here in Australia is already measuring environmental outcomes on farm using national inventory standards, but we need better collaboration across the sector to avoid confusion in the market.”
Mr Tarsi said Nutrien remains confident in the strength of the Australian ag industry.
“We have invested more than $500m US into Australia since 2010, when we first entered this market, and we remain very pleased with the initial investment and the decisions we make every year to continue investing here. First and foremost, our most valuable asset is our people and our number one priority in our business is the safety of our people. It really is a pleasure to support farming businesses to achieve their goals season after season and I’m looking forward to my next visit to Australia soon,” said Mr Tarsi.
Pictured: Nutrien employees on farm in Temora, NSW - Scott MacGregor, Emma Robinson, Brendon Mccoullough, Kara Bryant, Andrew Lockley, Jeff Tarsi, Kelly Freeman, Allan Edis and Caitlin Mcrae.