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Q&A With Cotton Australia CEO Adam Kay

8 April, 2024

Q&A With Cotton Australia CEO Adam Kay

Adam Kay was appointed to the position of Chief Executive Officer of Cotton Australia in January 2007. Cotton Australia is the peak grower body in Australia representing the interests of 1500 cotton producers.  He started his career as District Agronomist for the NSW Agriculture Department in Warren over 25 years ago and has spent his entire career working within the Australian cotton industry.

What is Cotton Australia’s role in Conference?
Cotton Australia hosts the Conference, alongside the Australian Cotton Shippers Association. We provide support in a number of ways, with members on the Executive Committee and the Organising Committee, managing the budget and accounts as well as external supplier contracts, providing input into the program and coordinating events such as the Australian Cotton Industry Awards and the Industry Leadership Dinner.

How do you feel the industry is placed at the moment leading into the Conference in August?
We’re very fortunate to be coming into Conference off the back of three very big crops that each contributed $3-4 billion to agricultural production in Australia, and next season is shaping up well too with a reasonable amount of water in the system. This of course is a great thing for our growers, the industry and cotton businesses, but it also means the communities where we grow cotton are well supported and can build resilience. Big crops usually translates to big delegate numbers at Conference, and we’re looking forward to seeing a record number this year. The ongoing threat of government water reforms continues to loom over us and there will be sections of conference where we seek to understand where policy is heading in this regard.

When did you first attend a Cotton Conference, and what’s changed?
I attended the second conference at Jupiter’s Casino on the Gold Coast way back in 1988. At that time it was very much a research conference, and insect control was front and centre because of the resistance issues the industry was facing. The Conference has broadened out to be a whole of industry event that appeals to everyone involved in Australian cotton, from the growing of the crop through its marketing and into the community. The sheer number of people attending is a reflection of the positive impact the industry has across our regions which is fantastic.

What makes the Cotton Conference good value for money?
Cotton Australia is very focused on running the Conference at break even for the benefit of the whole industry. None of this is done as a profit centre, it’s for the good of the industry, to bring us together and help us continually improve.

Any sponsorship dollars go directly to reduce registration costs for delegates and that can be clearly seen in the low cost of registration, particularly compared to other agricultural conferences. The consistent feedback is that the Australian Cotton Conference is great value for money, and not to be missed.

What does the theme “Cultivating Excellence” mean to you?
It means excellence in the cultivation of cotton itself, and excellence across all aspects of the industry which is what we’re striving for. We need to ensure we have a product that was researched, grown and marketed with excellence, and that we are excellent in delivering what our customers need now and in the future. This can only be achieved by building on the collaborative nature of the industry, which is one of its incredible strengths. The generous sharing of information, and the non-competitive nature of our growers who work together to cultivate excellence is what Conference is all about.

What are you personally looking forward to learning about this year?
While many aspects stay the same, there is a lot of change coming at us right now. I’m keen to understand more about the role of AI and how it may assist us in day to day activities and decision making on farm, research advances particularly in the soils and circularity space, how we can continue to drive sustainability across the industry by maximising input efficiencies and understanding where the industry can mitigate GHG emissions.


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