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Shannen Barrett

2024 Nuffield Scholar

Growing the case for oats 

With extensive experience in agricultural communications and marketing, along with involvement in the family farm, Shannen Barrett is well positioned to study development opportunities for Australian oats as a 2024 Nuffield Scholar.

Shannen sees great potential for oats in Australia, but says many growers perceive milling oats as one of low value in the rotation. 

Shannen is based on a grain and sheep farm with her partner Alex and his family, farming between York and Beverley, WA, growing oats, wheat, barley, canola and lupins. However, the bulk of Shannen's time is spent in her role as a communications manager at plant breeding company InterGrain, where she oversees the company’s national communication portfolio. 

Shannen's scholarship is supported by the Grain Industry Association of Western Australia through the Processed Oat Partnership, an industry growth program supported by $10.1m of WA State Government funding.

“Oat uses are expanding with oat milk preference and diversification offering broader market opportunities and increasing demand of high-quality oats,” Shannen says. 

"We have a great opportunity to develop a niche health food industry for oats in Australia, although pricing fluctuations, along with genetic gain and agronomy challenges, have impacted confidence and oats have remained a smaller crop.

"To shift perceptions and increase milling oat production, solid and stable oat prices relative to other cereals are required and strong, loyal relationships across the supply chain to ensure we produce a high-quality, sustainable product to meet consumer demands.”


Shannen plans to travel to the US, Canada and Europe – large oat-producing countries – and engage with growers, processors, buyers and retailers across the supply chain to learn about marketing approaches, consumption trends and the local trajectory for oats, identifying parallels and opportunities for Australian growers along the way. The study will assist in developing the Australian oat industry and aligns with the industry's current strategic plan and research priorities.

Ph: 0408 615 431


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