In the late 1990's there was considerable discussion within the WA grains industry about the possibility of moving crop breeding out of its government base into a more commercial industry base, in light of concerns about continuing government investment in agricultural research and the potential for crop breeding to become more commercially sustainable through the powers provided by Plant Breeders' Rights for breeders to gain commercial return from varieties they owned.
The Council of Grain Grower Organisations Ltd was initially formed, with the support of the then Grain Pool of WA, as an Incorporated body in 1997 to represent 10 grower organisations to provide a coordinated voice in these industry discussions on the future directions for crop breeding in Western Australia. When it became clear that the only way growers would have any on-going influence over the directions of crop breeding was for growers to directly invest their own funds in breeding enterprises, growers were offered the opportunity to voluntarily contribute 0.5% of the net farm-gate value of their crop production for investment in crop breeding and associated R&D under the management of COGGO.
To facilitate this process, COGGO restructured into a company limited by guarantee. Since 1997, COGGO has had a significant influence on research and development for the Grains Industry in WA, through investment of grower funds. While early discussions about the migration of crop breeding into a more commercial structure faltered, COGGO has been actively involved in supporting commercial crop breeding activity. It was a commercial partner in the wheat breeding company, Grain Biotech Australia (GBA), until it ceased operations.
COGGO was a foundation partner in Canola Breeders WA, which became one of Australia's successful Canola breeding companies. COGGO secured the rights to the genetic material developed within GBA and enterted into a partnership with wheat breeding company, Australian Grain Technologies, based in South Australia, to form AGT-WA, a joint venture breeding company focussed specifically on developing wheats for the Western Australian environment. In 2011, COGGO sold its holding in Canola Breeders WA and AGT-WA using the funds generated as part of a $3.4 M dividend to members. COGGO has also been an active supporter of the WA Department's of Agriculture and Food breeding programs for chickpeas and albus lupins.