Fels takes over grain council leadership

Fels takes over grain council leadership

Grains
Newly re-elected WAFarmers grain section vice president Mark Fowler (left), Williams and newly-elected president Mic Fels, Esperance, with WAFarmers executive manager policy, advocacy and engagement Jessica Wallace and immediate past grain section president Duncan Young, Beverley.

Newly re-elected WAFarmers grain section vice president Mark Fowler (left), Williams and newly-elected president Mic Fels, Esperance, with WAFarmers executive manager policy, advocacy and engagement Jessica Wallace and immediate past grain section president Duncan Young, Beverley.

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The new leader is passionate about grower involvement & engagement & being proactive about policy which affects the industry.

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THE WAFarmers Grains Council leadership had a significant shake-up recently, with long-term president Duncan Young, Beverley, standing down from the role after six years of service.

Mic Fels, Esperance, was the only member to nominate for the vacant position and has officially taken the helm of the grains section.

Mr Young said when he originally took on the role of president, he told the Grains Council he would do five years and re-evaluate from there.

"I'm a firm believer in not staying in leadership roles for any length of time because it becomes stale, plus it allows the council to have a fresh and different perspective," Mr Young said.

In his time as president, Mr Young had many achievements, but in his own eyes, the most important one was getting WA grower representation back on the national level.

"For a long time, since 2010, WA hasn't been involved at a national level with grains and we've made a concerted effort to get back in the fold," Mr Young said.

"Now we sit around the table and I think a lot has been achieved and there is a lot which will still be achieved in the next few years by sitting at the national table."

Mr Fels was far more willing to blow Mr Young's trumpet and said the outgoing president worked tirelessly and committed a huge amount of his time towards advocacy.

"He's a quiet achiever, he doesn't come out and beat his chest but there's been a lot of achievements particularly in the area of access to chemicals and protecting our right to farm," Mr Fels said

"He's also been instrumental for representing the interests of WA growers on the national level and he's personally driven a lot of the changes we're hearing about."

Choosing to nominate for the top job was an easy one for Mr Fels, as he had been on the Grains Council for more than 18 years.

"I've been asked a few times what my agenda is as Grains president, but I haven't really come in with an agenda, I see the role of president as being to represent the council and their agenda," Mr Fels said.

"But in terms of things I'm passionate about, one is grower involvement and engagement and being proactive about policy which affects our industry so we're on the front foot and not constantly defending ourselves."

Mr Fels also wants to work on removing some of the barriers and red tape that growers face.

"Sometimes it stops us from doing our jobs well and not all of it is well founded, so again I think that's about being on the front foot and stating our case," he said.

"I want to make sure we're allowed to farm, we make a lot of food for the world, so it's important we're allowed to do that without our hands tied behind our back."

Mr Young had some words of wisdom for his replacement, but said he was entirely confident there was nothing he could say that Mr Fels didn't already know.

"You're advocating on behalf of growers, so you need to go into every situation to get the best outcome for them, it's about slowly plugging away at things because it can be difficult at times," Mr Young said.

"I'd like to thank the Grains Council in general for supporting me over the years, but most importantly I'd like to thank my executive as they've given me a lot of support and made my job a lot easier.

"I'll still be staying on council and, if needed, helping out and advising, so it'll be a slightly quieter role for me than it was before."

Over the course of his first terms, Mr Fels is planning to focus on the opportunity to communicate better with growers.

"I think one of the reasons growers have been a bit disconnected from advocacy is that the communication needed to come up to date," Mr Fels said.

"People don't come to meetings anymore so I'm keen to use social media and Twitter to communicate what we're doing and have live interactions to increase grower engagement."

The WAFarmers Grains Council is on Twitter and can be followed by searching @WAFarmersGrains.

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