AFTER two terms of service, totalling six years, Coorow grower Rod Birch has stepped down as deputy chairman of the GrainGrowers board, while York farmer Rhys Turton has been reappointed to the board for a second term.
Mr Birch had served as a grower director on the board since 2014, taking on the role of deputy chairman not long after and was also the first WA GrainGrowers member in 2004.
He stood down at the organisation's annual general meeting, held virtually on September 16, with Mr Turton and South Australian grower Richard Konzag being elected by members to the two available Western Region director positions.
GrainGrowers chief executive officer David McKeon said Mr Birch was a big picture thinker who was always strategic in his approach to GrainGrowers and had a lot of connections right across the grains industry.
"We're an organisation which represents the interests of Australian grain farmers at a national and international level and Rod has really helped to make the connection from what's happening on the ground in WA through to a strategic national level," Mr McKeon said.
"Rod had a really successful stint as deputy chairman, however busy guys like him always have a lot of irons in the fire and he is currently in the process of expanding his own farm business back home in Coorow.
"He is going to be able to focus his time and effort on his own farming business, but he will definitely still be engaged with GrainGrowers as a prominent member of the organisation."
Mr Turton has served as a grower director for GrainGrowers since 2017 and is also the president of WAFarmers and chairman of the Council of Grain Grower Organisations in Western Australia (COGGO).
He was re-elected to the board by GrainGrowers' members, while Mr Konzag was appointed for his first time.
Mr Turton said he was keen to make sure WA and SA growers had a presence at the table in Sydney.
"One of the big changes with the Western Region election this year is that the board now has representation from WA and South Australia, that's different from the last three years where both Western Region directors came from WA, but to have one from each State is a good balance to have," Mr Turton said.
"One of the compelling reasons I wanted to join GrainGrowers in the first place was to get some unity among all the grains players that existed, mainly because we often hear from overseas customers that they don't know who to turn to in Australia to speak to specifically about grains because there were so many different organisations and it was so fragmented.
"One of the big goals which we achieved in the last three years was the establishment of Grains Australia and I think now the likes of GrainGrowers will help to get that on its feet and then stand back and feed in some policy and ideas when requested from Grains Australia."
Mr McKeon said Mr Turton was a successful farmer in his own right and believes it's important to have geographic diversity among members and directors.
"Rhys has a lot of board director experience for both commercial and industry related roles, plus he has a lot of prior agribusiness experience and he performs the job of president of WAFarmers exceptionally well," Mr McKeon said.
"That helps ensure he is connected to the key issues impacting growers which helps to ensure our board of directors is engaged at that level across the industry."
While Mr Turton was excited to see what the next three years will hold, he also lamented the departure of his friend and colleague in Mr Birch.
"I had a lot to do with Rod, we compared notes regularly, often travelled together and he was a great mentor for me as a younger director," Mr Turton said.
"Rod had a wealth of experience in the grains industry in WA, he's been involved in a number of different organisations at all different levels and he is certainly a significant grain farmer in his own right."
Mr McKeon said during his terms, Mr Birch helped to enhance the footprint of GrainGrowers in WA.
"He's maintained a sharp focus on taking a team Australia approach for our grain industry and has worked to ensure that when operating in a global context, we're taking the opportunity to position our industry the best way we can on the international stage," Mr McKeon said.
"We really thank Rod for the time he's been engaged as deputy chairman of the organisation and we look forward to continuing to keep in touch with him and see how his own farm business goes from strength to strength."