York farmer wins GrainGrowers poll

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York farmer Rhys Turton.
Camera IconYork farmer Rhys Turton. Credit: Simon Santi

York farmer Rhys Turton has beaten former CBH chair Wally Newman and Grains Research Development Corporation contractor Julianne Hill for a seat on the GrainGrowers board, continuing his three-year streak.

Mr Turton, pictured, secured one of two seats up for grabs on the eight-person board at GrainGrowers’ 62nd annual meeting, which was held virtually on September 16.

The York farmer and incumbent, right, faced stiff competition from the two WA candidates and one South Australian candidate to hold on to the seat he has held since late 2017.

At the close of the polls, it was Mr Turton and newcomer South Australian farmer Richard Konzag — both endorsed by the board — who secured the seats until 2023.

The pair will represent GrainGrowers’ western region, which includes WA and SA.

Mr Turton is also the WAFarmers president and the chairman at the Council of Grain Grower Organisations in WA.

Mr Konzag replaced WA grain farmer and GrainGrowers deputy Rod Birch, of Coorow, after he stepped down from the board at the annual meeting to focus solely on farming.

The organisation plans to appoint a deputy chair in November.

GrainGrowers declined to release the poll results, but both Mr Turton and Mr Konzag were endorsed by the organisation’s board nomination committee ahead of the election.

Mr Turton was celebrating both his re-appointment to the board and 13mm of rainfall this week, at his York property where he crops 1500ha and runs 2000 sheep.

Mr Turton said he joined the board in 2017 because he was driven to unite Australia’s grains industry and help drive a project to create a new body called Grains Australia.

The new organisation is hoped to consolidate “fragmented” sections of Australia’s grains industry functions by amalgamating smaller groups responsible for trade reform, market access negotiations, receival standards, variety classification, biosecurity, and policy, among other issues.

“Interestingly enough part of the attraction was around the development of Grains Australia, to provide unity,” Mr Turton said.

“So often you hear customers saying, ‘Who do I turn to for information?’

“My initial passion was about bringing some degree of unity to the bodies within Australia and assisting the grains industry.”

Mr Turton said he was elated to be endorsed by the board after a “rigorous” director selection project which included being interviewed by an independent recruiting agent and the board nomination committee — with a focus on a “national perspective”.

Mr Turton said he believed it was important to have WA directors on the national body’s board.

“GrainGrowers has a long history with the east coast, and it is important to promote and develop policies suitable for the western region,” he said.

“It is important to have that WA representation on the board given we are the biggest export State.

“Some of our issues are different to the requirements on the east that are of a domestic focus.”

GrainGrowers chairman Brett Hosking congratulated the pair on their appointment and said Mr Turton had been a “fantastic” director.

The GrainGrowers board has six grower directors, with two from each of the northern, southern, and western regions and two independents.

The western region area includes WA and South Australia, the northern region includes northern NSW, Queensland and the NT, and the southern region includes southern NSW and Victoria.

The organisation was founded in 1956 as Premium Wheatgrowers Association, with an office in Narrabri, NSW, with a focus on policy and creating value for industry.

Mr Konzag farms at Mallala in South Australia, cropping with his son and nephew, and has held positions on the Grains Research and Development Corporation Southern panel and the Australian Grain Growers Co-Op Board.

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