A founding director of the farmer-owned Waterpool Co-operative, Terry Hehir, has stepped down from the board.
Mr Hehir, who was chairman until late last year, is taking a break, and was acknowledged for his service at his last board meeting last week.
However, the Kyabram organic farmer who has been awarded an OAM, is quick to point out he is not retiring.
‘‘I am still aspirational in agriculture,’’ Mr Hehir said with a smile, but he is not giving away his next move.
He played a key role in getting the independent water trading co-operative up and running in 2012, in the wake of the demise of Watermove, which was run by Goulburn-Murray Water.
The co-operative was established four years ago, with the investment of a core group of irrigators and has grown from a handful of members to about 1100.
The business also has captured a significant proportion of the trading market.
It grew out of the desire of irrigators to provide a water trading platform which was transparent and a useful guide for farmers using the water market.
‘‘We took Watermove for granted, then it was gone,’’ Mr Hehir said. ‘‘We needed the transparency.’’
Mr Hehir said he wanted to ‘‘catch his breath’’ and with a few personal developments, including the birth of a grandchild, he decided a break was in order.
He has been on about five boards over the years, been a chairman of Nuffield Australia, part owner of the Dairyking Australia business and was inaugural chairman of Organic Dairy Farmers of Australia.
‘‘For about 35 years I’ve been living on about four to five hours sleep a night,’’ he said.
The Hehirs have a 700-cow organic farm where they grow all their own fodder — including cereal grain, corn and lucerne — managed by their son Brendan, who was recently awarded a Nuffield scholarship.
Mr Hehir is looking forward to getting re-acquainted with the farm as he will have to take over management while his son undertakes the international study over the next few months.
He says he will be relying on their excellent staff.
New Waterpool chairman Peter Fitzgerald acknowledged Mr Hehir’s role in getting the company started and recalled the surprise and disappointment when irrigators heard the predecessor body was closing its doors.
He remembered the first call to Mr Hehir in 2012 when the idea took shape and how they had sought founding partners prepared to contribute $5000 each to establish a co-operative.
‘‘Within a few weeks we had $250000,’’ he said.
Mr Fitzgerald praised Mr Hehir’s ability to achieve consensus around the board table and his attention to the principles under which Waterpool was established.