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DFNZ - Dairy Farmers Will Be 'Gutted'

25 March 2000


"I'm incredulous and farmers will be gutted," was the first response from Dairy Farmers of New Zealand National Chairman Charlie Pedersen, on hearing that the Establishment Board was being wound up yesterday.

"We have consulted with our members all over the country during the Merge Co process," said Mr Pedersen.

"Dairy farmers have overwhelmingly bought into the idea of Merge Co uniting and focusing the muscle of the New Zealand dairy industry to leverage our international position. It would have created a global entity that would have brought huge benefits to this nation."

"We have lost the opportunity to form New Zealand's equivalent of a Nokia or a McDonalds. A global entity such as Merge Co would have added huge value to milk products from New Zealand."

"During the 1950's and 1960's, New Zealand lived economically on the "sheep's back". Merge Co created the prospect of enabling New Zealanders to again prosper as we lived on the 'cows' back'. It seems this opportunity for dairy farmers and our city friends has now gone," commented Mr Pedersen.

"Personalities and parochialism have been cited as barriers to achieving an agreement between New Zealand Dairy Group and Kiwi Co-op Dairies," said Mr Pedersen.

"But deeper than that, I believe, some saw the shareholding arrangements for Merge Co as undermining the co-operative principles that are so important to dairy farmers. I believe that this was enough to tip the balance in the end."

"Most farmers will agree that we could all have done more to assist our leaders in the formation of Merge Co. Dairy farmers will not allow this to be the final chapter. Their livelihoods rely on a resolution, and their company directors and the Government need to understand this," concluded Mr Pedersen.

ENDS For further information:
Kevin Petersen 04 473 7269

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