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Dairy Farmers Send A Clear Message

16 February 2001

PR 23/2001

Dairy Farmers Send A Clear Message

Dairy farmers support the proposed Global Dairy Company in principle. Support in practice will not be assured until they are satisfied as to the detail of the proposal. That was the clear message from delegates at the annual meeting of Dairy Farmers of New Zealand Council.

DFNZ Chairman, Charlie Pedersen said that council delegates were frustrated at the lack of detail available. Farmers as owners of the industry have the final say in approving the merger but "blind faith is no basis for a commercial decision of this magnitude", said Mr Pedersen. "Farmers need to be comfortable with the detail and that means more information must be made available."

Farmers are also frustrated about the lack of consultation in drawing up the merger proposals. " Ours is a co-operative industry. Its members have a legitimate expectation that meaningful consultation will take place before farmers can be expected to back any proposal put to them", said Mr Pedersen.

The DFNZ Council has decided to put its weight behind the proposed Suppliers' Council. " Our delegates see this Council as vital to the success of the Global Dairy Company" said Mr Pedersen. " It is essential that the Suppliers' Council be robust, capable of rigorous debate and financially independent of the Board. It will be the guardian of the constitution and will also play a key role in scrutinising company performance"

Delegates warmly greeted Minister of Agriculture Hon Jim Sutton when he told them that the Government supported the merger in principle but that it had to be correctly structured. Delegates agreed with the Minister that the industry was far too important for the Government to rubberstamp the current proposal without ensuring that vital public policy objectives are satisfied.

" They welcomed the Minister's assurance that the Government would not legislate in support of the mega-merger until it was satisfied that farmers have all the information they need from the dairy companies." said Mr Pedersen.

"As the Minister has said " Our minds are open but open minds need evidence, not rhetoric, to be persuaded" concluded Mr Pedersen.

ENDS

For further information Charlie Pedersen 025 463 480 Kevin Petersen 04 473-7269


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