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Response to Fonterra Vote Disappointing

Response to Fonterra Vote Disappointing

29 July 2002 PR100/02

Response to Fonterra Vote Disappointing

The poor response to Fonterra's ballot on constitutional changes highlights a major concern regarding the dairy co-operative's relationship with its shareholders, according to Dairy Farmers of New Zealand Chair Kevin Wooding and Sharemilkers' Section Chairman Jeff Bolstad.

Fewer than 19% of shareholders voted on issues including whether to reduce the number of farmer representatives on its board and to appoint an independent director.

"The appalling low voter turnout shows the honeymoon for Fonterra is well and truly over, said Mr Wooding.

"Fonterra has tended to take its shareholders for granted. Major change is always difficult and coupled with a significant reduction in payout Fonterra will have some work to do to rebuild farmers trust.

Sharemilkers section chair, Jeff Bolstad, expressed relief that Fonterra Shareholders have voted to allow the transfer of shares to sharemilkers. "Although the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act always allowed for this to happen, it is good that it is now established in the constitution".

"This resolution will allow sharemilkers and shareholding farm owners to agree to transfer some of the farms shares into the ownership of the sharemilker for the length of their contract. I am not expecting an enormous rush to take up this opportunity, but it is a significant step in the recognition of the importance sharemilkers play in the New Zealand dairy industry.

"The low voter turnout was extremely disappointing. It is not enough to just have the opportunity, we must also use that opportunity. Otherwise the company will lack credibility," Mr Bolstad concluded.


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