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Industry Survey Provides Focus For The Future

17 December 2004

Industry Survey Provides Focus For The Future

Results from a nationwide dairy industry survey have painted a broad picture of the views of Fonterra Co-operative Group dairy farmers and their plans for the future.

The survey, jointly commissioned by the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council and Dairy InSight, was carried out by independent research company Colmar Brunton during October this year.

The Shareholders’ Council’s aim in commissioning the survey was to collect factual, objective and current data on the views, concerns and future plans of Fonterra farmers.

The data will be used by the Council to help drive quality decision-making and steer the co-operative’s future development. The Shareholders’ Council will be working with the Fonterra Board and management as well as the wider dairy industry to determine how the information can be used to best benefit farmers and the industry as a whole.

More than 14,500 Fonterra shareholders, sharemilkers and contract milkers were asked for their views about the co-operative, the New Zealand dairy industry and their expectations for the future.

A total of 5,004 Fonterra farmers completed the survey, representing a 34.4% response rate.

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman John Monaghan said: “The Shareholders’ Council’s job is to represent Fonterra farmers as owners of the business. The scale of the survey response provides us with in-depth information on farmers’ views and will allow Council and Fonterra to focus on the things our farmers tell us matter the most.” “It is heartening to see that Fonterra farmers are in general feeling positive about the dairy industry and the co-operative.

“The survey results have confirmed some widespread beliefs about farming and the dairy industry. Issues have also been raised and that is to be expected. What is important is our response to these issues, not just the Shareholders’ Council but also the Fonterra Board and management and the wider industry.

“Of particular concern to the Council are the challenges our sharemilkers say they are facing in moving up the traditional path to farm ownership. However there is a real spirit among the dairying community and many sharemilkers are looking at other ways of growing their dairy interests.

“We can expect to see more equity partnerships in the future along with the development of improved farming practices and new technology.”

The results reveal that the large majority of Fonterra farmers want to be part of a co-operative that is New Zealand owned. Farmers also feel that the industry is having a more positive impact on the national economy and the environment than five years ago.

There is strong support for the co-operative’s continued involvement in value-add operations.

A number of common concerns were highlighted in the survey. The cost of land features as a primary concern among many respondents, particularly sharemilkers.

Farmers also cited the costs of increasing milk production and the lack of skilled and competent labour as issues impacting on their business.

Fonterra is currently reviewing its capital structure and the survey questioned farmers on their attitudes towards key aspects of this.

The diverse views of Fonterra farmers will be represented to the Fonterra Board of Directors for their consideration in policy development.

ENDS

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