Dairy Bill Can’t Be Supported In Current Form
29 March 2012
Dairy Industry Restructuring Bill Can’t Be Supported In Current Form
The Fonterra Shareholders’ Council, which speaks for Fonterra’s 10,500 farmer-shareholders, has announced it cannot support the Government’s Dairy Industry Restructuring Bill as it is currently written.
The Chairman of the Council, Simon Couper, said this was consistent with the Council’s submissions to MAF and the Government over the last year.
“Hidden in this Bill are provisions that over time are likely to disintegrate New Zealand’s biggest, most successful and most important export industry,” Mr Couper said.
“The Bill has nothing to do with the retail price of milk – prices that many farmers agree are too high, with many retailers charging four times what farmers are paid.
“Instead, the Bill is about government-regulated committees determining how much farmers will earn from Fonterra’s overall business, 95% of which is exported and which is universally agreed to be the most efficient dairy industry in the world.
“We haven’t seen that sort of thing in New Zealand since the 1970s and no one will increase their investment in an industry at risk of such draconian government intervention.
“All New Zealanders would be rightly outraged if the Government set up committees to determine their incomes, especially if that would do nothing to reduce prices in New Zealand supermarkets, and that is what dairy farmers feel is happening to us.
“As Federated Farmers said quite rightly on Tuesday, this Bill risks shooting Fonterra in the foot and we cannot support it as written.
“In the past, dairy farmers, including even a current National MP, have driven tractors up the steps of Parliament on important policy issues.
“While we don’t condone tactics like that, National MPs and Act Leader John Banks need to know that this is a much bigger issue and a much bigger threat to the dairy industry than the one that led to that protest.
“While some parts of this Bill have been welcomed, the provisions on how farmers’ incomes are to be regulated risk doing irreparable harm to New Zealand’s export effort and need to be axed.”
ABOUT THE FONTERRA SHAREHOLDERS’ COUNCIL
The Fonterra Shareholders’ Council represents the interests of Fonterra farmers to the Board of the co-operative and plays an active role in monitoring and assessing the governance and performance of Fonterra. There are 35 Councillors who are all shareholders elected by their fellow farmers in wards across New Zealand.