| Rural News |
Fonterra’s farmers have voted in favour of introducing Trading Among Farmers, with 66.4 per cent of shareholders voting for the scheme.
More than 10,000 shareholders in the dairy giant participated in today’s vote, a voter turnout of 85 per cent, with some postal votes still to be counted.
Fonterra chairman Sir Henry van der Hayden said the 66.4 per cent vote was enough of a mandate for the co-operative to press forward with the scheme.
“Two against one actually voted [for TAF] here, and that’s a mandate,” Van der Hayden says. “It’s a pretty good result.”
While the vote for TAF set the wheels in motion for a November launch, Fonterra will have to wait until its annual general meeting that month to re-introduce resolution two, calling for a change to the co-op’s constitution.
Only 70.2 per cent of shareholders voted in favour of resolution two, which would have seen the upper limit of shares outside investors could buy into capped at 20 per cent. The current limit is 25 per cent.
But that doesn’t faze Fonterra, who insist it’s business as usual from now on.
“We’ve got a mandate today to implement and execute TAF. What’s in the constitution is subject to those doctrines that still need to be ticked off,” Henry van der Hayden says.
“We’ve got a fund size of 25 per cent and we’ve got dry shares at 25 per cent. The thresholds are wider than what resolution two was covered on today and that’s why we’re saying we’ll stick within the parameters of resolution two but bring the resolution back at the annual meeting.”
While 90 per cent of shareholders voted for the idea of TAF in 2010, Van der Hayden says that the 66.4 per cent result within his guess range.
“Somewhere between 65 and over 70 is what more instinct would take me,” he says.
“I would have liked a couple more, but two against one actually voted here, and that’s a mandate. It’s a pretty good result.”
Green party agricultural spokesperson Steffan Browning says that the vote heralds a “black day” for the dairy giant.
“Allowing non-farmer investment does not fit with the co-operative model; it will put the pressure on to increase the return to investors at the cost of good quality farming. TAF will create a trade-off between having a higher share price and farmers getting a lower price for their milk,” he says.