Meat reformers score win

TIM CRONSHAW
Last updated 16:05 13/12/2013
Waikaka Valley farmer Donald Morrison is standing for election on the board of the Alliance Group.
DIANE BISHOP/Fairfax NZ
MOTIVATED: Waikaka Valley farmer Donald Morrison has been elected to the board of the Alliance Group.

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Meat industry reformers have scored a pair of wins in elections to the board of a major meat processor.

Former Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) reform group director Don Morrison was elected to the board of the Alliance Group, along with Murray Taggart, while shareholders also voted for Fonterra director John Monaghan to be appointed as an independent director.

Morrison, a farmer from Gore, was among a trio MIE executives who are leaving the reform group to contest director elections at New Zealand's two main meat co-operatives. Taggart, an Oxford farmer, is the board chairman retiring by rotation.

They will take two seats on the Alliance board.

The unsuccessful candidate in the three-way contest was Southdown farmer Jason Miller, who was first elected in 2007.

Shareholders also narrowly passed a resolution to appoint Monaghan, a dairy and beef farmer, as an independent director. The shareholders' vote is non-binding and the decision ultimately rests with the Alliance board, but it signals that farmers want change.

The director's election was held at Alliance's annual meeting in Dannevirke with nearly 49 per cent of shareholders voting.

Taggart said the turnout was up significantly on recent years and reflected the interest in the election.

"It is encouraging to see the turnout which demonstrates that our shareholders are very much interested in who represents them at the board table," he said.

The MIE group had previously urged farmer shareholders to participate in the Alliance and Silver Fern Farms elections to show they wanted a less-fragmented meat industry and closer co-operation between the co-operatives.

Monaghan initially put his name forward to stand as a farmer director, but his small shareholding counted against him and farmer shareholders then put his name forward for the resolution to appoint him as an independent director.

The board is working with independent executive search consultants to identify suitable candidates.

Taggart said that while the board had focussed on finding a candidate with the right skills and expertise, they would take into account the views expressed by farmers voting for the resolution.

"We expect to be in a position to make the appointment early in 2014," he said.

Taggart thanked Miller for his commitment and contribution during his tenure on the board.

The Alliance board has nine directors, six elected by farmer shareholders and three independent directors appointed for their commercial expertise.

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