Dairy politics run in his blood

SUE O'DOWD
Last updated 09:02 30/01/2014
Warea farmer Vaughn Brophy is Taranaki’s newest member of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council. 
SUE O'DOWD/Fairfax NZ
FARMERS' VOICE: Warea farmer Vaughn Brophy is Taranaki’s newest member of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council. 

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Taranaki's newest member of the Fonterra Shareholders' Council is following a family tradition of involvement in dairy industry politics.

Vaughn Brophy was elected to represent farmers in the Coastal Taranaki ward after Nick Barrett, of Omata, retired last year.

His grandfather, the late Patrick Brophy, was chairman of the Cape Egmont co-operative dairy company.

Patrick Brophy resigned as Cape Egmont chairman in 1950. After returning from holiday in Britain and Ireland, he was persuaded to resume the position. Reluctantly, he agreed and died of a heart attack in the factory office in 1952.

In 1974 the company amalgamated with its neighbours at Opunake and Oaonui to form the Egmont Co-operative Dairy Company, which in turn merged with the Inglewood-based Moa-Nui Co-op Dairies in 1989. Three years later, the Moa-Nui company became part of Hawera-based Kiwi Dairies, which formed Fonterra in 2001 with the New Zealand Dairy Board and Waikato's New Zealand Dairy Group.

Vaughn Brophy and wife Sharron milk 160 cows on their 60-hectare farm, which was part of the farm his grandfather owned at Warea. The couple have four children aged between 12 and 16.

One of eight new members of the 35-member council, he will attend his first meeting at the end of next month.

He became a Fonterra networker seven years ago after asking himself how to "make this outfit better for farmers".

He said he was proud of what Fonterra stood for and of being part of a co-operative that returned the best milk price to farmers.

He was concerned the lawsuit French company Danone was bringing against Fonterra after last year's botulism false alarm was hanging over shareholders. "We should tell them to take a flying leap," he said.

Initially, he'll be on the shareholders' council to learn - "to get a grounding on the whole show and see how all the cogs fit together."

He said his role was to represent the farmers of the ward. "If they have a complaint, I'll follow it through and do what I can for them, as well as giving them feedback," he said.

"As farmers, we own the company, and I'll be looking at the bigger picture as much as I can. Fonterra provides a helluva chunk of the income of New Zealand and New Zealand needs it to be successful."

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- Taranaki Daily News

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