Fonterra has mandate to start TAF - farmers
Manawatu dairy farmers say a two-thirds majority is a big enough mandate to go ahead with Trading Among Farmers.
About 1000 farmer-shareholders of New Zealand's biggest company turned out yesterday to vote on the Fonterra board's proposal to introduce a new capital structure and include share trading among farmers.
The resolution for Trading Among Farmers (TAF) received a 66.45 per cent vote in support at Fonterra's special meetings.
They were held at seven sites, including Palmerston North. Three-quarters of farmers had voted before yesterday's meetings.
The TAF proposal was mooted three years ago and farmers voted in favour of the general concept in 2010.
However, concerns over the plan to offer non-farmers NZX-listed, dividend-carrying units in up to 20 per cent of Fonterra shares sparked fears that farmers would lose control of the world's biggest dairy exporter. Strong opposition from a vocal bloc of farmer shareholders forced the second vote.
Manawatu/Rangitikei Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard said he was hoping for a stronger vote in favour of TAF, but with two-thirds of farmers supporting it, it did give Fonterra's board the mandate it needed.
TAF is to be set up for trading in November.
"It's time to move on. There are so many challenges and this has taken up so many people's time. We have been focused on internal issues, it's time we looked at other things."
Mr Hoggard said it was time to concentrate on issues such as the milk price, and sustainability.
He said he was pleased the final vote on the share-trading scheme attracted a record voter turnout of more than 85 per cent of the co-operative members.
Federated Farmers dairy chairman James Stewart said he would have been thrilled with a 75 per cent majority in favour of TAF, but thought two-thirds was enough and said that was democracy at work.
"Now that the vote is over, this will let the board and management of Fonterra get on with the sharper end of the business."
He said he expected shareholders would now be united and those who had voted against the concept would come on board.
"Whatever way this went, we need to be one co-op and can't be divided over this. Farmers did their talking with the vote. Now we need to get over it and look to the future."
Mr Stewart said a huge amount of money and time had been spent on TAF and he was "rapt with the high participation".
However, farmers did not deliver the 75 per cent vote of support required for another board resolution, which would have seen the constitution changed to put in extra safeguards to protect farmer ownership and control of the co-operative company.
The vote for this resolution was 72.8 per cent.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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