With two days until nominations close for Fonterra director elections, only two farmers - both unsuccessful candidates last year - have confirmed they will be trying for a seat.
Waikato's Michael Spaans and Donna Smit of Whakatane are in the running for two of the three vacancies on the board of New Zealand's biggest company.
Two of the vacancies are created by the rotational elections of incumbents Malcolm Bailey and Ian Farrelly. There is also a vacancy caused by the exit of former board chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden.
Another likely challenger, according to industry speculation, is Waikato businessman, director and farmer Gray Baldwin, who stood unsuccessfully for the board in 2011.
Grant Rowan of Manawatu, a contender in last year's election, said he was still considering his position. He has farms in Southland.
High-profile agribusiness commentator Jacqueline Rowarth, a Waikato University professor who stood for election last year, has ruled herself out of the running, as has Otago currency trader and agribusinessman Grant Cochrane.
Smit, a chartered accountant from Whakatane, owns five farms with husband Corrie at Whakatane and Oamaru. She is company administrator for big kiwifruit co-operative Eastpack, a role she is easing out of after 23 years with the company to concentrate on a governance career.
She is a member of the Institute of Directors and a trustee of the Eastern Bay Energy Trust.
Spaans farms at Te Aroha and has a farming interest in Chile. He is a director of industry organisation DairyNZ, chairman of the Waikato Innovation Park, chairman of Animal Breeding Services, an independent director of the Shoof company and a director of Ospri, formed from the merger of the Animal Health Board and Nait.
Last year a whopping 11 farmer-director hopefuls contested three vacancies on the board of New Zealand's biggest company.
However, most didn't reveal themselves until late October, after completing Fonterra's voluntary CAP (candidate assessment panel) process.
The panel was set up to independently assess the capabilities, experience and qualifications of candidates to assist Fonterra's 10,500 farmer-shareholders to make an informed vote.
This year's CAP panel is chairman Bill Falconer, a veteran businessman and director, KiwiRail chairman John Spencer, a former chief executive of NZ Dairy Group, Fonterra chairman John Wilson, Fonterra Shareholders Council chairman Ian Brown, and Cathy Quinn, another council appointment.
Fonterra, a farmer-owned co-operative, has nine farmer-elected directors and four independent, appointed non-farmer directors.
The number and makeup of director representation has been under review for two years, with options on the table including reducing the number of farmer directors and increasing independent director numbers.
The board and council was due to report back to farmers on the outcome of the review this year, but Fonterra chairman Wilson recently told farmers the priority right now was to ensure the company recovers from the botulism contamination scare.
The crisis last month turned out to be a false alarm but has put Fonterra's processes and product testing under intensive external scrutiny with three formal inquiries under way.
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