Fonterra won't be able to introduce share trading among farmers scheme this year and is now looking at starting it next year.
The proposal would allow farmers supplying milk to trade the shares they hold in the co-operative with each other, instead of having to buy or redeem them through the company.
Fonterra was looking at October - December this year as one of three possible time frames for introducing tradeable shares.
But Agriculture Minister David Carter has told the co-operative it's now highly unlikely that the necessary changes can be made to dairy industry legislation before this year's general election.
Fonterra needs to have the legislation in place before it can start promoting a shareholders fund that will be linked to the share trading scheme.
It says it needs several months to market the fund, that will allow for indirect outside investment in the co-operative.
It is now looking at April to May or October to December next year as start-up times.
The Fonterra Shareholders Council, says farmers accept the reasons for the delay.