17 Feb 2012

Concerns over share fund plan remain

6:29 am on 17 February 2012

Dairy farmers continue to have serious misgivings about the main sticking point in Fonterra's Trading Among Farmers proposal, the Shareholders Fund.

After initially voting in favour of TAF in June 2010, some farmers have raised concerns about the possible loss of control to outside investors, who will be able to buy into a shareholders' fund to be established as part of the scheme.

Fonterra has assured farmers they would still own the shares they deposit in that fund, and hold the voting rights.

But some farmers are concerned their control of the co-op would be undermined if they lost title to those shares.

The extent of that concern was heard at the federation's dairy council in Palmerston North on Thursday, when chairman Willy Leferink asked if any of the 60 farmers present wanted to speak in favour of TAF and no one lifted their hand.

He says farmers want to keep the ownership of Fonterra guaranteed.

Fonterra proposes to introduce TAF next year, once dairy industry legislation is amended to allow it.