2 Mar 2012

Fonterra move on trading scheme fails to reassure

5:25 am on 2 March 2012

Fonterra says it will support the option of a farmer-trust custodian for the shareholder fund in its trading among farmers proposal.

But a dairy farmer representative says that won't alleviate farmers' concerns about the scheme.

Farmers fear that outside investors' access to the shareholders fund will lead a loss of their control of the co-op.

Fonterra offered three custodian options to safeguard the shares in that fund.

It says farmers have told it they want a farmer-trust custodian, so legal title is owned by a trust and controlled by farmers, and Fonterra says it will support that.

The two other options were a Fonterra-owned custodian or for farmers to retain the legal title to shares in the fund, and enter a contract with the fund.

But a dairy farmer representative, Andrew Hoggard, says the custodian is not the issue for most farmers.

"Talking to people in the finance area, they signal that the custodian, generally, is just an entity that sits there and doesn't really do anything."

He says there are other concerns with the concept, such as the milk price panel and proposed shareholders fund.

More meetings between Fonterra and its suppliers are planned.