29 Jun 2012

Restore unity , cooperative told

5:32 am on 29 June 2012

An international expert on co-operatives believes unity needs to be restored to Fonterra following the co-op's Trading Among Farmers vote earlier this week.

Fonterra's farmer suppliers have voted with a two thirds majority to accept TAF, which will allow farmers to trade shares amongst themselves and set up a shareholders fund so outside investors can buy the dividend rights to farmer shares.

Dr Onno van Bekkum told Federated Farmers' national conference in Auckland that TAF has divided the co-op.

Alongside the vote for TAF, a second vote which would have restricted the size of the shareholders fund fell short of the required threshold.

Because it was so close farmers will get another chance to vote on that at the AGM in November.

Dr van Bekkum believes the second resolution wasn't passed because some farmers were sending a clear message that they were unhappy with all parts of TAF.

But he says it's important farmers now lobby the Fonterra board and Shareholders Council, to get as many safeguards in place as possible.