16 Dec 2013

Reform campaigner wins Alliance board seat

6:38 am on 16 December 2013

Farmers campaigning for meat industry reform will have at least one advocate on the board of each of the two big meat co-operatives.

Candidates endorsed by the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group have been contesting director elections for both the Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farms.

In the first of those election results, Southland farmer Don Morrison defeated sitting Alliance director Jason Miller for one of the two vacancies.

The Alliance chairman, Canterbury farmer Murray Taggart, also won his seat back.

Mr Morrison is one of the farmers calling for meat industry restructuring, starting with the co-operatives.

Two other reform advocates, Richard Young and Dan Jex-Blake, are among the three candidates competing for two positions on the Silver Fern Farms board, so at least one of them will win a seat. The result will be known on Wednesday.

MIE chairman John McCarthy says the Alliance result is a great first step and it's about giving farmers a choice.

He says he believes it's necessary to make reforms and to again incentivise profit in the industry.

Mr McCarthy says it's an encouragement to the board to open its books to the shareholders to quantify the risks and rewards of some sort of merged or consolidated approach.

He says the scale of the current model is good but the fragmented model is not serving the farmers or the processors well.

Mr McCarthy says the Meat Industry Excellence group can also take some credit for the higher than usual voting response of 49% for the alliance board elections.

A resolution to appoint dairy farmer and Fonterra director John Monaghan as an Alliance independent board member was also supported by a small margin, although it is not binding, and the meat company's board will decide what it's going to do about it.