Federated Farmers is welcoming the calibre of appointees to the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund Board, but wonders why there is not more farmer representation.
“Having read the profiles and recognised a few names, you cannot help but be impressed by the calibre of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund board,” says Kevin Robinson, Federated Farmers Dairy vice-chairperson.
“Former PricewaterhouseCoopers chair, John Shewin, is respected and I am sure will make a good chair of the Fund.
“If this is about appointing a high calibre business board, you could say they have nailed it.
“Yet the Fund is meant to be there for Fonterra’s farmer-shareholders as well as Fund investors. With the exception of Jim van der Poel, it is pretty much devoid of people who understand what we shareholders go through to produce the goods that make the coop tick.
“Federated Farmers would have preferred to have seen at least another farmer and not necessarily from the dairy sector. There are highly successful farmers who do straddle the corporate world and the farmgate.
“Having another ‘businessperson-farmer,’ would have reassured shareholders interests are being looked after. I am sure Fund investors would have seen the wisdom of having another board member who knows the business from the farm up.
“Farmers are now looking towards the introduction of Trading Among Farmers with some uncertainty and apprehension over what it may mean for the coop.
“Looking to the Annual General Meeting, I think there is an opportunity to ensure controls around the Fund are put in place. This will go some way towards uniting farmer-shareholders,” Mr Robinson concluded.