Farmers urged to vote

Sheep and beef farmers are being encouraged to vote in meat company director elections. Photo by Beef and Lamb New Zealand.
Sheep and beef farmers are being encouraged to vote in meat company director elections. Photo by Beef and Lamb New Zealand.
Meat Industry Excellence is urging farmers to vote in Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farms' director elections, saying it is vital their voices are heard.

Voting papers have now been sent to shareholders of both co-operatives, whose annual meetings are being held later this month.

Sheep and beef farmers should be as active about their ownership of their co-operatives as they were about their own farms, MIE chairman John McCarthy said.

''It is essential if we are to send a strong message around a new direction that we, as farmers, get out and vote.

''Not to participate means quite simply that we get the future we deserve,'' he said.

The elections might prove to be a ''watershed'' and he also urged farmers to make time to attend the annual meetings.

''A strong presence, although it will be at personal cost, especially for those in the South travelling to the Alliance one in Dannevirke, will send a definitive message to that board.

''A strong integrated co-operative model would be capable of winning back supply to 60% and then taking industry consolidation further,'' he said.

West Otago farmer Richard Young and Gisborne farmer Dan Jex-Blake are both standing for the board of Silver Fern Farms, along with incumbent director David Shaw, from Clinton, for two positions.

Voting closes on December 13 and the company's annual meeting is being held in Dunedin on December 18.

Alliance Group's chairman Murray Taggart, from Oxford, and fellow incumbent director Jason Miller (Southdown) are both seeking re-election, while Waikaka Valley farmer Don Morrison is also seeking a place on the board.

Voting closes on December 11 and the results will be announced at the company's annual meeting in Dannevirke on December 13.

In Silver Fern Farms' annual report, released this week, chairman Eoin Garden and chief executive Keith Cooper said this year's loss had not diminished the company's resolve to advance options for industry reform, nor had it limited its ability to invest in its long-term strategy to achieve greater sustainability for the company.

The company has engaged consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to undertake a strategic review of its business, focusing on future options.

In Alliance Group's annual report, chairman Murray Taggart and chief executive Grant Cuff said the company had been involved with other major industry participants trying to derive a constructive model for the future of the industry.

A tentative proposal for reform was reached which was assessed to promote capacity rationalisation among processing companies and lead to improved efficiency in the procurement and processing of livestock. In-market benefits were logically expected to ensue.

Implementation of the model would require widespread agreement with other industry participants, producers and legislative change and, to date, the necessary agreement of other participating companies was not apparent.

Alliance Group remained involved in the process and was receptive to addressing any proposal which realistically had the potential of meeting the long-term industry objective, they said.

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