Clinton farmer David Shaw has been ousted from the board
of Silver Fern Farms as former Meat Industry Excellence
executive members Richard Young and Dan Jex-Blake have been
A desire for change in the meat industry has been evident in
both major co-operative elections, with another former MIE
executive member, Don Morrison, elected to Alliance Group's
board last week.
The trio all stood down from the executive of the group,
formed earlier this year to push for reform in the industry,
to seek election to the respective boards.
Mr Young, who runs a 300ha intensive sheep and cropping
property at Tapanui, comfortably topped the Silver Fern Farms
election with 36,155,094 votes, followed by Mr Jex-Blake
(25,511,166) and Mr Shaw (19,435,482).
The results were released ahead of the company's annual
meeting in Dunedin tomorrow.
Mr Jex-Blake is managing director of a 24,000 stock unit
pastoral farming company operating off 2260ha near Gisborne.
When contacted yesterday, Mr Young said both boards were now
''certainly aware'' that farmers wanted change.
It was ''hugely gratifying'' to know there was such a level
of support and it was a huge mandate from farmers to push for
''We're the guys now in the box seat to drive it,'' he said.
While it was a big responsibility, Mr Young said he was
up for the challenge and looking forward to it. Mr Jex-Blake
said there were big challenges ahead and he was conscious of
the ''significant mantle of responsibility'' that had been
given to the new directors.
''That's totally fair enough. We've stood on a platform to
drive change,'' he said.
They had ''tapped a vein of discontent'', with the status quo
not being acceptable.
When contacted, Mr Shaw, who was a director between 2006 and
2009 then elected again in 2011, said he was very
disappointed. It was very hard to be heard ''amongst the
machine that's the MIE group''.
''As an incumbent director, you kind of become anonymous as a
board member, given your private views aren't really
articulated to shareholders,'' he said.
Farmers had been grumpy with the returns they were getting.
''I guess I was in the vice and got caught in it.''
Mr Shaw said he had always been an advocate for farmer
ownership and a consolidated industry.
It took willing parties and it was a disappointment that
Silver Fern Farms was ''painted'' as not necessarily being a
willing party in that.
The company had consistently held out its hand to others in
the industry to look at opportunities, he said.
Mr Shaw, also vice-chairman of Co-operative Business New
Zealand, said farmers needed to support organisations that
were there to give them benefits.
The voter turnout was 26.76% of eligible voters, up from
16.7% in the previous election in 2010.
Chairman-elect Rob Hewett said the increase reflected the
understanding of a need for ''real reform'' across the
''We are acutely aware of the need to keep up momentum for
reform and we saw the increased farmer turnout at this
election as a key indicator of farmers' desire to support the
Mr Young and Mr Jex-Blake's election platform was well
aligned to the board's own vision, in particular their call
for farmers to support co-operatives and farmer ownership.
Their support base would be invaluable as the board continued
to look at ways to improve farmer control of the sector.
''Farmers now need to step up and jointly drive that momentum
The next step for farmers is to see increased numbers of
farmers exclusively supplying their co-operatives.''
• Silver Fern Farms holds its annual meeting at the Otago
Golf Club in Dunedin tomorrow at 11am.
The meeting is open only to shareholders, not the media.