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Richardson has been active in trying to get the Silver Fern Farms board to reconsider merging with neighbouring Alliance Group instead of accepting a cash injection from China's Shanghai Maling Aquarius. Silver Fern shareholders will decide on the joint venture proposal at a special meeting on October 16.
"With the current controversy being played out in public over the ownership of Silver Fern Farms, I think now is a critical time for farmers who are still actively involved on the land to step up and become involved in securing the future of the co-operative model in the rural sector," Richardson said in a statement.
Farmers had "stood idly by" while a $2 billion business like Silver Fern Farms performed poorly for a number of years, Richardson said.
"Farmers can't afford to stand back while events like this happen," he said.
The North Island's Farmlands merged with its South Island equivalent, CRT, in 2013.