Farmers say no to increasing B+LNZ director fees

A bid by Beef + Lamb New Zealand to increase its directors fees has been rejected by farmers....
A bid by Beef + Lamb New Zealand to increase its directors fees has been rejected by farmers. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Cash-strapped farmers have rejected a move by Beef + Lamb New Zealand to increase its directors fees by a total of $73,500.

About 120 people attended the organisation’s annual meeting in Nelson this week and about 12% of farmers voted on the remits and resolutions put forward.

It was proposed the director fees pool for farmer directors, industry directors and the independent director be increased to $475,000 a year from $401,500.

That represented a fee increase for the chairperson from $76,220 to $90,000 and, for each director, from $38,110 to $45,000. The pool available for additional director duties would have increased from $20,000.

In October last year, the B+LNZ board announced it was re-establishing a director independent remuneration committee to provide independent consideration of market conditions and benchmarking.

In a report before the meeting, committee chairman Murray Donald said it considered it was necessary to ensure director fees remained competitive with other similar entities to attract and retain suitably skilled levy payers to governance roles. It considered the objective was to move fees up to the lower end of the upper quartile of generally accepted benchmarks.

After the annual meeting, B+LNZ chairwoman Kate Acland said the resolution on director fees was not supported. Farmer support was required for the proposal to proceed so the fees would not be increased this year.

"We respect this result. We recognise it’s extremely tough on the farm at the moment and believe this has been reflected in the voting outcome. However, the fact remains that B+LNZ’s director fees are well below industry benchmarks.

"While the result shows there are some farmers who would be comfortable with this being addressed now, that’s not the case for the majority so we’ll pick this up again when the time is right," Mrs Acland said.

She was "hugely disappointed" with the low voter turnout, saying while it was an incredibly busy time on farm and farmers were facing significant challenges, it was important they had their say on the running of their levy-funded organisation.

Two farmer proposals were supported and passed, one was narrowly supported and the other two farmer proposals were not supported.

Resolutions supported included one from Neil Henderson, stating that B+LNZ acknowledged New Zealand ruminants were not causing significant global warming and that it worked very actively and widely "to dispel the myth" that livestock were causing significant global warming requiring the need for emissions reductions.

Mrs Acland said the board would discuss the results and the feedback received at the annual meeting at its next board meeting early next month.

The board’s current positions "largely align" with the remits that were supported but it would consider whether further action was required.