SFF chooses chairman for transition

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative’s new chairman, Rob Hewett, pictured during its annual meeting in...
Silver Fern Farms Co-operative’s new chairman, Rob Hewett, pictured during its annual meeting in Dunedin last week. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Rob Hewett is back as chairman of Silver Fern Farms Co-operative.

At its annual meeting in Dunedin last week, West Otago farmer Richard Young announced he was standing down as chairman, although he would see out his remaining two-year period as a director.

He was elected chairman of Silver Fern Farms Co-operative — which jointly owns Silver Fern Farms Ltd with Shanghai Maling Aquarius — in 2019, taking over from Mr Hewett.

He cited his decision as timely, to enable transition to the next generation of co-operative leaders.

In a statement yesterday, the co-operative’s board said it had requested Mr Hewett step back into the co-op chairman’s role to bridge that transition period.

He would continue as co-chairman of Silver Fern Farms Ltd.

Mr Hewett thanked Mr Young for his "significant contribution" over the past two years.

"Over that time, he has led the development and establishment of a clear vision and purpose for the co-operative, which ensures we continually work cohesively with our investment in Silver Fern Farms Ltd, but also ensuring the voice of our farmer shareholders is heard," he said.

Over the next three years, there would be "significant managed transformation" in the board composition as several farmer-elected directors, including Mr Hewett, came to the end of their maximum terms as allowed in the constitution.

"While the constitution does allow for term extensions on a case-by-case basis for directors who have reached their maximum term, it is the clear intention of the co-operative board to manage succession proactively," Mr Hewett said.

The board was very focused on the importance of developing the next generation of governors.

That had led to the establishment of the To the Core governance programme, along with scholarships to support shareholders to develop their personal governance development plans.

Mr Hewett said he was particularly pleased with the high calibre and good number of candidates who put themselves forward for a place in the recent farmer director election.

"I have real confidence that our governance future is strong when we see committed people like this put themselves through the election process for the opportunity to serve their fellow shareholders," he said.

Gabrielle Thompson, a board-appointed farmer director on the co-operative, was elected to the board last week as a farmer director.

The appointment of Ms Thompson freed up a board-appointed director role which the co-operative board would seek to fill later this year, Mr Hewett said.



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