Fonterra shareholders voted yes to a new capital structure proposal with 85.16% of farmers voting in favour. Fonterra chairman Peter McBride said the vote was a strong mandate for change and called it the most important decision Fonterra farmers have made in almost a decade. McBride said 82.65% of eligible votes were cast, showing that farmers are united in their support the direction of the coop.
Despite the overwhelming majority in favour of a changed capital structure, New Zealand agriculture minister Damien O’Connor is not completely convinced and believes small tweaks to the restructure proposal are still necessary. O’Connor said he will support the legislative change needed for the proposal to go ahead, saying it was important that it is easier for new farmers to get involved and that minority shareholders continues to have a voice in the board room.
Dairy farmer organisations have welcomed the proposal, saying it allows different types of farmers to hold shares in Fonterra and would make it easier for young farmers to join the cooperative. Federated Farmers Southland dairy chairman Bart Luyten said the new structure would give farmers more flexibility.