Fonterra shareholders have delivered a damning assessment of their elected Shareholders Council.
Guy says Fonterra has listened to farmer feedback and made some changes. “I would urge farmers to go out and vote,” he told Dairy News.
Fonterra will hold a special meeting in Palmerston North on Wednesday (October 12) for a fresh vote.
In November last year the co-op did not get the 75% support required and is now keen to gain farmers’ approval of the revised structure for electing directors and vetting board candidates.
Chairman John Wilson is also urging farmers to back changes, intended to maximise the co-op’s production from farmers’ milk and grow their wealth.
“Over the past eight months there has been a lot of good discussion on the unique governance structure of the cooperative. We have considered the different governance and representative roles including the process for electing directors, the size of the board and the defined role of the Shareholders Council. The recommendations being put to the vote reflect those discussions.
“There has been good feedback and acknowledgement that we have listened to our farmer shareholders and have adjusted the proposal where there were concerns, while still retaining the strong points of the original proposal.
“This is a big step to ensuring we have the best people to lead our cooperative into the future. Now it’s up to farmers to have their final say so we can move forward and give our full attention to making the most of improving global markets,” says Wilson.
The main variation to the recommendations put before farmers is a new election process for farmer directors. The earlier recommendation remains that candidates are selected by an independent selection panel, then approved by the nominations committee of the board and by the Shareholders’ Council before they are put forward to shareholders for their vote and support.
In addition there is now a path where candidates can stand outside this process and self-nominate. A first-past-the-post majority voting system will mean all director candidates now need at least 50% farmer support.
The new recommendation addresses choice by including the option for any eligible farmer to be able to stand outside the independent selection panel process and to be considered by farmers.
Wilson says there is strong agreement that it is time to move Fonterra forward and for farmers to vote to improveme the election process.
The proposals put to farmers have the unanimous support of two independent expert panels, the unanimous support of the board and the backing of 33 out of 35 councillors.
Postal balloting closed on October 10 but shareholders can vote in person at the special meeting.