Fonterra says a revamped Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) creates “a more level playing field”.
Wilson says Theo Spierings’ base salary was frozen last month at his own request.
He says the $750,000 increase reported last month in its 2014-15 annual accounts was related to performance incentive payment for the previous year, when the payout to farmers was a record $8.40/kgMS.
Wilson, who attended farmer meetings with Spierings last week, says they were “front footing” the issue and explaining to farmers.
Many Fonterra farmers are struggling to make ends meet; low dairy prices have slashed farmgate returns.
Fonterra last week disclosed that Spierings earned between $4.93 million and $4.94 million in the year to July 31, 2015, up from $4.17m to $4.18m in the previous year.
The company does not disclose Spierings’ base salary, but it is understood to be close to $4m.
Wilson says the incentive payment to Spierings was made in October 2014, after the successful 2013-14 season.
“Although it was reported in the last financial year statements, the actual payment was made a year earlier,” he told Rural News.
He says Spierings and the management realise the challenging times faced by farmers.
“Theo came to the board sub-committee and asked that his salary be frozen for this year. It’s very unfortunate that this has been misrepresented in some media.