By: Mike Hosking | Friday, April 27, 2012
This stirring from some of the farmers over the Fonterra trading scheme worries me.
Firstly. they had a vote - that’s democracy. They put the plan up, they voted on it and the vast majority thought it was a good idea. Now in looking to cause upset, to try and engineer another vote two years later by causing trouble to our reputation overseas is welching on the deal. A deal’s a deal.
The scheme by the way is relatively simple. Farmers own Fonterra. The more cows, the more shares. The trading scheme allows you to sell those shares to a fund and at that point anyone can come and buy them, but they don’t get voting rights. The idea is that there are a heap of people who would like a slice of the dairy success but don’t own cows. This scheme is a way of letting you have a piece of the industry.
The other reason all this upset and unrest worries me is that by and large Fonterra do a stand out job for this country. They make a fortune for it. They are an example and a model of how we should be selling ourselves to the world. They’re innovative, they’re expansionary and they produce a product or products the equal, if not the better, of anything else going.
That all takes a lot of work and time and planning and I would have thought the last thing you need when you’ve got so many fingers in so many pies, looking to make the sort of return they do for us, is to have a bunch of shareholders back home stirring the pot and making your life more difficult. If the farmers don’t like the fund, don’t sell your shares. If the investors have no voting rights, what’s to be afraid of?
And then we get back to the original concept that a deal is deal. You voted, you liked it, now get on with it. How on earth can a company plan any sort of future if they are being undermined by a minority of stakeholders?
That’s the other thing to point out. This isn’t the majority of farmers. This isn’t a mass uprising. This, as I understand it, is a small group of the disaffected and in general terms I have to say we spend far too much time these days kowtowing to the minority and the disaffected.
If we stopped or reorganised or in this case had another vote every time someone stood up and said “I object”, we’d still be walking behind donkeys in vege patches dressed in sacks.
Fonterra, dairy wise, is the golden egg. We mess with that at our peril!
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