Global de­mand for dairy grow­ing speed­ily

South Waikato News - - NEWS/OPINION -

TWO days af­ter his re­elec­tion to Fon­terra’s board Sir Henry van der Hey­den was fronting farm­ers at the co­op­er­a­tive’s an­nual meet­ing.

Sir Henry was re-elected with fel­low board mem­bers Mal­colm Bai­ley and Ian Far­relly on Tues­day.

On Thurs­day the Pu­taruru dairy farmer spoke in Haw­era at the co-op­er­a­tive’s an­nual meet­ing.

Sir Henry de­scribed 2010 as an ‘‘im­por­tant year’’ for Fon­terra, pri­mar­ily due to the cap­i­tal struc­ture vote in June.

‘‘The biggest suc­cess was not just the pos­i­tive vote but how many of our farm­ers got in­volved,’’ he said. ‘‘More than seven and a half thou­sand of our farms voted on Trad­ing Among Farm­ers.

‘‘That’s 80 per cent of our milk and the high­est level of par­tic­i­pa­tion since Fon­terra was formed.’’

Sir Henry said work on the cap­i­tal struc­ture changes had con­tin­ued since the vote in June to ‘‘en­sure we have a mar­ket that works from all an­gles’’.

He ex­pects a round of farmer meet­ings to be held in the new year to dis­cuss the work so far.

Sir Henry said he recog­nised many farm­ers were ‘‘still in a very tight fi­nan­cial po­si­tion’’ with high costs and pres­sure from banks.

Newly re-elected Fon­terra chair­man Sir Henry van der Hey­den told the co-op­er­a­tive’s an­nual meet­ing in Haw­era the fu­ture was bright for the dairy in­dus­try.

‘‘As a board our pri­or­ity is al­ways to put as much money in farm­ers hands as pos­si­ble. We recog­nise ev­ery cent of pay­out counts in a farm bud­get.

‘‘Farmer re­turns this year were the sec­ond high­est ever with a to­tal pay­out be­fore re­ten­tions of $6.70 and $6.37 on av­er­age in farm­ers’ hands.’’

Sir Henry said the dairy in­dus­try was con­tin­u­ing to do well as other sec­tors strug­gled.

‘‘There’s a lot of volatil­ity in global mar­kets. But the dairy fun­da­men­tals re­main good on both the sup­ply and de­mand sides.

‘‘Long-term prospects are bright. Dairy con­sump­tion is in­creas­ing faster than global pop­u­la­tion growth.

‘‘And dairy has a lot go­ing for it with the global trends to­wards health­ier, more nu­tri­tious foods.

‘‘But we are go­ing to see much more volatil­ity. New Zealand pro­duc­tion makes up only a tiny frac­tion, about 2 per cent, of the world’s milk so we will al­ways be at the mercy of pow­er­ful forces in world mar­kets,’’ he said.

‘‘The world is chang­ing. Con­sumers have a strong in­ter­est in how their food is pro­duced, and the im­pacts on their en­vi­ron­ment.

‘‘New Zealan­ders are in­ter­ested in how farm­ing im­pacts on their en­vi­ron­ment. And how it con­trib­utes to our econ­omy.

‘‘The chal­lenge, not just for dairy farm­ers but for the coun­try as a whole is to weigh up what’s right and how we strike the right bal­ance for New Zealand.

‘‘I want to see New Zealand in be­hind us. We need the sup­port of New Zealan­ders for dairy­ing to be al­lowed to grow so that we con­tinue to do well. New Zealand needs us for our econ­omy to pros­per,’’ Sir Henry said.

‘‘When I talk with our farm­ers, I feel a sense of unity and spirit which gives me a lot of pride and con­fi­dence about the fu­ture.

‘‘As I stand here to­day, I can’t think of a bet­ter busi­ness to be in and I can’t think of a bet­ter time to be a Fon­terra dairy farmer.’’

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