Farmers eye drought relief
Struggling Fonterra farmers seek a similar deal, reports Andrea Fox.
The heat is on Fonterra directors to give its drought-stricken farmers an advance milk payment earlier than scheduled as word spreads that Waikato’s Tatua dairy cooperative is paying an advance of 30c/kg milksolids a month until September.
Tatua is set to pay its farmers $6.70/kg before retentions for the 2012-13 season – $1.40/kg more than Fonterra is forecasting.
Many North Island Fonterra farmers, who have been forced to dry off their herds because they cannot feed them, face the prospect of no income until June.
They had an increase in their advance milk payment to $4.25/kg in January and the next advance is not due from Fonterra until June.
Upset farmers who have heard about Tatua’s advance offer said that unlike their giant cooperative, the much smaller Tatua was behaving like a ‘‘real co-operative’’ and looking after its farmer owners as they struggled through the drought.
Fonterra chairman John Wilson said that criticism was ‘‘highly unfair’’, and directors and management were very concerned
Wilson’ FonftaecrriangchwaiitrmhacnasJhohflnow about the impact of the drought on farmers. The Fonterra board was set to reveal its half-year financial results, he said.
He could not pre-judge what the board would decide but said that as the company got nearer to the end of the 2012-13 season, it might be able to ‘‘fine tune’’ the advance rate to spread it more evenly to help farmer cashflows.
‘‘But we have to stay close to board policy.
‘‘That’s as clear a message as a chairman is able to give.
‘‘We are all critically aware of the challenges our farmers are facing with cashflow.’’
Tatua chairman Steve Allen confirmed the 30c/kg advance each month for the next five months.