Farm­ers eye drought re­lief

Strug­gling Fon­terra farm­ers seek a sim­i­lar deal, re­ports An­drea Fox.

South Waikato News - - RURAL DELIVERY -

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.

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