Farmers vote for TAF

June 25, 2012

Fonterra shareholders have voted in favour of the company’s Trading Among Farmers plan.

The resolution for Trading Among Farmers received a 66.45% vote in support at Fonterra’s Special Meeting today, with two out of every three votes in favour.

Fonterra Chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden said the final vote on the share trading scheme attracted a record voter turnout.

“Our farmers have voted in big numbers, representing 85% of the Co-op’s milksolids. It is great to see so many taking part and having their say.

“Now we can move forward with this important evolution in our capital structure,” he said.

“We’ve spent six years talking about capital structure and it has been a rigorous debate and process. Our farmer shareholders have made a great contribution and the final version of Trading Among Farmers is all the richer because of that input.”

Sir Henry said TAF ensures a stable, permanent capital base for the Co-op and secures its future.

“We broke new ground with the formation of Fonterra and now we have the support from our farmer shareholders to refine that model and to break new ground again.

“As in the past, our farmer shareholders will now get behind the Co-op as we move forward. That’s what we all want, a united Fonterra.

“Over recent months we have used some of the best legal minds and co-operative specialists to stress test the concept and proposed trading system as part of the Due Diligence process. This final vote shows the majority agree that TAF is a fundamental pillar for the Co-op and the Board is absolutely unanimous in the belief that this is a lasting solution.”

Sir Henry said the Board listened to farmer shareholders’ concerns on preserving 100% farmer control and ownership and the integrity of the Farmgate Milk Price.

“We asked our farmers to vote on constitutional changes which would tighten limits on the size of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, which is fundamental to 100% farmer control and ownership, and preserve the integrity of the Farmgate Milk Price. This resolution required a 75% vote and received 72.8% support.”

The Board will take this resolution back to the next annual meeting in November and will seek Shareholders’ Council support for this. In the interim, further planning on Trading Among Farmers will proceed within the parameters outlined in Resolution 2. Sir Henry said the Board believed this was in the best interests of the Co-op.

Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierings said the vote for TAF means Fonterra can be in charge of its own destiny.

“TAF will stop money washing in and out and give the Co-op a stable, permanent capital base to deliver on its Strategy Refresh.

“There is no co-operative anywhere around the world that is the same as Fonterra. TAF is completely unique as is the solution to eliminating redemption risk.

“We will now be able to implement our strategy and remain a relevant player in the global dairy industry. With overall demand for dairy growing, TAF will ensure that we are well placed to grow volumes and protect our position as the world’s leading dairy exporter.”

Sir Henry said the Board is still working towards a November launch for TAF but this will be dependent on market conditions. The pre-conditions in the Constitution still need to be finally satisfied, including the support of the Shareholders’ Council. The Board is confident that the necessary changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act and the waivers are on track for this to happen. The Board will determine an exact launch date closer to the time.

The result of the vote is as follows:

  • Resolution 1: Trading Among Farmers – 66.45%
  • Resolution 2: Constitutional Changes for Trading Among Farmers – 72.8%
  • Resolution 3: M. Beach Proposal – 20.2%
  • Resolution 4: Upson Downs Limited Proposal – 23.26%

The result is in effect a vote of confidence in the board and management who have spent years designing a scheme to ensure supplier control while minimising redemption risk.


Nth Otago farmers win top environment award

June 25, 2012

North Otago farmers Blair and Jane Smith  have won the national title in the 2012 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The Smiths were chosen from nine regional Supreme winners of the 2012 Ballance Farm Environment Awards. They run Newhaven Farms Ltd – a North Otago sheep, beef, forestry and dairy support operation that spans three family owned properties totalling 1528ha.

The Gordon Stephenson Trophy is presented annually at the Sustainability Showcase – an event that salutes people who are farming in a manner that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.

NZFE Trust chairman Jim Cotman said Blair and Jane Smith will be great ambassadors for New Zealand agriculture.

“They are successful business people and strong communicators who will be able to effectively convey their sustainable farming beliefs and actions to a wide audience within New Zealand and beyond.”

Mr Cotman said the Smiths were chosen from an outstanding group of regional winners who had clearly proved “they have what it takes to be profitable and sustainable guardians of our natural resources”.

Guests at the showcase were treated to inspiring visual presentations that highlighted what each of the nine regional winners had achieved down on the farm.

The event celebrates the huge contribution farmers make to the New Zealand economy and highlights the efforts farmers are making to find better ways to manage the complex farming systems they work with.

Mr Cotman says the showcase provides an example of “our unique NZ brand”, reinforcing the importance of producing quality food, “based on good practice ethics and the ongoing stewardship of the land”.

You can read more about the Smiths and their farming operation here.

 


Great Café Challenge

June 25, 2012

One of my indulgences is magazines.

My farmer and I subscribe to several and the Presbyterian in me doesn’t like to throw them out when they’ve been read.

Instead I usually take them to our local hospital where they’re read by many others in waiting rooms.

This must multiply readership by tens, possibly hundreds of people more than subscribers and casual buyers which is one of the motivating factors behind the Great Cafe Challenge.

It was sparked by a tweet from an Australian cafe:

A Twitter conversation ensued between Naked Espresso Bar, Erin, myself and Emma Field (a journalist with The Weekly Times Now) where we despaired at the ever increasing city-country divide despite so many efforts and programs by the farming sector to reconnect people with the source of their food (eg: Farm Day and Art4Agriculture); and we discussed what more can be done to change the situation … Let’s face it, no coffee shop in Australia would be possible without the farmers who grow the food and supply the milk.

Given the love we Australians have for our ‘café culture‘, it would make perfect sense then that cafés could be a place to “spread the ag love” and help bridge the country-city divide in small, manageable bites, just like Naked Espresso Bar are doing. So here it is … The Great Café Challenge:

We challenge every café owner across Australia to carry at least one weekly rural newspaper in their shop.

That’s it. So simple. It won’t cost much; it won’t take much time; but the benefits to rural Australians of having more urban people with a greater understanding of where their food and fibre comes from, of the people and communities who produce it, and the conditions under which they produce it, could be extraordinary!
The Great Cafe Challenge has now spread to New Zealand, prompted by Federated Farmers.

The average urban reader almost certainly won’t be gripped by discussions on kilos of dry matter. but magazines like Country Wide and Young Farmer have lots of stories about interesting people which should appeal to town dwellers  too.

Country Calendar attracts a good number of urban viewers, there’s no reason why they wouldn’t be just as interested in rural stories in print media.

Hat tip: Pasture to Profit


Spain still sunny but clouds gathering

June 25, 2012

Spain has been in the media for all the wrong reasons because of its economic woes.

We read a Time article on Jerez de la Frontera, Spain’s most indebted city, on the plane on the way over.

It spoke of council employees who haven’t been paid for months, high unemployment and the social and economic problems which come with both of those.

But on the surface, Spain looked much as we remembered it from three previous visits.

We lived in Vejer de la Frontera in 2005 and returned for shorter stays in 2007 and 2008.

Vejer is one of Andalusia’s many pueblo blancos – white villages. It’s perched on top of a hill near the Cape of Trafalgar between Cadiz and Tarifa on the Costa de la Luz and has a population of about 13,000 people.

In 2005 it was booming. The EU was pouring money into highway construction and a big irrigation scheme. British people, put off by soaring prices on the Costa del Sol  further east, were making the most of their high pound and Europe’s low interest rates buying and renovating houses.

Now the construction has been finished, the pound has dropped in value, interest rates are higher. There are still tourists on the streets but the boom is over.

Given the dire state of the economy we were expecting obvious signs of problems. At first glance it looked at least as prosperous as we remembered it.

However, the increase in the number of shops, bars and cafes was not a sign of prosperity but of people who had lost jobs trying to run their own businesses.

That extra competition made business tougher but was good for consumers. We thought eating out was cheaper than it had been. That was helped by the difference in the exchange rate. It had cost us about $2.30 to buy a euro seven years ago, now it takes about $1.60; but even euro for euro we thought prices were lower.

The busy season for tourists is a bit later but the town was bustling at the weekend. Our landlady said bookings last year were high but this year Spaniards are taking shorter breaks and competition from the Olympics and European Football championships on top of Europe’s economic woes were resulting in less business this year.

A social security system, family support and a thriving black market are masking the dire situation the country faces but locals told us times are very tough, businesses are struggling and depression and suicide rates are high.

The sun was still shining but there are dark clouds gathering.

 


Brrrrr

June 25, 2012

Sunday: Vejer de la Frontera – 33 degrees.

Monday: Granada – 38 degrees.

Tuesday: Almagro – 28 degrees.

Wednesday: Alcalá de Henares – 30 degrees.

Friday & Saturday: Bangkok – 35 degrees.

Sunday: Auckland – 13 degrees, Christchurch – 9 degrees, home – 6 degrees.

Monday: Brrrrrr.

The trip was prompted by an invitation for my farmer to attend Rabobank’s first Global Masterclass, a gathering of 50 farmers from 16 countries:

Berry Marttin, member of the Executive Board Rabobank and host of the event, invited farmers from developed, emerging and developing countries: “As the world’s leading specialist agribusiness bank we are committed to the development of the agricultural sector and keen to understand the whole supply chain, that starts at the farmers’ gate, from beginning to end. Questions like having to double food production and doing this in a sustainable way are not easy to answer. Bringing together 50 farmers from around the world allows us to really get to grips with this challenge and face it head on.”

We started our journey in England before crossing to Holland for a three-day farm-stay organised by Rabobank for masterclass participants and partners.

While my farmer was at the summit I went back to school in Spain to take some of the rust off my Spanish. He joined me there for the last few days in Spain and we broke the return journey with 36 hours in Bangkok.

A month is about our tolerance for travel and it was good to get home yesterday but it is a wee bit cooler than the temperatures we’ve been enjoying.

Some travellers’ tales and observations will follow in future posts.


June 25 in history

June 25, 2012

524  Battle of Vézeronce, the Franks defeated the Burgundians.

841  Battle of Fontenay.

1530  At the Diet of Augsburg the Augsburg Confession was presented to the Holy Roman Emperor by the Lutheran princes and Electors of Germany.

1678  Elena Cornaro Piscopia was the first woman awarded a doctorate of philosophy.

1741  Maria Theresa of Austria was crowned ruler of Hungary.

1786  Gavriil Pribylov discovered St. George Island of the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea.

1788  Virginia became the 10th state to ratify the United States Constitution.

1876  Battle of the Little Bighorn and the death of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer.

1880 Potatau Te Wherowhero of Waikato, the first Maori king died.

Death of the first Maori King

1900 Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, Viceroy of India, was born (d. 1979).

1903 George Orwell (pen name of Eric Arthur Blair), British writer, was born  (d. 1950).

1903 Anne Revere, American actress, was born  (d. 1990).

1906  Pittsburgh millionaire Harry Thaw shot and killed prominent architect Stanford White.

1913  American Civil War veterans began arriving at the Great Reunion of 1913.

1913  Cyril Fletcher, British comedian, was born  (d. 2005).

1923 Nicholas Mosley, British writer, was born.

1925 June Lockhart, American actress, was born.

1928 Peyo, Belgian illustrator, was born  (d. 1992).

1938  Dr. Douglas Hyde was inaugurated the first President of Ireland.

1939  Clint Warwick, English musician (The Moody Blues), was born (d. 2004).

1944  World War II: The Battle of Tali-Ihantala, the largest battle ever fought in the Nordic Countries, began.

1945 Carly Simon, American singer, was born.

1947  The Diary of Anne Frank was published.

1948  The Berlin airlift began.

1949  Long-Haired Hare, starring Bugs Bunny, was released in theatres.

1950  The Korean War began with the invasion of South Korea by North Korea.

1952  Tim Finn, New Zealand singer/songwriter, was born.

1961 Ricky Gervais, English comedian, actor, writer, was born.

1962 Phill Jupitus, English comedian and broadcaster, was born.

1967  First live global satellite television programme – Our World

1975  Mozambique achieved independence.

1981  Microsoft was restructured to become an incorporated business in its home state of Washington.

1982 Greece abolished the head shaving of recruits in the military.

1991  Croatia and Slovenia declared their independence from Yugoslavia.

1993  Kim Campbell was chosen as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and became the first female Prime Minister of Canada.

1996  The Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia killed 19 U.S. servicemen.

1997  An unmanned Progress spacecraft collidedwith the Russian space station, Mir.

1997   The Soufrière Hills volcano in Montserrat erupted resulting in the deaths of 19 people.

1998  In Clinton v. City of New York, the United States Supreme Court decided that the Line Item Veto Act of 1996 was unconstitutional.

2006 Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier, was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists in a cross-border raid from the Gaza Strip.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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