Election meetings largely ignored by farmers

Fonterra board hopefuls have concluded their whirlwind round of farmer meetings but at least one of them remains unhappy about the process.

Former Hamilton mayor Russ Rimmington is going head to head against five other candidates for three spots on the Fonterra board of directors. Three of the contenders are incumbents Colin Armer, Stuart Nattrass and John Wilson who relinquished their spots by rotation.

Mr Rimmington joined two other fresh candidates, Andrea March and Nicola Shadbolt for a round of 11 shareholder meetings throughout the country last week.

After previously labelling the election process “bizarre,” Mr Rimmington said the process is too tightly controlled and made it extremely difficult for new candidates to make an impression on voters.

However, he said just 500 people turned up in total during the round of meetings, representing less than 5% of eligible farmer voters.

Mr Rimmington said farmers had attended a number of meetings recently, including Fonterra’s capital restructuring roadshow.

“We have all been treated like school children instead of successful farmers with business credentials,” Mr Rimmington said.

Fonterra rules mean director hopefuls are not permitted to campaign or organise their own shareholder meetings.

The only information shareholders received were profiles submitted to the company by each of the candidates and from the 11 meetings if they chose to attend.

Media was excluded from the shareholder meetings, which is usual behaviour for Fonterra elections.

Mr Rimmington said candidates were given four minutes to speak and then a further 15 minutes each with break away groups.

The polls close on Monday, November 16.

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