Call for Federated Farmers President to Step Down
4th July 2019
Chris Leitch, Leader
Social Credit Party leader, Chris Leitch, is calling for Federated Farmers President Katie Milne to step down following her statement that the sale of Westland Milk Products to a Chinese conglomerate was an "absolutely stunning" result for West Coast farmers.
Every farmer in New Zealand should now be very worried about their future prospects given that New Zealand's top farmer representative has stated her position on overseas ownership of the industry.
“I wouldn't be surprised to see her shortly stating that selling Fonterra to the same Chinese company would be “a stunning result” given that it's payout to farmers has not been wonderful, it's shares are the lowest level since listing and it has a debt of over $7 billion dollars.
Suggesting that selling out your long-term ownership of a cooperative like Westland Milk is a “stunning result” shows a level of short-term thinking that is mind-boggling.
Yili have not purchased the company because they like the scenery they can see from its West Coast base.
They've paid an over-the-top price because they are aware that the demand for milk products worldwide is skyrocketing so they're going to make a handsome profit from the deal long term.
Sadly West Coast farmers have thrown away the opportunity for those on-going dividends.
Admittedly many of those farmers had been backed into a corner with high debt and poor company performance, so their decision under those circumstances is understandable.
But one has to ask the question ‘where was the leadership from their industry body and its president’ who is also a director of the company.
Where was the range of options presented to farmers on which to base a longer-term strategic decision.
For instance, where was the request to the government from Federated Farmers or the board of the company to put in place an overdraft facility at the Reserve Bank at a cost of just one percent interest or less to tide Westland and its farmers over the current problems?
And where was the leadership from the government, who seem blissfully happy to see millions of dollars in profit going overseas, adding to the country’s balance of payments problems as Yili extract value out of Westland and the Aussie banks transfer out their profit from West Coast farmers paying down their loans, instead of initiating options that would have seen that money stay in New Zealand.