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Farmlands and Silver Fern Farms praised

Press Release – Farmlands

Farmlands and Silver Fern Farms praised for grassroots governance programme Two of New Zealands largest rural co-operatives have teamed up to develop leaders for the countrys primary industriesFarmlands and Silver Fern Farms praised for grassroots governance programme

Two of New Zealand’s largest rural co-operatives have teamed up to develop leaders for the country’s primary industries
A joint initiative between Farmlands Co-operative and Silver Fern Farms Co-operative has seen the two organisations named the winners of the Co-operation Amongst Co-operatives award.

The sector’s representative body, Cooperative Business New Zealand, announced the accolade at a function in Christchurch earlier this week.

The prestigious award recognised how the country’s leading agricultural supplies co-operative and largest red meat co-operative have teamed up to develop leaders to guide the country’s primary industries in the future.

To the Core is a three-day governance development programme co-designed by the co-operatives for shareholders wishing to build their knowledge of how their co-operatives operate, and to feed their appetite to develop rural leadership skills.

Farmlands chairman Lachie Johnstone said farmers should take real pride in this special recognition of their co-operative.

“Our farmer shareholders set themselves high standards, and it’s their daily hard work and commitment that drives the success of our co-op.

“I also want to recognise the energy and contribution of our staff in helping build a co-op that returns such value to shareholders, local communities and the New Zealand economy.”

Ensuring shareholders are engaged in the future governance of the companies that they own is a challenge New Zealand co-operatives face, said Johnstone.

To this end, the need for a strong pool of potential directors is critical to the longevity of both co-operatives, with more than 68,000 Farmlands shareholders and a further 21,000 at Silver Fern Farms Co-operative.

Rob Hewett chairman of Silver Fern Farms Co-operative was pleased the organisation was recognised for its collective approach with Farmlands.

“Silver Fern Farms Co-operative ran the first To the Core programme in 2016 with the Burnside Hart Co-operative Education Trust.

“We saw the potential to grow the programme alongside another like-minded co-operative, and Farmlands have been an ideal partner to build on these foundations. Many of our shareholders are also Farmlands Co-operative shareholders,” he said.

“The programme touches on the important parts of being a director, such as finance and health and safety, strategy and gets our eyes up past the horizon to make sure we are focused on what matters for the future.

“We want to ensure we’re building a pipeline of leadership. If people want to put themselves up to be on a Co-operative Board, To the Core will help them be director-ready,” said Hewett.

The programme was run at Farmlands’ Christchurch support office, with 23 Farmlands and Silver Fern Farms shareholders from around the country in attendance.

It featured high-quality speakers from both co-operatives and the primary sector addressing all areas of governance, including financials, risk management, market disruption, strategy, sustainability and more.

Lachie Johnstone and Rob Hewett agreed that each of their Board of Directors has a responsibility to ensure their co-operatives are well-governed in the future.

“We have had a great response to the programme and we are going to jointly-run a second course next year,” said Johnstone. “This is a clear signal that our shareholders want to be involved in co-operative governance in the future.”

Cooperative Business New Zealand represents the growing business sector of co-operatives which employ more than 48,000 Kiwis – but make up almost 20 per cent of our country’s GDP – and generate revenues in excess of NZ$43 billion a year for the New Zealand economy.

For the full list of Cooperative Business New Zealand awards, please see here.

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