Premium offer is too late, says farmer

By Rodney Woods

A long-time Fonterra/Bonlac supplier has criticised Fonterra for the timing of its decision to offer an extra 70¢/kg of milk solids to select Stanhope factory suppliers.

Katunga’s Bridget Goulding said with seasonal conditions the way they were and rising water and feed prices, it was impossible for anyone to change their farming operation to benefit from the ‘‘secret deals’’.

‘‘From the very start of the season farmers have had to get rid of cows and use different water and feed options because of the high prices and how the season has been,’’ she said.

‘‘If we were to get that $6.75 at the start of the season, we could have all made changes to meet that (commitment on volume and quality).’’

Mrs Goulding said this was not the first time a deal had been announced involving the Stanhope factory.

‘‘The really interesting thing is the year they finished the plant, the first year of production at the plant, Rene Dedoncker said they would pay 20 cents per litre extra if we filled the plant,’’ she said.

‘‘We did fill it but they didn’t honour that because of technical issues.’’

Responding to an article in the Weekly Times, Fonterra’s Farm Source general manager Matt Watt said the deal was no secret.

‘‘It’s important to note that we have not kept these discussions a secret, and we kept the BSC Board and Forum informed about the decision,’’ Mr Watt said.

‘‘We know that there are higher input costs associated with producing milk to these specifications, and to recognise that, we’re offering farmers that can meet these requirements a premium, similar to the premium we offer for fresh milk and plan to pay for organic and A2 milk.’’