Dairy

Fonterra want FASL loans repaid as part of class action proceedings

By Rodney Woods

The lawyers behind the class action against Fonterra for its price claw-back in 2016 are still on the lookout for registrations as Fonterra looks to get loans repaid as part of the court's decision.

It comes as Fonterra has issued legal action against the lead plaintiffs, the Iddles family from Strathmerton.

Lawyer David Burstyner said he hoped this case would set a precedent for how processors should treat suppliers.

“The more registrations, the more committed the funder is,” he said.

“That’s important. The other thing of importance is Fonterra's hostile actions.

“Fonterra has sued the Iddles family over their existing FASL and are threatening a number of other farmers.

“They want to get their FASL money before we deal with the big picture.

“We are saying we want it all done at once.

“The truth is, if Fonterra is confident it should have no problem with it being done at once.”

In response, a Fonterra spokesperson said its attempt to get the Iddles family to repay its loan was in fact part of the class action.

“As part of our usual business process, we extend various loans to farmer suppliers who request them, generally to support farmers with their seasonal cash flow requirements,” the spokesperson said.

“These loans are repayable via deductions from milk payments.

“Where a farmer leaves or breaches their supply agreement, the loan must still be repaid, just like any loan.

“While we are not at liberty to discuss the finance arrangements of individual suppliers, we started debt recovery action against a particular farmer, as they refused to repay a loan they received from us.

“This has now developed into the class action proceedings.”

Mr Burstyner said the class action intended to win back money lost at the time as well as financial impacts since.

“One of the things that stuck in mind was, I was talking to a dairy farmer who said they have to pay 100 per cent to their suppliers what they committed, but Fonterra didn't do that.”

To register, and for more information, visit: https://www.adleyburstyner.com.au/farmers-farm-gate-milk-price-action