At least 59% of the public surveyed has a favourable opinion of dairying and 90% of media coverage of dairying is positive/neutral.
Michael decided earlier this year to step down from the Fonterra board to try to recover from cancer.
He and I go back many years and I saw him approach the illness as he approached everything in life -- resolute, determined and doing his utmost to continue as normal. His was a brave fight and I am sure that will not surprise those of you who knew him.
Michael was a proud dairy farmer with a passion for our co-op and industry -- a fine example of a leader developed within our ranks.
He brought experience and a huge energy and commitment to our board, and won the respect of his fellow directors and farmers for his willingness to listen and engage.
Michael was a man who knew the importance of detail. He made sure he knew this business extremely well, and understood our strategy and detail in the numbers. He always looked for constructive solutions and thought deeply about our co-op’s governance and his role in the evolution of our business.
His insights, experience, genuine interest and inquisitive mind were invaluable on Fonterra’s milk price panel, the cooperative relations committee and the audit and finance committee.
As recently as last month Michael was working for the betterment of New Zealand farmers in his capacity as chairman of DairyNZ. He also remained an ambassador for Fonterra in Wellington and on the international stage, speaking recently at the United Nations in New York on behalf of the Global Dairy Platform and all farmers.
We have lost a close friend, leader and an advocate of our industry much too soon. Our thoughts and deep gratitude for all that he contributed go to his family.
• John Wilson is chairman of Fonterra.