Fonterra is trying its hand on growing hemp and results are encouraging.
Farm Source Stores director Jason Minkhorst says farmers have already earned $5.7 million in Reward Dollars through Fonterra Farm Source.
They are on track to deliver $14 million in discounts on key products by the end of this year, he says.
"Fonterra Farm Source was created to make the most of the unity and strength of our cooperative and provide a whole new level of support for our farmers. We've combined services, expertise, rewards, digital technology and financial options together with local Farm Source hubs to support the major dairying regions throughout the country," says Minkhorst.
Since its launch, Fonterra Farm Source has introduced:
· Seven new heads of cooperative affairs leading regional teams, providing better on-the-ground support to farmers
· Farm Source Stores, or Hubs, within the regions with a new level of services, deals and facilities
· A rewards programme that offers exclusive deals for Fonterra farmers
· Discounts creating significant savings for farmers on fuel, phone, power, telecoms and more
· Tools and services to help farmers manage the financial side of their businesses
· A digital platform providing access to key farming information, advice, support, products, deals and rewards online, on mobile, on demand.
Minkhorst says the numbers show Fonterra Farm Source is well placed to support farmers through unprecedented market volatility.
"Our stores have maintained very good performance in a tough environment, increasing our market share significantly.
"While global volatility has affected both our milk price and earnings, we have been able to introduce initiatives to support the co-op's farmers through this period."
Minkhorst says, in addition to the value delivered through discounts and rewards, more than 6000 farmers have benefited from Farm Source Store interest-free deferred terms, and 75% of shareholders applied for the 50 cent Cooperative Support loan.
"These initiatives give us a real point of difference and show the strength of being part of the co-operative."