Fonterra is signalling a full-year loss of up to $675 million for 2018-19.
“There has been a bit of discussion certainly since Keith Cooper’s resignation from our board around election time – about the value of industry organisations,” Petersen said at the Federated Farmers conference in Auckland.
“Our view is we are a farmers’ organisation.... It should be up to the farmers to decide whether they want to invest in research programmes, extension work, economic anaylysis, skills and trade programme or market access.
“Equally this should not be a debate about industry-good or commercial investment. We actually need everyone to put their [shoulders to] the wheel to make this industry move forward.
“It is not about industry-good or commercial, it is about us all collectively working together to advance the sector.”
Petersen said there was no doubt the way industry-good functioned in future would continue to evolve.
“You’ve seen the changes we’ve made since 2009. We’re getting much closer to farmers in the regions [via] the extension programmes run by farmers... through our farmer councils, the directors getting closely involved in [regional] events to get feedback and engagement on a regional basis.
“Increasingly we’re going to see the industry-good organisations working alongside commercial companies much more to help the commercial companies achieve their aims.
“Meat companies now know they cannot meet their commercial and market obligations without bringing farmers on board with their vision and aspirations and also helping farmers with the sorts of things they need to satisfy what the markets are looking for.
“We’re starting to see some changes in the promotional work we’re doing. The meat companies are getting involved in that aspect of our work. It’s an ongoing discussion as we speak, but we’re certainly talking to them about the value of that programme and how we can communicate that to farmers.”
A “game changer” for the role of industry-good organisations and how they work with commercial companies and farmers is our Primary Growth Partnership applications, Petersen says.
The red meat sector partnership aims to add $3.4 billion to the sector. A big part is leveraging investment from Meat Board funds and farmer levies alongside government funds to accelerate efforts to get those productivity gains.
“The Primary Growth Partnership is not yet approved; it has only been approved as a concept to allow us to develop a business case with our partners. We hope to go for final approval from the Primary Growth Partnership panel towards the end of this year.”
Now they had reached concept stage they had just about been overrun by commercial partners wanting to be involved, Petersen said.
“We now have Silver Fern farms coming to us and saying they want to be involved.... This is a good news story. We have banks coming to us and saying ‘how can we be a part of it?’