Meat & Livestock News

Farmers Stand Firm: No Increase to B+LNZ Director Fees Amid Economic Strain

TL;DR: At their annual meeting, 66% of B+LNZ voting farmers rejected a proposed increase to director fees, reflecting broader concerns over current financial strains. The proposal sought to raise the total director fees pool to $475,000 annually. Amidst economic challenges, the farming community calls for fiscal restraint, mirroring their own financial pressures.

In a decisive move at Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) recent annual meeting in Nelson, a significant majority of farmers voiced their opposition to a proposed hike in director fees. With 66% of votes cast against the motion, the suggestion to increase the director fees pool by $73,500 to a total of $475,000 per annum was firmly rejected.

This proposal would have seen the chair’s annual fee rise to $90,000 from $76,220, while each director’s compensation would have increased to $45,000 from the current $38,110. Additionally, the allocation for extra directorial duties was slated to expand to $25,000, up from $20,000.

The rejection underscores a wider sentiment of fiscal prudence among the farming community, particularly in light of the current economic climate. Toby Williams, Federated Farmers meat and wool chair and a sheep farmer from Gisborne, expressed little surprise at the outcome.

He highlighted the financial hardships faced by farmers, stating, “Farmers are finding it tough, and they believe everyone else should be tightening their belts too.”

Williams also critiqued the timing of the proposal and pointed out the relatively low voter turnout, with only 12% of farmers participating. Of the 1,540 farmers who voted, 976 opposed the fee increase, 510 supported it, and 54 abstained.

Despite the setback on director fees, a second resolution regarding the appointment of the auditor received overwhelming support, with 96% approval from voting farmers.

Chair Kate Acland acknowledged the vote’s outcome, respecting the clear message from farmers regarding the current economic hardships. She indicated that, although B+LNZ’s director fees remain below industry benchmarks, the issue would be revisited when conditions improve.

The meeting also saw the passage of three farmer-sponsored resolutions, reflecting the community’s strong views on emissions, the impact of NZ ruminants on global warming, and resistance to genetically engineered practices.

These decisions highlight the farming community’s active engagement in shaping the future of agriculture in New Zealand, prioritising sustainability and environmental responsibility even amid financial challenges.