Farmer shareholders in Waikato are being urged to make sure that they register their vote in the election to select three directors for the board of New Zealand dairy behemoth Fonterra.

John Storey, former Dairy Board and New Zealand Dairy Group (NZDG) chairman, said yesterday [Tuesday] he was concerned about the low numbers of farmers attending the candidate meetings.

“Dairy industry representation has traditionally been widely debated and I have no sense of that on this occasion,” Storey is reported as saying in Stuff: “It may be that farmers are mulling over their choices quietly . . . but it may also be that complacency has crept in because we now have one company. We cannot afford that situation.”

Storey added that the farmers’ votes are fundamental to the principles of Fonterra, which operates as a co-operative.

Three directors will be elected in the nationwide vote of Fonterra shareholders, and the farmers have until Friday lunchtime to return their voting papers. The appointments of directors and shareholders’ councillors will take effect from 1 June.

The candidates (in the order they appear on the ballot paper) are: Philip van der Bijl, Gerard Lynch, Malcolm Bailey, Greg Gent, Earl Rattray, Jim van der Poel, David Graham and Colin Holmes.