Silver Fern Farms must consider all options

Silver Fern Farms should seriously consider local bids to ensure its vital meat industry cooperative remains in New Zealand hands, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says.

“Shareholders will next month vote on a proposal by China's largest meat processor Shanghai Maling to invest $261 million in Silver Fern Farms.

“Hope was raised today that a group of New Zealand investors would put forward a new proposal that would also be voted on at the Dunedin meeting.

“It comes as the Meat Industry Excellence group also takes a swipe at the Government for turning its back on the sector.

“Investment by Shanghai Maling would effectively be a buyout of our biggest meat company and a strategic asset in our primary industry sector.

“Silver Fern Farms was formed to protect the interests of farmers who were fleeced by foreign-owned companies with connections directly into the markets. This deal is a repeat of this historic foreign industry control.

“It would be a tragedy if Silver Fern Farms’ directors allowed the cooperative to get to the state that the only viable option was a sell-out to a Chinese company. That would reflect their failed governance.

“New Zealand needs a comprehensive meat industry strategy. The international demand for quality pasture-fed protein will continue to grow and we must be at the forefront of this lucrative market,” Damien O’Connor says.