Re-elected Fonterra director keen to restore trust

Newly re-elected Fonterra director Leonie Guiney wants to have New Zealand farmers "proud" of the company again.

She was voted back onto the board at the annual Fonterra AGM earlier this month after previously serving on the board from 2014 to 2017.

Ms Guiney is keen to see faith restored in Fonterra.

"Trust is everything in a co-operative, and it's our responsibility at board level to ensure that Fonterra's owners trust their leaders with their capital," she told RadioLIVE's Rural Exchange.

She believes New Zealand agriculture is the envy of the world.

"When I worked in Ireland it really crystallised for me that they envy everything we have," said Ms Guiney.

She points to grass farming systems, share-milking systems and an effective co-operative as examples of what sets New Zealand agriculture apart.

However she warns we've been taking what we have for granted.

"When we allow our reputation in New Zealand to become as sullied as it has, when we put the co-op at risk, we've had some really un-businesslike decisions in the past few years - I just can't sit by and let that happen," she said.

An independent assessment released last week found that Fonterra had consistently underperformed financially in the 17 years since its inception.

Fonterra leadership have committed to hitting earnings per share of 25-35 cents and reducing debt by $800m this financial year.

Leonie Guiney lives and farms near Fairlie, where she is a director of four dairy farming companies.

Rural Exchange with Hamish McKay, Sarah Perriam and Richard Loe, 5-7am Saturday and Sunday on RadioLIVE with Carter's Tyre Service. Click here for all the ways to watch and listen.