Fonterra has torn into Federated Farmers for "inaccurate" and "ill-informed" public comments about its Trading Among Farmers share trading scheme
Federated Farmers' Willy Leferink last week said Fonterra's overseas interests could be spun off into a listed company to raise cash.
That would also avert potential scandals like the San Lu melamine-poisoning reflecting poorly on Fonterra.
"Fonterra's core strengths are in processing, marketing and supply chain logistics, not being a corporate dairy farmer in China, Brazil and potentially India," he wrote in the Herald.
But Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings denies Trading Among Farmers is about raising capital.
“Fortunately, most of our farmer shareholders understand that Trading Among Farmers is about protecting the co-op, not raising capital for growth," he said.
“It’s disappointing to see Federated Farmers making such ill informed comments on an issue that is for our farmer shareholders to decide."
Spierings said the lobby group's "inaccurate" comments ran "completely counter" to giving farmers all the facts.
"This is about the third time that Federated Farmers has issued a media comment on Trading Among Farmers and got things wrong," he said.
“Whether it’s intentional or unintentional, it’s irresponsible and stirring up emotions among our farmers and damaging the cooperative ... I'm confident our farmers would not want us to break off bits of Fonterra and sell them to raise capital."
But he didn't rule out Fonterra involving partners in its overseas farming or processing ventures in the future.
Trading Among Farmers would enable Fonterra farmer shareholders to buy and sell shares among themselves, rather than issuing and redeeming them through the cooperative.
Farmer shareholders get a final vote on the Trading Among Farmers proposal on June 25.