Shareholders at sheep processor Farmers First, the business that runs the Farmers Fresh abattoir at Kenilworth in Warwickshire, have voted to retain farmer control.
At the company’s AGM earlier this month, shareholders voted for seven board resolutions and against three new director nominations that the board believed were not in the interest of the farmer-owners nor of its employees. New directors John Geldard and Andrew Peters were appointed at the AGM, and William Neville and Stuart Morris were reappointed.
In the last four years, the company has made investments of £1.36 million for the abattoir freehold and has installed a biomass boiler and solar panels, as well as a boning hall. It buys around 12,000 lambs a week, either direct from farm or from livestock marts, which it says creates competitive pressure among finished lamb buyers, giving farmers influence up the supply chain.
Farmers First chairman Terry Bayliss says: “For a business this scale, the norm for AGM elections would be 20% turnout. So it was very encouraging that 40% of our 2,700 shareholders, owning more than 50% of shares, took part. During pre-AGM consultations, we found widespread grass-roots goodwill and appreciation for the company's success as a farmer-founded and farmer-led business. Let us not forget that the balance sheet at the most recent financial year end shows shareholders' funds of £6.68 million.
“There is an ongoing investment programme to improve facilities and develop the customer offer. It is quite understandable that some busy farmers may not realise quite what a success this business is. Clearly, it is in farmer-shareholders' long term interests that they retain control of the company.”