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Murray Goulburn "deeply sorry" to farmers

AAP logoAAP 28/10/2016 Trevor Chappell

Murray Goulburn has apologised for the burden on farmers caused by the dairy processor's surprise cut to its farmgate milk price, and will review its board structure and the way its milk prices are set.

The weeks and months after the April's shock price cut, and accompanying profit downgrade by Murray Goulburn, had been tough, chairman Philip Tracy told the company's annual general meeting on Friday.

"Every member of the co-op has been affected and everyone has had to make adjustments, sit at kitchen tables and run figures, look for savings, put off staff, cull herds - it's been extremely challenging," he said.

"I want to take this opportunity to again express how deeply sorry I am that MG suppliers have had to endure such a heavy burden."

Mr Tracy said he was ultimately accountable for Murray Goulburn's performance, and it was time for the co-operative to transition to a new chairman.

He said he would remain in the role for as long as needed to make an orderly transition, and then retire.

Murray Goulburn's board will also review its structure and composition, with the help of four new directors elected on Friday, to determine the best way of serving the co-operative of farmers.

The company is still searching for a new managing director, Mr Tracy said, after former boss Gary Helou lost his job due to the farmgate milk price cut and profit forecast downgrade.

There has been significant interest in the position, and interim chief executive David Mallinson is a very strong candidate, Mr Tracy said.

In addition to board changes, Murray Goulburn will review its process of determining the price it pays farmers for milk, and look at ways to improve Australia's pricing transparency, he said.

Dairy processors in Australia, New Zealand and Europe have different mechanisms for setting the farmgate milk price.

"It is important that MG takes the opportunity to review the best approach, so that we can ensure that the business sends the right market signals, while also balancing farmers' need for cash against what the market is paying," Mr Tracy said.

An independently-managed commodity milk price index is one option for improving pricing transparency, he added.

There are signs the imbalance between global dairy demand and supply may be correcting, but it was too early to be definitive, Mr Tracy said.

International dairy commodity prices were also looking positive and seasonal conditions looked favourable.

Murray Goulburn's listed entity, the MG Unit Trust, was seven cents higher, or 6.6 per cent, at $1.135 at 1340 AEDT.

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