Ashburton-based farmer co-operative Ruralco has reported a $2.1 million loss, reflecting a challenging year for farming.
Ruralco board chair Sir David Carter announced the loss at the co-operative’s 60th annual meeting on Thursday, November 23.
He said the 2023 fiscal year has been challenging for agriculture and for Ruralco.
“Our business is closely intertwined with our farmers’ businesses,” Sir David said.
“We have been heartened by your support despite the difficult times we have all faced with rising costs and the economic downturn putting pressure on our budgets and reducing overall margins.
“Like many organisations servicing the rural community, we have also been impacted by rising interest rates, high inflation and input costs, and bad debt, while also remaining committed to ongoing projects necessary for the long-term viability of the business.
“The challenge has been to respond and adjust to these changes and commitments, resulting in our business moving from a growth strategy to a more consolidated approach, which has seen Ruralco consider all costs wherever necessary.”
This year’s group turnover was $293.3m compared to $279.1m last year.
Gross profit was $12m, the same as last year, while group equity at the end of the 2023 financial year was $15.2m, compared to last year’s $17.3m.
Sir David said despite the financial result, Ruralco’s business model remains robust and competitive.
This has been evidenced through strong support shown by members of the co-operative, especially at flagship events such as Ruralco’s Instore Days, which again drew large crowds, matching pre-covid levels.
“We were delighted by the positive response to this event given the economic climate. Instore Days is unique to Ruralco and a mainstay on farmers’ calendars, and next year the iconic event will mark a significant milestone as it celebrates its 30th anniversary, a testament to its successful formula and the high regard shown it by all sectors of the farming industry.”
As Ruralco celebrates its 60th anniversary, the co-operative’s commitment to the rural community remains strong, Sir David said.
“We are committed to the rural sector and your success.
“We are interdependent and recognise that your success is also our success. To that end, we will continue to deliver on our promises and stay true to our core values.”
Two new directors were welcomed to the board at the annual meeting.
In accordance with the society’s rules, Sir David retired by rotation and was available for re-election, while earlier in the year, an additional vacancy was created by the resignation of a sitting director.
Prior to the election, it was decided to widen the skill set of the board of directors by increasing the number of shareholder elected positions from five to six, creating an additional vacancy.
Two nominations were received: one from David Barron, the current managing director of IT consulting and services business, Christchurch-based Nectar Group. Barron is also director of farming enterprises, Tallarook Dairies and Rahi Partnership.
The second nomination was Kate Beaumont-Smith, a Mid Canterbury dairy farmer who has been contract milking for the past four seasons and was formerly a lawyer locally, and in England and Wales.
Sir David, Barron and Beaumont-Smith were duly elected unopposed.