This is the final element of the governance changes which stemmed from the Greenburn Report which was initiated after the arrival of Mike Gallacher as the new CEO in 2015.
The activation of the new Member Council follows the establishment of a new smaller and more commercial First Milk Board at the end of 2015.
Mike Gallacher, CEO, commented:
"This concludes another key milestone in developing a professional governance structure that is fit for purpose and will deliver for members. First Milk has moved fast over the last 10 months and the pace of change will continue as we address the fundamentals of the business and work to improve our returns to members."
The new Member Council consists of the seven people (listed below). They were selected following a robust and independently scrutinised process, chaired by non-executive director and former Müller Wiseman Dairies / Adams Foods MD, Carl Ravenhall.
Carl Ravenhall said:
"I believe we have achieved a good balance between experience and fresh new ideas. We have significantly strengthened the governance of this business, with a smaller Board that has greater commercial skills and a new Member Council with clearly defined powers and responsibilities."
The Member Council's roles are to oversee the strategy of the business and represent First Milk's farmer owners. Mr Ravenhall was joined on the nominations committee by two Board members and two Area Representatives. The committee also benefitted from independent advice given by John Chillcott (non-executive director of Co-operatives UK).
John Chillcott commented on the process:
"The creation of the new Council attracted fifteen high calibre and enthusiastic candidates, all of whom were interviewed and assessed through a consistent process by the nominations committee, and the recommendations for appointment were made on the basis of the resulting ranked scores."
Carl Ravenhall added:
"The Member Council has the skills required to ensure this business acts in the best interests of its members and deals commercially with the challenges and opportunities ahead."
The new Member Council will be constituted in April and it will then appoint an independent chairperson. All Board and Council appointments will be subject to member approval later this year.
Short biographies of each new Council Member:
Christine Kelsall, Lancashire
Christine has a degree in Agricultural Economics and previous experience as a systems analyst. She took part in First Milk's development programme and was involved in the working group to review milk pools and A&B pricing. She has successfully implemented a number of key on-farm projects including a new parlour, solar panels and two wind turbines.
Scott Calderwood, Dumbartonshire
Scott farms in partnership with his brother, with a milking herd of 300 cows, a flock of 350 sheep and also a herd of 50 red deer. He is past chairman of Dumbarton & Kilpatrick NFUS and a local assessor for NFU Mutual. Scott has also previously been a director of Scottish Farm Venison and won the Norsk Hydro grassland farmer of the year competition.
Willie Purdie, Dumfries
Willie and his wife milk 190 cows on their 330 acre farm near Dumfries. He has been a First Milk Area Representative for 5 years, as well as having held posts within Young Farmers, the local Agricultural Society and most recently with the Royal Highland Educational Trust.
Mike Smith, Pembrokeshire
Mike and his brother farm about 3 miles from Haverfordwest creamery and milk 380 cows. Mike and his wife have a young family with their second son born this year. He graduated with a degree in Agriculture in 1998 and has been a member of the Welsh Assembly's dairy steering group/task force and a First Milk Area Representative since 2011. Mike also does consultancy for a firm of Chartered Surveyors.
Wendy Radley, Cheshire
Wendy and her family milk 300 cows and she was a First Milk farmer director from 2013 until the start of this year. After graduating, she worked for IBM and for the last 15 years Wendy has been a director of Datag, a farm business software company.
Robert Craig, Cumbria
Robert is a partner in two dairy farms, with a total of over 1,000 cows (growing from 80 cows 20 years ago). He is past county chairman of Cumbria NFU and a Nuffield scholar. In 2012, he became chairman of Penrith and the Border Conservative Association and in 2013 he jointly won the Farmers Weekly Dairy Farmers of The Year Award.
Willie Campbell, Ayrshire
Willie farms with his wife and son, milking 150 cows alongside sizeable beef and sheep enterprises. He has previously been both a First Milk Area Representative and Farmer Director. Willie was a council member of the Milk Development Council and past president of Ayrshire NFUS. He has been a Fellow of Royal Agricultural Society since 1994.