1 March 2002

Share issue extended for Farmers First

FARMERS First is extending its second share issue following slow uptake from potential shareholders.

The issue, worth £1.25m, was launched in January to raise working capital for rebuilding the farmer-owned meat companys businesses after foot-and-mouth.

But applications have been slow, and the deadline has been extended by a week, to 5pm on Wed, Mar 6.

As the original deadline of Feb 27 passed, over £200,000 of shares had been applied for – well above the £100,000 minimum, but considerably under the £1.25m potential.

Group marketing director, Mike Gooding, blames the slow uptake on farmers leaving form-filling to the last moment, but admits convincing them to take a different approach can be difficult.

The capital raised will be mainly spent on developing new business and improving shareholders benefits, says Mr Gooding.

This will include better market information for, and co- ordination of, shareholders to minimise costs.

Applicants have come from almost every county in the UK – almost half of whom are new supporters, he says.

They range from existing shareholders to non-farmers and new members interested in developments like meat chips, which will be launched later this year.

Although Mr Gooding admits Farmers First will probably have to pursue other money-raising efforts in the future, he is still pleased with the interest people have shown.

"We are delighted with every new producer that joins the Farmers First initiative, as each is a step in the right direction to rebuild the industry and take control of our future."

Copies of Farmers Firsts prospectus and share application forms are available on 0870-241 0153 until Mar 6. &#42