Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) is concerned about Fonterra’s moves to extend the time it takes to pay contractors as part of an efficiency drive. The organisation, which represents NZ’s agricultural contractors, concerns come in the wake of reports that Fonterra has extended by two months the time it takes to pay suppliers; while also asking them to cut their charges. The dairy co-op has defended the move as about boosting efficiency. RCNZ president Steve Levet says this is not the type of action an industry-leader like Fonterra should be undertaking. “It sends a terrible message to farmers. That it is ok to delay paying suppliers and that is not on,” Mr Levet says. “We all understand the dairy sector is undergoing a very, tough period. But this should not be used as an excuse to not pay contractors in a fair and timely manner.” Mr Levet believes dairy farmers – many who will be making a loss this year – would not approve of such action and he does not want to see them to take a similar stance with their own suppliers. “Dairy farmers – on the whole – are good and fair people, but when Fonterra takes a stance like this – they make think it is ok for them to do the same. “I can tell you rural contractors are hurting just as much as dairy farmers. The last thing we need is for people to delaying paying us or trying to talk down pricing. We all have to live.” Mr Levet has called on dairy farmers to pressure Fonterra to ensure it treat its contractors fairly.