The chairwoman of LIC Shareholder Council, Jenny Morrison, is urging shareholders to have a say on the future home of what's commonly known as "the core database".
The core database, which holds raw data relating to New Zealand dairy herds, was developed by LIC in the 1980s, on behalf of the dairy industry.
A comprehensive review of the herd-improvement movement (chaired by Professor Robert Anderson in 2009) recommended that the management of the core database should be transferred to industry good organisation DairyNZ.
Morrison says the shareholder council is in agreement with the LIC board that the transfer is a good thing for LIC.
"LIC has always been the most logical place for the core database to lie, but now that we have an industry good body it is more appropriate to transfer it to a management structure independent of any commercial herd-improvement organisation," she says.
"Over the years there has been a perception that LIC obtained a commercial advantage through its management of the core database.
"This perception has been tested a number of times by the Commerce Commission and the courts, and consistently found to have no basis - but the perception remains.
"Transferring the core database to DairyNZ will free LIC from the distraction and cost of defending its objective management of the core database, and let our co-operative concentrate on its core purpose - which is to help farmers become more efficient and profitable by genetically improving their animals and providing information, systems and technology that makes it easier to farm.
"It's important to remind farmers that we're talking about transferring the core database, which contains 46 fields of raw data.
"This in no way affects the LIC Database, which contains around 18,500 fields of commercial IP. This belongs to, and remains with, LIC."
Morrison says the proposal to transfer the core database was to be put to shareholders at the co-operative's annual meeting.
"Traditionally we don't get a high voter turnout, but it is important that shareholders take responsibility for their co-operative and the Shareholder Council is encouraging all shareholders to exercise their rights to vote either electronically or at the annual meeting."
Answers to farmers' questions about the proposal are available on the LIC website (www.lic.co.nz), and Morrison has encouraged farmers with additional questions to ring their local shareholder councillors or the director (whose details can be found on the LIC website).