Former Fonterra chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden has backed the current chairman John Wilson, saying no New Zealand farmer would be arguing with the current milk price forecast - one of the co-op's highest since its inception.

Regional Development Minister Shane Jones yesterday called for Wilson to follow chief executive Theo Spierings, who announced his resignation in March, out of the door.

Jones said he told the company it should stop being political and instead focus on its business.

"They should focus less on interfering in politics and more on justifying the money they've lost overseas. I believe that they have become disconnected from the farming community," Jones said.

In May, former director Harry Bayliss called on Wilson to "move on" after what he said was the co-operative's ongoing underperformance.


Fonterra had earlier issued its nine-month business update which featured a strong farmgate milk price but which also highlighted a downward pressure on the company's earnings.

But van der Heyden, speaking on NZME's The Country radio show, said Wilson had done a good job.

"I think that if you ask any dairy farmer in New Zealand - if you ask them if they are happy with a $7.00 milk price - I don't think there will be one who will be unhappy with a $7.00 milk price," van der Heyden said.

However, he said work was needed to improve Fonterra's dividend, which this year will be impacted by the high milk price, writedowns of its investment in China's Beingmate, and the Danone legal settlement.

"I think there needs to be some work done in that area, but if you look at everything in combination, Fonterra has done a really good job - led by John - around the milk price - and the milk price is always going to be 90 per cent of [farmers'] revenue line," he said.

Wilson, who became Fonterra's chairman in 2012, and directors Ashley Waugh and Nicola Shadbolt are due to retire this year by rotation. It will be up to them as to whether they stand again in the co-operative's director elections later this year.

Van der Heyden, who is the current chairman of Rabobank New Zealand, was chairman of Fonterra from 2002 to 2012.