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The sale of Westland Milk Products to Chinese dairy company Yili does not mean the cooperative model is dead says Marc Rivers.

In fact, Fonterra's chief financial officer told The Country's Jamie Mackay the dairy co-op model was not only "strong and healthy", but gave farmer shareholders "more control over their own destiny".

Rivers told Mackay he thought it was "unfortunate" that some industry commentators questioned the future of dairy cooperatives.

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"It's important that co-ops continue to be successful for New Zealand. Unlike a corporate, the co-op is there to support their owners and local communities".

"Some of the largest and longest-operating dairy companies in the world are co-ops, so I think it's important for us to remember that".

Also in today's interview: Rivers talks about Fonterra's James Roberston who won the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final for 2019, saying "he'll be quite a celebrity back here in the Auckland office".