Northland dairy farmers reeling at Fonterra's forecast $675 million loss say it's a bitter pill to swallow — but back its new boss for confronting the co-op's woes head-on.

The dairy co-op's massive expected loss is due mainly to write-downs in the value of failed overseas ventures.

The company, New Zealand's biggest, says it won't pay a dividend to its 10,000 farmer-shareholders this financial year and will instead use the cash to pay off burgeoning debt.

Fonterra's troubles have sparked comparisons with the fate of Westland Milk Products, which was sold to a Chinese dairy firm earlier this year.