WEST PERTH, AUSTRALIA — The grower members of Co-operative Bulk Handling Ltd have voted overwhelmingly to modernize its constitution and transition to the new Western Australia Co-operatives Act, CBH announced on May 4.

CBH Group Chairman Neil Wandel said the outcome of the Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) demonstrated the strong level of grower support for the direction being taken by their cooperative.

“This was the next important step in our journey following the board’s decision in January that CBH should remain a cooperative totally focused on the best interests of growers,” Wandel said. “We are now able to move forward using all the mechanisms available under our preferred structure to create and return value to growers."

Wandel thanked the many members who took the time to vote, either by proxy or by attending the EGM.

“We recognized that the timing so close to seeding was not ideal but it was very important that as many members as possible utilized the opportunity to take control of the future of their cooperative,” he said.

Of those members who voted, 96.66% supported the first resolution to transition to the new WA Co-operatives Act. All WA cooperatives must apply for registration under the new Act by May 31, 2012.

Wandel said CBH believed it would be the first WA cooperative to transition.

“As Australia’s largest cooperative, it is pleasing that we are leading the way,” he said.

Of those members who voted, 96.33% supported the second resolution to adopt a new set of modernized rules for CBH.

The differences to the previous constitution include setting out active membership requirements, including provisions for the issue of Cooperative Capital Units as a means of raising capital and increasing the number of grower members required to requisition a Special General Meeting.

A third unrelated resolution saw members overwhelmingly ratify the appointment of Diane Smith-Gander as a director.

Wandel said it was pleasing to see members endorse the appointment of such an experienced and outstanding director to the CBH board.

“The EGM outcome is another significant step forward for our grower members and a strong endorsement of the board’s focus on creating and returning value to growers,” he said. “It gives CBH a mandate to maintain our commitment to delivering the lowest possible storage, handling and freight costs to port, expanding rewards for grower patronage, introducing more new grower-centered products and services and investigating new grower investment opportunities.”