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Fonterra's milk collection drops, confirms early dividend

WELLINGTON, May 16 (Reuters) - New Zealand dairy co-operative Fonterra said on Monday its milk collection for the last season had dropped 3 percent due to low global prices, and confirmed it would make an early dividend payment next month to help...

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WELLINGTON, May 16 (Reuters) - New Zealand dairy co-operative Fonterra said on Monday its milk collection for the last season had dropped 3 percent due to low global prices, and confirmed it would make an early dividend payment next month to help struggling farmers.

"It continues to be a tough season for our farmers with ongoing pressure on the Farmgate Milk Price due to the supply and demand imbalance in the global dairy market," Fonterra said in a business update.

It said it would pay a dividend of NZ$0.10 per share in June to help farmers struggling with cash flow. The co-operative would normally have made the payment in October. Its total forecast annual dividend was NZ$0.40 cents per share.

Fonterra plans to provide its forecast Farmgate milk price for 2016/2017 at the end of May.

New Zealand's dairy industry, until recently the backbone of the country's economy, representing about 25 percent of its exports, has been hard hit by an approximately 60 percent fall in dairy prices since early 2014.

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Farmers have had NZ$7 billion ($4.74 billion) wiped away from their collective revenue in the past two years.

The fortnightly global dairy auction earlier this month showed dairy prices had slipped after two consecutive auctions of gains. The next auction will take place early on Wednesday morning. (Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Paul Simao)

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