Today was the annual shareholder meeting for Monsanto Company. I’ve been to several of these before, both here at Monsanto and for other companies. I can remember the first one I went to… it really didn’t match my expectations. I’m not sure what I expected – maybe something like the excitement in “Mr Deeds.”
Although I like to know how the business is doing and how shareholders voted on topics in front of them, the central part of the meeting for me has been participation of farmers. Maybe that’s because I’m working here everyday and feel like I have a really good feel for what we are doing in the business, but there is always so much to learn in talking to customers.
There are various groups of customers who advise our business. And for the last several years, some of those groups have coordinated meetings to go along with the annual meeting. This year was no different.
Hugh Grant, Monsanto’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, introduced each of them. There were nine farm families recognized today and they produce 13 different crops – corn, soybeans, cotton, wheat, canola, cattle, turkeys, timber, barley, field peas, sunflowers, potatoes and rice! After each was recognized individually, Hugh said “thank you for all you do to put food on our tables.”
The business portion of annual shareholders meetings is there are decisions that all shareholders have a voice in and all shareholders should be updated on what’s happening in the business. A lot of that is done between the time that the proxy and the annual reports are mailed out to shareholders, but the annual meeting still plays a role in providing that in-person visit.
Today’s meeting covered several decisions where votes were put in front of the company’s shareholders. Straight-forward votes like electing board members to new four-year terms went forward without discussion. There was some discussion from people who had questions about things that are going on in the company and some of the matters currently discussed in the public eye.
I’d love to hear from any of you who have been to annual meetings for publicly-held companies. Does this sound familiar?