About Co-operative Farming

Farmers, fishers and foresters

The Co-operative Farming project provides farmers, fishers and foresters with information and resources to support them in setting up or growing a co-operative.

This 18-month project will help to support Australian primary producers to form new co-operatives, as well as foster the resilience and growth of developing farming co-operatives.

Co-operative Farming is supported by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment through the Australian Government’s Starting Farm Co-operatives Program.

The project includes a range of resources and events, including a co-operative advice and information hotline, financial support through educational bursaries program, and online tools, resources and online course modules.

To make sure farmers, fishers and foresters have access to the best advice, skills and information on starting up and running successful co-operatives, we want to increase access to the knowledge of co-operative experts through a dedicated mentorship program.

Three project envoys and eight champions  have been appointed to lead the industry and community engagement aspects of the Co-operative Farming project. These mentors have a demonstrated track record in running successful agricultural co-operatives will engage with farmers and farm groups through facilitated information sessions and workshops and one-on-one communication to inspire, support and guide them through their co-op formation.

COVID-19 and the Co-operatives Farming program

We have developed a dynamic program of lives streaming events, interactive online forums and meet-ups to deliver Co-operative Farming through the crisis or until we can schedule field events.

The benefits of co-operative models for farmers, fishers and foresters

Maintaining the domestic ownership of strategic food assets, thus increasing food security for Australians

Australian co-operatives are domestically owned, unlike their listed competitors which may be bought by overseas investors. Co-operative ownership ensures that the production of strategic food assets remain in the control of Australians.

Helping to generate significant export earnings

Agriculture and fishery co-operatives are net exporters, making a positive contribution to Australia’s balance of trade.

Facilitating independent Australian farmers to compete by providing access to markets

Agricultural co-operatives are groups of independent small businesses, who are working together to provide logistics, marketing and infrastructure in order to access markets in ways that they cannot alone.

Facilitating economies of scale by enabling individual businesses to jointly own and control their supply chain

Family owned farms invest in road, rail and sea transportation operated through their co-operative, to ensure that their produce gets to market in as cost effective a way as possible. Enable smaller farmers and fishermen to stay in business and remain independent When independent businesses co-operate in this way, they can meet global competition from large corporates head on.

Maintaining a traditional way of life whilst providing economic growth to strengthen Australia’s regions

Individual farm businesses all contribute to their regional way of life, maintaining business presence and contributing taxes through the success they generate from their co-operative membership.

Spreading wealth back to farmers through produce rebates and profit-sharing

Co-operatives are not set up to maximise profits – instead they share wealth equitably among their farmer members in proportion to their contribution to the co-op.

Watch

BCCM CEO Melina Morrison, on could co-operative farming future proof Australian farmers?

“It’s a program of education, of support, information, and most importantly it’s a chance to learn from other farmers, as we have today, about the co-operative business farming model. We’ve got into a partnership with the Commonwealth government to deliver this program for the next 12 months, so it goes until July of 2021 and . You can apply for an education bursary. You can ask for a farm mentor. You can get one-on-one support and bespoke advice around your collaboration or your co-operative ideas. Online, you can access this great suite of great suite of free resources that are all about learning about the co-operative business model, accessing education resources.”

Extracted from Co-operative Conversations, Episode 1

Co-operative enterprises are business vehicles that enable farmers to work together and support each other.

Melina MorrisonBCCM CEO