The Co-operative Farming: Blueprint for future proofing Aussie farmers report is being published at an extraordinary time in human history as we confront the community and economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The crisis has also come on the back of a summer of unprecedented fires which followed prolonged drought. Many of the impacts will be long lasting and communities will need to be resourceful, resilient and entrepreneurial to meet the challenges ahead.
The storm clouds have aligned for the co-operative movement to step up with solutions; consumers want to support organisations that have community values, governments are willing to listen to the co-operative sector and are prepared to make positive changes, and agricultural producers are showing increasing interest in co-operative structures.
The growing interest of consumers to connect to the farm communities, and understand how their food is produced, is stronger than ever. And in the new world of COVID-19, consumers and government want to rebuild Australia’s food manufacturing sector to secure our supply chains, food security and to support Australian businesses and farmers.
For this to occur will require a collaborative approach across the entire supply chain. Farmers will need to produce regular supplies of high-quality product to facilitate cost effective transport and manufacturing solutions. This will demand innovative thinking in research and development, not just at farm level but across the industry.
The Australian agricultural community is blessed with a ‘can do’ attitude.
We will find solutions that allow farmers and manufacturers to work collaboratively to improve productivity and manage our high cost of labour. A collective and collaborative approach is needed to ensure that our finished goods are fairly priced in the market so that the Australian consumer is getting value for money but also to facilitate the development of export markets.
Government can play a key role in supporting Australian co-operatives to lead this innovative and exciting period.
We are grateful for the Federal Government’s investment in educating and informing farmers, fishers and foresters about the co-operative business model started with the Farming Together program and now Co-operative Farming.
As a farmer that has been involved with co-operative enterprise for over three decades, I am pleased to be able to share my knowledge and experiences with a new generation of farmers looking for ways to compete and be sustainable in farming in Australia. This project created a fantastic opportunity for the farming community to discover how co-operating in business can lead to more sustainable farm incomes, a fairer return to the farm gate and high value, fresh produce for Australians and communities around the world.
Greg McNamara, CEO, Dairy farmer and Co-operative Farming Envoy