Episode 1

The little dairy co-operative that could

What happened when this group of Victorian dairy farmers took on the big guns

 

After the collapse and then demutualisation of the Murray Goulburn Co-operative, a group of Victorian dairy farmers nearly walked away from farming altogether. But they regrouped, joined forces, and helped to secure the future of their community by working together in a co-operative business model. Today, the Mountain Milk Co-operative is proud to be one of Australia’s newest and highest quality dairy businesses. Join renowned agriculture journalist Pete Lewis as he talks to Stuart Crosthwaite, Chairperson of Mountain Milk Co-operative, about their interesting adventures in farming.

Listen to Episode 1

Episode 1 transcript

Melina Morrison:

Hi, I’m Melina Morrison, CEO of Business Council Co-operatives and Mutuals.  Welcome to our Co-operative Farming podcast series. Co-operative Farming is a series about farmers transforming their business by working together. Through their stories warts and all, you will learn how positive the co-operative business model can be to farming and how it can literally change lives.

Today, Stuart Crosthwaite, Chairperson of the Mountain Milk Co-operative. The Mountain Milk journey really is a David and Goliath story. It tells of a small group of Victorian Dairy Farmers who were farming with Australia’s largest dairy co-op.

For me, this is an inspiring story of how an astute group of farmers saw the writing on the wall and formed the Mountain Milk Co-operative 12 months before the eventual demise of Murray Goulburn.

You will get an insight of how you can go from the edge of disaster, to creating a business direction the next generations will be inspired to follow.

Here’s our host, renowned agricultural journalist, Peter Lewis. Enjoy!

Pete Lewis:

But now we’re joined by somebody who you could safely call a bit of an expert in farming, and in building and growing cooperatives. Stuart Crosthwaite, a passionate, fifth generation dairy farmer, and Chair of not only Australia’s most interesting farming co-op, but one of the newest dairy businesses formed just three years ago, 2017, Mountain Milk.

Pete Lewis:

It’s really evident that Stuart and his fellow members in Mountain Milk believe strongly in what they’ve done to get to this point, with a lot of troughs and a lot of triumphs along the way. He has a very compelling story to tell us tonight, and I’m delighted to welcome him to it.

Pete Lewis:

Stuart, you’re coming to us tonight from your family farm, Hermitage Dairy in northeast Victoria. It’s great to have you with us.

Stuart Crosthwaite:

Thanks for having me.

Pete Lewis:

Now, you’ve got a Bachelor in Agriculture, a Masters of Agribusiness, and a grad diploma of applied science, as well as a past career consulting. Now I’m hoping that you might’ve been able to get in when tertiary education was free, because that little lot itself sounds like you would need to own three or four businesses. Fortunately, of course, the government has now made agricultural studies a lot cheaper than they were about a month ago, which is a great thing. But that’s a significant body of experience and time spent studying Ag.

Stuart Crosthwaite:

Yeah, it is. I’m certainly a qualified dairy farmer.

Pete Lewis:

Some of that study, I understand, occurred over in the ditch. You went over to the land of the long white cloud.

Stuart Crosthwaite:

I received a scholarship from Dairy Australia, and went and studied over there for a year, and learned a lot about… It probably inspired me to go farming, to be honest.

Pete Lewis:

They certainly have a tremendous record, particularly in dairy, but just applying really good ideas and practices and a lot of commonsense frankly, to the business of farming, whatever it is.

Stuart Crosthwaite:

Yeah, they’re certainly innovative. They’re always testing the rules and looking for new innovations and new ways to improve. So yeah, no it was a fantastic time.

Pete Lewis:

Thinking outside the square. So someone like you, who’s had the vantage point both here and over there, you’re in a pretty good position to give us a bit of a quick snapshot of the dairy game in Australia, and what it’s worth particularly to your neck of the woods.

Stuart Crosthwaite:

Yeah, it’s been a tough few years. We’ve had our fair share of ups and downs. But, our particular group of farmers live in a pretty reliable part of the world. It’s nice rainfall, very reliable. Obviously we have our ups and downs seasonally, but it’s a great place to farm and it’s very reliable.

Pete Lewis:

What’s dairy worth to your part of Victoria?

Stuart Crosthwaite:

It’s significant. It actually occupies about 8% of the land. So it has a very small footprint, but contributes around 30-40% of the farm gate income. Most of the farming surrounding us is grazing, so beef, sheep and dairy, so for such a small footprint, it does pack a big punch. When you add the jobs associated with processing and all the other parts of the industry locally, it’s a pretty big contributor to the local economy.

Pete Lewis:

Where does your milk go? What does it end up in? In milk bottles, or is it in the production part of the dairy game?

Stuart Crosthwaite:

Before we formed our co-op, all of our milk in the region used to go to the local manufacturing site at Kiewa, which is about 15-20 kilometres from here. It was processing about 150 million litres of milk. There’s about 200 odd million litres of milk in the region. So most of that would be going to a larger processor, like Murray Goulburn or Saputo, or someone like that, and processed into powder, cheese, all sorts of stuff. Now that we’ve formed our co-op, all of our milk is going towards Shepparton, which is roughly a couple of hours away from here. Sorry, it’s processed into UHD.

Pete Lewis:

All right. Well, let’s talk about the background of why your co-op was formed. About 12 months before its collapse, you could see the writing on the wall for Murray Goulburn, so a group of dairy farmers, including yourself, knew you were in an industry that was facing some very fundamental and severe challenges, including the tanking of the milk price, which I think everybody around Australia has probably got across in one form or another over that time. Tell us about the situation you were in, and what were the principle worries for you going forward, as somebody who wanted to stay in dairying and make a quid.

Stuart Crosthwaite:

Yeah, thanks Peter. We were really worried about our futures. We were certainly not receiving a fair market price for our milk. It was unbelievably stressful financially. There was certainly a lot of uncertainty. It was, as I said, stressful. It was frustrating. I think, for decades, probably the best part of a century, we’ve been part of a co-op of one form or another, and the marketing and selling of our milk and getting our milk to market was taken care for us. So, all of a sudden we were increasingly looking like Murray Goulburn was going to fail, and was failing us. In the end we were probably being treated like numbers, and we certainly didn’t feel like we were part of any sort of membership, or co-op for that matter.

Pete Lewis:

As we said, some of them when they work they work extremely well, and when they don’t work, they fail spectacularly as well. My understanding is that you were struggling in a very high cost system that encouraged flat milk production, rather than focusing on profit at the farm level. You were also geographically cornered, with no other milk processors in your region. So I guess you had the double whammies. You were really boxed in, in every respect.

Stuart Crosthwaite:

Yeah, exactly. That was the pressure that we were under, and it was real. In our local region, Murray Goulburn was collecting all of the milk. There were two processors paying farmers, but all of the milk was being picked up by Murray Goulburn, so there was effectively an anti-competitive arrangement between Murray Goulburn and that other processor. As farmers, we weren’t able to switch to the other processor. So, that’s okay, if your processor’s performing, but when it’s not, it can be frustrating. So our objective in the early days was, if we could attract at least one more processor to the region, that would be a great outcome for our farming community. Just to give them another choice, another option to sell their milk.

Stuart Crosthwaite:

So on farm, we get paid via a payment structure that is generally all about the processor. It’s about reducing their costs and making the processing side of the equation really profitable. Don’t get me wrong, we need to have profitable processors, but at the end of the day, it was transferring pressure and costs to the farmer. When you’re only getting paid for 12 months for your milk, and you’ve got a high cost structure, because you’re trying to meet the incentives of the processor, it really does expose you to the ups and downs and the volatility of the market.

Stuart Crosthwaite:

So, we really were hunting for factories that could complement our seasonal patterns, our climate and our farming systems.

Pete Lewis:

So what was the final straw? What was the impetus to form a new dairy business as a co-op? What was the final crunch?

Stuart Crosthwaite:

As I just said, I think the main impetus was just simply in the early days was just to try and attract another processor into the region, to create some competitive pressure and give the farmers another choice and another route to market. I suppose, we pretty quickly realised that, hang on, there’s probably more of an opportunity here than just that. Here’s an opportunity for us to potentially find some extra value, add more value to the outcomes for the farmers. Initially we had several discussions with farmers that were surrounding… we had key advisors. We had industry leaders, local leaders. We just generally got together to discuss our options and there was overwhelming support to do something. I suppose we just felt that, there’s an opportunity here. Why don’t we just have a go and see where it gets us, and that’s what we started off doing.

Pete Lewis:

In that case, how did the co-operative approach end up being the solution for you? What was it about that structure that you still liked and were still drawn to?

Stuart Crosthwaite:

Well, all of a sudden we were surrounded by huge corporates. So Murray Goulburn was failing, and then it was taken over by Saputo. All the rest of the main processors are huge corporates as well. I think the co-operative structure really focuses your intentions on creating value for your members. I think, when you become part of a huge company, and a huge co-op, you can sometimes, it’s difficult to maintain that member connection and communication. So it’s amazing how refocused and how effective the co-op structure is, while you’re small, and being able to maximise that communication and connection. I think it’s been a lot clearer to us that there’s a real competitive advantage in being aligned with the co-op structure. Three of the directors that are involved in the co-op went off and did some studies with the University of Newcastle in understanding co-ops and the governance of co-ops and the history of them. I think that’s really opened our eyes to the opportunity and the potential of what a co-op can be.

Stuart Crosthwaite:

Because, up until that point, Murray Goulburn was really our benchmark, and probably an example of some things that you shouldn’t do now. Yeah, so we see an opportunity to redefine what a co-op is, and how a business should responsibly support its members and its farmers.

Pete Lewis:

So how does yours work? Tell us a little bit about the structure of Mountain Milk, your co-operative, and how it works day to day.

Stuart Crosthwaite:

So the structure of the co-op is, we have a board of five directors. Those directors are all farmers at the moment. When I say at the moment, we have a board that is surrounded by professionals that help us make decisions. So, we’re not immune, and we’re not… We’re aware enough to know that we don’t have all the skills to make decisions on everything. So where we feel like we’re under skilled a bit, we bring people in to help us. We’ve got an amazing amount of support behind us that is from ex-CEOs of companies, to financial support, accountants, you name it, and marketing people as well. It’s been amazing the support that we’ve got to be able to help us.

Stuart Crosthwaite:

In terms of structure, we’ve got a board of five. We have monthly board meetings. We employ one person who is our CEO. So it’s a normal business. We’ve put a lot of time and effort into developing policy and structure. Yeah, we function like a normal business.

Pete Lewis:

As we’ve seen and heard as this series has evolved, one of the great strengths of co-operatives is that members really feel as though they have a say in how that organisation is run, and the future strategies and the direction. I guess the big challenge is, how do you keep everybody on the same page, heading in the right direction, and part of a team?

Stuart Crosthwaite:

Yeah, it’s one of the arm wrestles with any business, but particularly a co-op where you’re focusing on your members and value creation for your members. It’s easy while we’re small. Most of the members are represented on the board, and the handful that aren’t, it’s just a matter of picking up the phone and having a chat to them. So, I think there was a real benefit in doing those studies through the University of Newcastle. It really reinforced that for a co-op to succeed, you need to be really well connected with your members and communicate strongly with them. We’ve made a real effort to involve them in most of the decision making, in particular the big decisions that we’ve had to make along the way.

Pete Lewis:

Lets, if we can now, talk about your personal situation. You alluded at the start about what a stressful situation really led to the formation of Mountain Milk. How was your own business traveling at that time?

Stuart Crosthwaite:

Oh, look it was an unbelievably stressful time. We had lots and lots of outstanding bills. I think it created a lot of uncertainty. It was probably the first time in my career that I felt… I was kind of thinking well, I was questioning whether I wanted to be farming any more. I’m normally glass half full and really positive and passionate about what I’m doing. I suppose for me to be questioning that, it really did knock us around. I think the biggest disappointing part of it was how we were treated as humans, and when you’re part of a co-operative, it should be operating like a family and like a membership. When we were being treated poorly, it really did knock us around a bit.

Pete Lewis:

Those of us that were watching at arms length were certainly aware of the incredible strain that was on family farms and family dairy farms, for a whole host of reasons, and the pressures that they were getting at retail, and all those kinds of things. But, as you’d said, you’d put an enormous amount of effort, and had a lot of skin in the game, but even you questioned whether, at the end of the day, it was worthwhile sticking with it and maintaining that enormous investment of capital and human capital.

Stuart Crosthwaite:

Yeah, look I mean, at the end of the day, you just felt like you were a number. There were special deals being done for big farms versus small farms. You felt like you were helpless to a large degree. That feeling of helplessness and as you said earlier, being geographically cornered, only one option to sell your milk to the market. We had two options. We could do nothing, or we could fight our way out of it and see what was out there and see if we could come up with a better outcome for everyone.

Pete Lewis:

Interestingly enough, given the experience that you’d had with Murray Goulburn, which at one stage was one of Australia’s largest dairy processors and a co-operative until its corporatization, yet you still inherently felt that there was strength within the co-operative approach.

Stuart Crosthwaite:

Yeah, I like how you mention in your question there about corporatization, because it really did feel like MG had really removed itself from its co-operative principles and was behaving really like its competitors. When it partly listed on the Stock Exchange, and I think as soon as it did that, it completely lost the plot in terms of its ability to communicate with its members like a co-op should. So, that was a huge part of it.

Stuart Crosthwaite:

When we got together and started discussing what we could do in the early days, we said to ourselves, we really want every kilogram of milk solids to be paid the same. So whether you milk a thousand cows, or a hundred cows, your milk should be valued the same as the other guy. So, that was a big part of our impetus and desire. We wanted everyone to be treated equally. We asked ourselves, how do we want to be related to each other? It probably would have been simpler to put a company together and just get on with it, but the co-op structure really hit a cord with us, because everyone was equal.

Stuart Crosthwaite:

I’ll read you our values that we came up with at the start of the initiative. We wanted to act with honesty, integrity and transparency. We wanted to support our members equally. We share the risks and rewards of working together and we want to give back to our communities and our industry. So, we thought long and hard, even before we started the business, whatever it was going to be, that this is how we want to operate. When you look into what a co-operative is and should be, a lot of those things that I just mentioned are really strong in the ingredients of a co-operative.

Pete Lewis:

I guess, probably in the dim dark past, the people who put together Murray Goulburn probably would have had the same objectives as you very, very properly illustrated and described. They got away from their core business and their core responsibility.

Pete Lewis:

If you’ve just dropped in on our discussion, we’re speaking to Stuart Crosthwaite, a fifth generation dairy farmer from northeast Victoria and we’re looking at the Mountain Milk Co-operative. It’s worth just reminding us just how significant the Australian dairy industry is to our economy. It’s the third largest rural industry with gross value of $4 billion. For the Alpine Valleys of northeast Victoria, where Stuart is from, the dairy related industry contributes more than $380 billion dollars through farm gate income, through food processing activity and the dairy service sector, and it supports 750 jobs. Big numbers.

Pete Lewis:

Stuart, what are your current challenges, and what keeps you up at night?

Stuart Crosthwaite:

Being a diary farmer, it doesn’t keep me up at night. I don’t-

Pete Lewis:

[crosstalk 00:23:38]-

Stuart Crosthwaite:

… fall asleep pretty easily. But to be honest, it’s probably more positive things that keep me up at night. We’re constantly thinking about how we can create better links to our community. We set out to put this co-op together purely to create a better outcome for our farming community. I think we’re constantly asking ourselves, how can we do this better? How can we better communicate it to the farming community? How can we improve things, and generally create more value?

Pete Lewis:

Yeah, you’ve said that being part of a co-operative is your competitive advantage, and it was a deliberate and measured move. How does it do that, and how does this compare if you were operating under any other company structure as you indicated, like just forming your own company?

Stuart Crosthwaite:

Yeah, I think this is really key to why and what we’ve done. We’re running a dairy farming business. I think in farming we can be a little bit precious about being farmers. It’s really, at the end of the day like any other industry, like any other business, we’re running a business, we’re trying to create profit. So, all of the corporate processes will provide you an economic service. It’s generally centred around milk price. I think the opportunity we have with the co-op, is to focus on profit and the other side of the equation as well. So, we’re kidding ourselves if we’re going to create a business that isn’t going to deliver a good economic outcome for our farmers. So we need a good milk price and a good structure.

Stuart Crosthwaite:

But, there’s an opportunity here to also look at how we farm together and how we can improve some of the efficiencies and some of the problems that we’re facing as farmers. From reducing plastic waste to reducing energy consumption. Improving animal health and welfare. All those sorts of things. I think, if you wanted to bottle that into a summary, how can we farm together.=? So it’s not necessarily being a processor, it’s about a collaboration of farmers, enjoying their scale to get a better outcome from the route to market, but also finding ways on how we can work together and farm together and be really innovative in that space.

Stuart Crosthwaite:

I think throughout Europe they’re doing a lot of this sort of thing, in sharing equipment and farming together. We sort of think there’s an opportunity here to use the co-op model and that philosophy to innovate in our own right and try and stay ahead of the game.

Pete Lewis:

Talk to us about some of the difficulties. Obviously it wasn’t all plain sailing. What are the lessons, what are the significant lessons you’ve learned about where you’ve got to at this point?

Stuart Crosthwaite:

Look, some of the key lessons are more around, I think if you’re going to start out any new business, you need good plans. You need good governance. You need good people, and you need really good plans. We probably put a lot of time and effort into building a foundation of strength so we… You know, the last three years have been unbelievably uncertain, with the virus and the Murray Goulburn collapsing and all sorts of volatility surrounding us. I think the key thing for me is that, at every turn when our plans have been challenged a little bit, the strategic plan and the business plan and the updates that we’ve done to those, have really stood up. We might have changed a few things, and we might have been a bit flexible on a few things, but generally we’ve stayed true to our word and we’ve followed the direction and the consensus that we’ve all agreed to.

Pete Lewis:

Your co-op is fundamentally a milk brokerage. In this current business model, is there room for growth in this particular structure, and why would this be important for the co-op?

Stuart Crosthwaite:

To the outsider it might look like a milk brokerage business, but we certainly do not see ourselves as a milk brokering business. It’s about creating value. It’s more than just milk price. I think some of the things that maybe spectators don’t see is the things that we’re working on that are adding extra value to our members. We have big ambitions. We have significant plans to add value above and beyond the price and the terms that we’ve negotiated for the bulk of our milk. Look, if you’re sitting in the grandstand watching the Mountain Milk Co-op move ahead, then just stay in your seat for a little bit longer. It’s more than a milk broking business.

Pete Lewis:

Look, I know it’s important to you that the co-op is actually bigger than its profit margin. How do you and the team work towards, not just the financials, but I guess the holistic sort of significance of what you’re doing and where you’re doing it?

Stuart Crosthwaite:

The financials are important. So profitability is important. As I said just before, we’re kidding ourselves if we don’t have a decent economic outcome for our members. Don’t get me wrong. That is really important, but we have an opportunity here to… we’re all really proactive farmers. We’re all keen to tackle difficult problems. So our efforts to work on issues together just have happened really naturally. So the co-op model is a great fit for us. It’s fostering that aspect of our businesses. Like the set of values that I read out to you earlier, our strategy and members being involved in that’s really important.

Stuart Crosthwaite:

We have regular catch ups. We have social events. We’ve been even thinking about services to our members around things like a medical service. So I don’t know too many corporates that would be focusing on a lot of the social stuff that a co-op can.

Pete Lewis:

As we have seen, and heard already in the series from other parts of Australia where that is precisely the case, where the co-operative is really a centre for a lot more than just farm production.

Pete Lewis:

Look, speaking of which, we are, as I said running a poll with tonight’s interview and the question we’re posing is, “As a farmer, who most influences your decision making in your farmer business?” Please, click on the poll in the live chat below and give us your answer. We’re really interested in as much feedback as we can get.

Pete Lewis:

Stuart, it’s fair to say the co-operatives often succeed or fail because of the sweat equity involved and you’ve indicated it’s a small but enthusiastic band at the moment. Can you give us a bit of a feel, talk about some of the key Mountain Milk players that you’ve assembled and got all pushing in the right direction?

Stuart Crosthwaite:

Yeah, there’s a long list. I think to start with, the farmers have been instrumental. The courage and the will and the ambition of them individually and then coming together collectively to form some sort of business, and now a co-op. That’s amazing really, when you think back and you look back in the rearview mirror and think, “Wow, there’s a lot of farmers that aren’t willing to have a go, but this group has.” As I said earlier, they’re really good farmers in their own right. So the farmers are probably number one.

Stuart Crosthwaite:

The next person closest behind that is our CEO Patten Bridge. He has been a big driving force. He does it in a quiet way, but he’s brought to the table a huge network of professionals and expertise to expose opportunities to the group and bring professional advice to the group. In the early days, the key motivation for getting the co-op up and going was a bunch of funding from the Farming Together program, which was basically a swot vac on getting going with a co-op. That really helped. That funding was really important. Patten himself has been really important in exposing us to people and ideas.

Stuart Crosthwaite:

We’ve had other key people along the way. We’ve got a financial guy, part of a large business in Albury Wodonga here that has been helping us. He attends every second or third board meeting and just provides a professional and a financial person around the table when we’re discussing business.

Stuart Crosthwaite:

There’s a whole array of professionals that have helped us outside. I won’t go into naming any names, but they’ve all been really important. The one thing that’s been really amazing to me is the family that encompasses the co-op sector. I don’t know if you could say that around the corporate sector. I’ve been really amazed how inviting and how supportive and how encouraging they are to really make sure that we succeed and we do well. You’ve got the BCCM and a New South Wales Co-ops with Sam Byrne and his group. They’ve been amazing. When we’ve been in doubt or trying to find a way forward, they’ve been really, really helpful. So yeah, they’re probably the main people.

Stuart Crosthwaite:

Oh, and the other two, the other probably main factor is, in the early days we were looking for a processor to join the party and we came across… Freedom Foods approached us to join us. They’ve been amazing. They’re a really nice alignment of values there as well. So they’re the main ones.

Pete Lewis:

Obviously 2020 you could not, in a million strategy sessions have plotted the way 2020 has unfolded. How has it been, and how has the strength of what you’re putting together there and all those insights and that experience and the advice that you’re getting, how has that helped you through what has obviously been uncharted territory for all of us?

Stuart Crosthwaite:

Yeah, it has. It’s been a pretty confronting two or three year period. It’s like being in a football game. We’ve been bounced around a little bit, but our plans have held up really well and we’ve remained on track. The virus threw a big curve ball to us, but we’ve got some other plans in play at the moment that are sending us in another direction, which is aligned with our strategic plan. So, as one aspect fails, another one presents itself. It’s a credit to everyone involved for the enthusiasm and the motivation for continuing and making sure we move forward and keep developing.

Pete Lewis:

We can see over your shoulder a very catchy logo. Crystal balling a little, five or 10 years down the track, where might we see that logo? What sort of products and things might that logo appear on, if all things go well?

Stuart Crosthwaite:

That’s a good question. I think we’ve certainly got ambitions to add value for everyone involved. So what form that takes, we’re reasonably agile about, but I think we’d love to not only have a better connection with our farming community, but the wider community. We live in a beautiful part of the world. It’s all mountainous, it’s beautiful and green for most of the year. There’s quite a parochial atmosphere in the community. So I think, we’d love to connect to our community via our product. We’re all really proud farmers. We love what we do. We care for our animals, our environment and our people. We’ve got a great opportunity here for our local dairy industry. What better way of connecting with everyone than via our product. Hopefully that also adds to growing jobs and opportunities on farm for people in the community.

Pete Lewis:

Well everybody tells us these days that you need a good back story, and we’ve certainly heard a tremendous back story. It’s all about the provenance of where your product comes from and the passion that you bring to it. Thank you so much for your time and your insights Stuart. We wish Mountain Milk all the very best going forward. It’s been really interesting learning about navigating and negotiating your way through this and you’ve certainly had some character building few years in the dairy game, and we appreciate you being prepared to share some of the insights and some of the hard lessons you’ve learned along the way.

Stuart Crosthwaite:

No worries. Thanks for having me, and the chat.

Melina Morrison:

I hope you enjoyed this episode, and you’re inspired to find out more about the fantastic benefits of cooperative farming, and how to realise the incredible potential for your business.

Mountain Milk’s story really does lead to the question what makes a co-op succeed and, like in the case of Murray Goulburn, what makes them fail. We did a deep dive into this issue in The Co-operative Conversations video series. Our panel of farming experts discussed the conditions that lead to both the rise and fall of co-operatives. You can watch this round table on demand by going to conversations.coopfarming.coop/

To listen to more great stories of farmers growing and succeeding together subscribe to our Co-operative Farming podcast series and don’t forget to rate us wherever you get your podcasts, as it will help others to find us. In our next podcast, we talk with Doriana Mangili, and the Sweeter Banana Co-Operative story.

Remember, in a challenging world, we are all “better together”.

I’m Melina Morrison, thanks for listening.

Key links

Subscribe to Meet the Co-op Farmers

Other Episodes

Episode 3: How Australia's largest grain exporter works
Farming can be a risky business, swinging from feast to famine, drought to flooding rains. But CBH, one of the biggest in the world, has managed high consistent results for its members for more than 85 years.
Episode 4: How a fishing co-op formed with friendship
A job offer at local football game led to Rodger Long helping to form one of the most innovative fishing co-operatives in the nation.
Episode 5: The farmer-owned berry company making $200 million a year
The biggest blueberry supplier in Australia formed out of a different fruit, with a reluctant leader from a completely different business. And it thrived.
SEE ALL PODCASTS