Coota Co-op interviews on ABC NSW Country Hour

Our recent Meet the Farmers Podcast guest, Leigh Bowden, from The Cootamundra District Co-op has been interviewed on NSW Country Hour twice in the past month:

Second outing for BCCM podcast on Australian agri co-ops

Renewed interest in farming co-operatives across Australia has led the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) to launch a second season of its successful podcast series Meet the Co-op Farmers.

Melina Morrison, CEO of the co-op apex body, said the interest in co-operative business models had continued to trend upward since the BCCM finished a previous two-year co-operative farming education programme, funded by the government.

Read the full article, Second outing for BCCM podcast on Australian agri co-ops, in Coop News, 17 November 2021.

Cootamundra Co-op interview on ABC Riverina

The BCCM is pleased to support the good people of Cootamundra working together to save local retail buying out the local Target store that shut down.

Co-op chair Leigh Bowden and her community are mounting a funding drive to secure the start-up capital they need. Co-op retail is making a comeback across Australia which means more of every dollar spent locally stays local.

Listen from 38:50 onwards

ABC Riverina Breakfast, 14 September 2021

Australian mango industry considers co-op options

The Australian Mango Industry Association (AMIA) is educating its members on co-operative business models.

The move comes as industry stakeholders look for new ways to unlock value.

“I’ve been speaking to a lot of growers out there that are very interested in forming their own co-operative, so we want to give them more tools to be able to do that,” said AMIA chief executive Brett Kelly.

“There’s opportunity and strength in numbers and synergy across the industry. At the moment we have independent operators and that’s good, but it also means they’re all competing with each other.

“As the representative body we want to point them in the right direction and say instead of all acting independently, why don’t you explore the opportunities around being a co-operative?”

Australia’s peak body for grower co-operatives, the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM), recently held a workshop for the AMIA board and management team.

“The BCCM is really pleased to work with AMIA to provide co-operative education to the mango industry,” said BCCM chief executive Melina Morrison. “It puts another option on the table for producers to boost farm gate returns.”

AMIA is planning to hold further workshops with members to explore options around co-operative models.

Kelly said there was huge potential in AMIA’s 100-plus member base to explore farming co-operatives.

“Co-operatives are really quite beneficial and there’s opportunity for members and growers to learn how a co-operative would work for them,” Kelly said.

Source: Produce Plus Magazine

Photo by Rajendra Biswal on Unsplash

Film strikes a chord with Aussies

Documentary review by Jim Parker

Sustainability isn’t just an issue for city-dwellers. Farmers around Australia are banding together to form new forms of co-operatives that preserve the benefits of the family farm in the face of growing corporatisation and value extraction.

Their story is told in a new documentary Fightback Farmers, which premiered at the State Theatre in Sydney, and is now available on ABC’s iview. The film is part of the Co-operative Farming project, supported by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, and managed by the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals.

The documentary focuses on three distinct communities. The first is a group of dairy farmers in Victoria’s alpine region left high and dry by the controversial 2016 collapse of the dairy processing company Devondale Murray Goulburn.

Disenchanted by short-termist, low-margin, corporatised dairy manufacturing, the farmers formed the Mountain Milk co-operative, a community-based group that emphasises animal care, environmental management and high quality product.

The second group in the film are a lobster fishermen’s co-op formed on South Australia’s Limestone Coast to fend off larger corporate approaches and to give local fishermen more export power in the face of Australia-China trade tensions.

The third co-op, TAFCO, were formed to support farmers displaced by the collapse of the old Victorian tobacco growing industry. These farmers, supporting each other, are now diversifying into new areas like winemaking, pasta and organic food.

What motivates each group is a respect for the environment, a connection to community and the search for a compromise between old, financially unsustainable single businesses and large corporations which extract rather than add value.

As a solution, the return to co-operative farming challenges accepted economic wisdom that the only way for Australian farming to survive was is to “get big or go home”. But, increasingly, this return to an old way of working together is seen as more in keeping with environmental sustainability and the preservation of communities.

The film has already touched a chord with Australians, who see the wider benefits of a reinvestment in social capital. Each weekend, hundreds of people from Melbourne are travelling to the ever-expanding Myrtleford Farmers Market, organised by TAFCO.

North east fightback farmers build dairy co-op for next generation

About five years ago, dairy farmers Stuart Crosthwaite and Teresa Hicks were stressed as the disintegration of Murray Goulburn Milk threatened their livelihood.

But looking back, the farmers said it was the beginning of a new, positive chapter, as it led to the birth of their new business, Mountain Milk Cooperative…

The story of Mountain Milk Cooperative and other farmers will be aired as part of a new ABC program, Fightback Farmers, on June 15 at 9.30pm.

Read the full article in The Land, 15 June 2021

Airdate: Fightback Farmers: Feeding Australia Together

A documentary special showcasing Australian co-operative farmers and fishers screens next week on ABC.

Fightback Farmers: Feeding Australia Together follows co-operative farmers and fishers as they face the triumphs and tragedies of trying to stay on the land and keep operating through trade disruptions, climate disasters and even complete industry restructuring.

Business council of Co-operatives and Mutuals CEO Melina Morrison said: “We are thrilled the public broadcaster is screening such an important and heart-warming documentary about co-operative farming. The ABC is committed to telling interesting stories about everyday Australians and we are expecting viewers to enjoy and appreciate Fightback Farmers: Feeding Australia Together.

Read the full article in TV Tonight, 11 June 2021

Limestone Coast Lobster fisherman Craig Reilly in new doco

Limestone Coast lobster fisherman, Craig ‘Slim’ Reilly, will feature in a new documentary on ABC, hitting Australia’s screens on June 15.

Fightback Farmers: Feeding Australia Together, follows the journey of Australian primary producers battling to save their businesses from disaster, featuring three innovative co-operatives supported by the Business council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) through the Co-operative Farming project.

Read the full article in the Coastal Leader, 8 June 2021

Melina Morrison on ABC’s NSW Country Hour

BCCM CEO, Melina Morrison was interviewed by Michael Condon today on ABC’s NSW Country Hour, where she talked about why the co-op model is a great model for farmers doing business.

Listen to the interview online on ABC’s NSW Country Hour

Why this farming model could help future-proof Australia’s farms

The co-operative farming model has proved itself to be the most resilient in the tough times that agriculture has faced, and farms across the country are reaping the benefits.

When the primary producers at Western Australia’s Sweeter Banana were setting up their banana co-operative, there was initial resistance, even arguments in the warehouse. But the proof is in the (banana) pudding. Business Manager Doriana Mangili is blunt: they wouldn’t have survived if they weren’t a co-operative.

They’ve dealt with increased competition, cyclones and geographic isolation, but Sweeter Banana has not only remained profitable, the co-operative has pioneered the lunchbox banana market and built a future for its farmers and community. All through sticking together and thinking differently.

Continue reading: Why this farming model could help future-proof Australia’s farms
The Land, 12 February 2021