ABC documentary celebrates Australia’s co-op farmers

08 June 2021

An innovative new documentary celebrating and showcasing Australian co-operative farmers and fishers is set to hit TV screens soon.

Fightback Farmers: Feeding Australia Together follows the fascinating journey of Aussie primary producers as they battle to save their businesses from the brink of disaster.

The ABC documentary features three innovative co-operatives who have been supported by the Business council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) through the Co-operative Farming project. These inspirational co-operatives are using a new and successful take on an old way of working collaboratively, in order to save their farms.

BCCM 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.

“At a time of unprecedented upheaval, Fightback Farmers is the story we need to hear about communities and families who keep striving to overcome adversity, and demonstrates why the co-op model is the right fit for these farmers.”

Screening on the ABC on June 15, 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. Long cherished as the backbone of a nation, family farms and co-operatives are also the heart of local communities and it is important to tell their stories.

“We’re a bunch of farmers one day, and the next we’re all coming together to form a co-op,” says dairy farmer Stuart Crosthwaite in the documentary, discussing how the co-operative farming model saved them after the collapse of dairy giant, Murray Goulburn.

Crosthwaite is joined by fellow dairy farmers Teresa Hicks and Scott Mackillop, winemaker Fred Pizzini, pasta maker Silvana Micheli and lobster fisherman Craig ‘Slim’ Reilly in revealing their fascinating co-operative journeys. There are also interviews with TAFCO’s Tony Vaccaro and Lachlan Campbell, who talk about having to completely reinvent their businesses after the tobacco industry suddenly closed.

Executive Producer Steve Bibb, from Barking Mad Productions, said: “I’ve long admired the Australian families who dedicate their lives to living on the land – farming, feeding and clothing our nation – generation after generation. As a city boy, I also know that most of us don’t appreciate what is actually happening, that small family farms are disappearing. It begs the question: why?

“In Fightback Farmers, I wanted to meet some of these small farming families – the great characters – who are going back to the future. These farmers and fishers are turning back the clock in a new take on an old away of working together. As we discover, they’re trying to stand strong in the face of adversity for their farms, the future generations, their local communities and a way of life.”

Fightback Farmers: Feeding Australia Together was funded with the assistance of the Co-operative Farming project supported by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment through funding from the Australian Government’s Starting Farm Co-operatives Program.

Watch on ABC – June 15 9.30pm AEST

ABC iview immediately afterwards

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