Co-op Farming news: Empowering co-ops in agriculture

28 July 2023

In our latest episode of our Meet the Co-op Farmers podcast rural journalist Michael Cavanagh speaks to Kate Hage, Australian country manager for Syndex. Syndex helps agricultural co-ops enter the digital age with its cloud-based platform providing an investment management portal, a member communications and relations system, and a marketplace offering access to capital and liquidity options.Kate Hage Syndex

Listen to the latest episode of our Meet the Co-op Farmers podcast online or via Spotify or Apple PodcastsRead more about Kate Hage: Bridging the gap.

This month the establishment of the second NSW Parliamentary Friends of Co-operatives and Mutuals secured continued bipartisan political support for the sector. The group, co-chaired by Clayton Barr MP (far right), Gurmesh Singh MP (second from left) and Jenny Leong MP (second from right), provides a forum for MPs to meet with mutual and co-operative businesses and raises awareness of this robust and sustainable business model.

NSW Parliamentary Friends of Co-operatives and Mutuals

In June, we held our second BCCM National Agricultural Co-operatives Roundtable in Lismore, hosted by TNR Chartered Accountants. The roundtable discussed the need to reverse the trend of offshoring Australia’s food processing capabilities and the importance of Australian-owned agricultural supply chains to food security and the local economy.

The BCCM’s groundbreaking co-operative development fund, The Bunya Fund, included two agricultural co-ops – SuppHorticulture and ORICoop – in its recent round two funding.

The SuppHorticulture project involves the establishment of two inclusive co-operatives: SuppHorticulture, a worker co-op currently undergoing registration, and Caring Farms, a co-operative in planning for neuro-diverse participants. Together, they intend to transform the existing Veggie Empire into a vocational horticulture training provider for people with disabilities.

Seasonal food plants. Photo courtesy The Veggie Empire.

By transforming Veggie Empire into a dual co-op structure, the founders intend to ensure long-term engagement with NDIS-funded participants and volunteers for collective community benefit.

ORICoop, an organic and regenerative agricultural co-operative owned by farmers and the community, focuses on bolstering the organic grain sector through its ORCA (Organic and Regenerative Co-operative Australia) investment program. ORCA provides bespoke solutions for organic grain producers to capture strategic markets and build on-farm resilience across Southern Australia.

On-farm field day. Photo courtesy ORICoop.

ORICoop adopts risk mitigation strategies, upgrades processing systems, and advocates for nutrient-rich, low-carbon practices. The environmentally-aware initiative invests in localised organic food products, reducing food miles and decreasing the environmental footprint of food production and distribution.

The Bunya Fund round two funding additionally included three co-op housing projects and a community hotel project. The Bunya Fund is part of the BCCM’s work to support emerging co-operatives and mutuals to deliver positive social, economic, cultural and environmental impact. Meet all our round 2 recipients.

Co-op farming sector news

Pacific workers thrive in Casino

WA’s fertiliser reserves could shelter from short-term shortages affecting eastern states’ farmers (paywall)

Harvey Water to pump treated non-portable recycled water from Harvey Fresh to Harvey Dam under proposed plans (paywall)

CBH boss hints co-op could one day take rail operations ‘in-house’ but is happy with Aurizon for now

Terang Co-op CEO Kevin Ford to retire later this year (paywall)

SCU Occupational Therapy students partner with Norco on injury prevention analysis

Moulamein Grain Co-operative liquidation: Growers lose claim to 1300 tonnes of grain in legal fight (paywall)

BCCM in the news

Measuring the value of mutuality   

Overcoming the capital conundrum 

Amid economic uncertainty, “overlooked” co-ops and mutuals thrive 


BCCM has launched the final module of its Sustainability Strategy for Co-operatives and Mutuals, developed by sustainability strategist and educator Peter Watts. Tickets are still available for the upcoming Mutual mindset: An introduction to co-operatives and mutuals on 26 September 2023, 2 – 4 pm AEST. This course is suitable for anyone new to co-operatives and mutuals and those looking for a refresher and information on the sector.

We’re here to help

If you have questions or would like more information or support to planstart or run a co-op, please get in touch with the Co-operative Farming team.

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