National Agriculture Day – celebrate the contribution co-operative farmers make to the economy
20 November 2020
On National Agriculture Day, the Business Council for Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) acknowledges the huge contribution that the 24,000 family farm co-operative farmers make to the Australian economy.
There are 229 agricultural co-operatives in Australia and the business model has proved itself to be the most resilient in tough times the agriculture has faced: drought, floods, fires, global trade issues and the pandemic. Because of their co-operative structure, these farmers are confident of a more positive future for their businesses. By working collaboratively, they do better together.
BCCM’s new program to promote farmers collaborating more has seen a surge in demand for information. The program aimed at futureproofing farms and keeping them in Australian hands has seen increased inquiries about starting new businesses.
The co-operative business model has been identified as the model that farmers can use to respond to crisis and BCCM is currently seeing high demand for people wanting to set up co-operatives.
“In the middle of a pandemic, after years of really tough farming conditions, we are still fielding inquiries from farmers wanting to start businesses. In fact, we’ve fielded 80 calls in the last couple of months from farmers wanting to set up a co-op,” said BCCM CEO Melina Morrison.
“Co-operatives are actually a collaborative response to market failure in a crisis. Even in a pandemic, or perhaps even more in a pandemic, you will see people trying to look at ways to co-operate to get themselves out of a sticky place. When you’re in a sticky place and you’re trying to work out how to reduce your supply costs, find new export markets, pivot your business or get more money back to the farm-gate, a co-op is a tried and tested model. Farming has had the worst few years in decades where the last thing they have been thinking about doing is setting up a business and yet farmers have been doing exactly that.”
A new blueprint by BCCM sets out why co-operatives help farmers do better, as well as advising policy makers why it makes sense to invest in co-operatives in agriculture.
Learn more about the contribution of agricultural co-operatives and find out how the BCCM is supporting the start-up and growth of co-ops, at the Co-operative Farming website.