Govt Pilots Multi-Million Dollar Farmer Co-Op Program
20 April 2016 at 10:38 am
The peak body for cooperatives and mutuals has welcomed the federal government’s $14 million “game-changing” education pilot to boost agricultural cooperation.
The program is aimed at improving farmers’ access to information on setting up and running cooperative businesses.
The Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) CEO Melina Morrison said the funding announcement was an important step in “closing the knowledge gap for producers who want to use this established and successful model of business”.
“Co-operatives help farmers compete in global markets and improve returns to the farmgate. Where family farming is under threat co-operatives can provide a way for smaller producers to unite to gain access to markets that favour larger players,” Morrison said.
“Agricultural co-ops cut out the middle guy so all the benefits flow back to the producers. This improves the level of reinvestment on the farm and strengthens the local economy since profits don’t leak out of the region.”
She said the Farm Co-operatives and Collaboration Pilot Program was an unprecedented commitment of funding to level the playing field in terms of access to advice and education on innovative business models.
“The recent Senate inquiry into co-operative, mutual and member-owned firms recommended improving the provision of education and training on co-operatives and called on the government to encourage the establishment of new co-operatives. This program addresses those recommendations in a highly practical way,” she said.
Southern Cross University will deliver the program, including expert advice and information, to up to 2,000 farmers and 100 farmer groups across Australia.
“We will establish a national knowledge network of individuals and groups that are focused on supporting the collaborative approaches to agriculture, and we will be working with farmers right across the country,” Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Lee said.
The pilot program will run until June 2018.