The president of Cogeca – the representative body for of European agri-co-operatives – has met with a director of the United Nations to stress the multiple benefits of the business model and make the case for its development.
Thomas Magnusson met with Daniela Bas, director of social policy and development at the UN, to look at how to collaborate on a more supportive and positive environment for the development of co-operatives. They want to find ways to enhance their growth and sustainability.
At the meeting in New York, Mr Magnusson said: “At Cogeca, we represent 22, 000 co-operatives in the EU who have nearly seven million farmer members.
“They process and trade 40% of the total output of the EU agricultural sector, providing unique services and ensuring a better positioning for farmers in the food chain.”
Explaining the co-operative model, he said: “They are unique from other types of business as they are owned and controlled by their farmer members who can use the services to their benefit and who at the end of the year will get a share of the profits”.
Mr Magnusson welcomed the resolutions on co-operatives from the UN General Assembly, which he thinks will give momentum to the global co-operative movement.
“I look forward to keeping up this momentum and collaborating further with the UN to encourage the development of agri-co-operatives,” he said.
He was also pleased to see the UN’s recognition of the power of co-operatives to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Our members have a unique role to play in realising the SDGs,” he said. “Unlike any other economic sector, European farmers and their co-operatives play a vital role in providing food, as well delivering territorial, environmental and social objectives.”
Mr Magnusson said European agri-co-operatives are developing innovative products and in finding new ways to eliminate food losses and food waste all along the supply chain.
“They offer infrastructures, for instance, to smallholder farmers to help minimise post-harvest losses and engage in innovative recycling, reuse, by-product synergies, and renewable energy projects,” he added.
“I need to stress that a competitive farming sector and viable rural areas play an essential role in delivering environmental, economic and social sustainability.”
Mr Magnusson is a farmer, and together with his son, runs a mixed dairy and forestry family farm around the town of Växjö in South-Central Sweden. He is currently a member of the Board of the Lantmännen co-operative group and delivers his milk to dairy co-op Arla.