The Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) has launched a survey of farmers to offer them a voice in “future co-operative processes” as it looks to drive sustainable agricultural practices.
The research is funded by the Golden Jubilee Trust, a philanthropic organisation whose objective is to improve and develop Irish agricultural and rural life.
ICOS represents around 130 co-ops including farms, dairy processors and livestock marts and has over 150,000 individual members; its co-ops have a combined turnover of €14bn and employ more than 12,000 people.
It wants farmers from all sectors and all farm sizes to take part in the survey, which follows a recent gathering of co-operative industry leaders and environmental experts at a national bioeconomy workshop organised by ICOS. This discussed progress already being achieved by the industry and the potential to accelerate this.
From that meeting, ICOS says it is establishing a ‘co-operative framework’ for Irish co-operatives to share information and best practice on sustainability and the bioeconomy. The results of the survey will be combined with the recommendations of the national bioeconomy workshop and the co-operative framework. ICOS says this will drive strategy, with a series of measures to be delivered from this year onwards.
“It’s essential for us to hear directly from farmers in every community across Ireland so that their views can be included in our future co-operative processes aimed at ensuring the sustainability of Irish agriculture now and for the future,” said ICOS bioeconomy executive John Brosnan.
“This forms part of our larger research programme into farmer attitudes and intentions on sustainability measures and the bioeconomy generally which has been supported by the Golden Jubilee Trust.
“Implementing projects centred around bioeconomy principles will allow for greater value to be unlocked from the food, feed, fibres, chemicals, fuels and energy that we can derive from our land, crops and natural resources. What was once considered a ‘waste’ is now a valuable by-product or co-product.
“By moving towards new business models, the ‘win-win’ of helping climate, biodiversity and water quality can be coupled with greater economic return and sustainability for farmers and agriculture in general.”