"Farmers and co-ops go hand in hand" writes Richard O'Leary, IYC 2012 Director and CEO of Macleay Regional Co-operative Ltd (85 on Australia's Top 100 list of co-operative, mutuals and credit unions).
It is interesting that 2012 has been chosen as the Year of the Farmer, it is also the UN Year of Co-operatives. Both groups have seized the opportunity given by the Australian Government and the United Nations to showcase their respective organisation, their members and enormous community values.
Farmers and Co-operatives go hand in hand; the late 1880's saw farmers forming supply, processing & marketing co-operatives to protect their farming business, their communities and families. Today farmers, use their owned Co-operatives such as Co-operative Bulk Handling Ltd [Australia's biggest Co-operative, revenue $2.63 billion, 10/11 year], Murray Goulburn Co-operative Limited [second biggest, $2.24 billion, 10/11], Dairy Farmers Milk Co-operative [7th biggest, $.456 million, 10/11 year], Norco Co-operative [10th biggest, $.345million, 10/11 year], Namoi Cotton [11th biggest, $.322 million 10/11 year], Geraldton Fisherman's Co-op [21st biggest $145 million], NSW Sugar Milling Co-op [23rd biggest, $131 million, 10/11 year].
The farmers year will celebrate the hard work that the 136,000 farming households across Australia give to the Australian economy; $405 billion each year to GDP, that is a 27% contribution. A snapshot of the Mid North Coast of NSW [MNC] shows the importance of agriculture even in the coastal region .The total output for the MNC was $20.237 billion. Agriculture was $1 billion of this. MNC regional exports were $4.304 billion; agriculture was $450 million of this. On the MNC, agriculture employed 4.74% of the workforce.
Both organisations, Co-operatives and Farmers Groups have put considerable planning into the year. They have had Australian Mint 2012 $1 Commemorate Coins minted as collector coin packages. Co-operatives have also have a 2012 commemorative pre-stamp envelope and stamp sheets issued by Australia Post.
The NSW Farmers members at their last AGM moved a motion that gave support to Co-operatives and reinforced the long history of the vital partnership between farmers and Co-operatives and their members. Both groups have many events planned, these events build on the strong community connections, values and continuing education about their respective exposure to regional, national and international worth.
Director IYC Secretariat 2012 Limited
Member of The Devon Society, NSW Farmers & many Co-operatives including Macleay Regional Co-operative Ltd