A survey undertaken by pressure group Love Co-operative Farms has shown that support for continuing the co-operative ownership of the Co-operative Group’s farming business is as high as 99%.
More than a thousand people, 80% of whom were members of the Group, responded to the Love Co-operative Farms survey. Some 99% wished to see the farms remain in co-operative ownership, and 80% said that they would be willing to be financially involved, offering sums of between £50 and £10,000.
Callum Johnston of Love Co-operative Farms, which is seeking mutual solutions for the business, explains: “When it became apparent that the sale of Co-operative Farms was inevitable, many people expressed concern that co-operative and community groups should be given a fair opportunity to bid for the farms in whole or in part. In March, a small group of co-operators started a survey called Love Co-operative Farms to see if people might be willing to take part in a co-operative bid.”
Comments from respondents included expressions of sadness and anger about the sale, concern that the farms should be run on organically and sustainably and a desire to enable young people to enter the industry.
Mr Johnson said there was a strong belief in community ownership and in meeting co-operative values and principles, and a wish to know how a co-operative bid would work in practice.
Co-operative Farms, which owns seven farms and a packhouse and manages a further eight farms and two packhouses, was for sale as a complete package for a reported £200m, but the Group is now considering bids for its separate elements.