Australian farmers’ body calls for more education on co-ops

BCCM CEO Melina Morrison says the government should consider the recommendations to help farmers mitigate against risk

A new study by Australia’s National Farmer’s Federation (NFF) recommends increasing education in the agricultural sector about the use of co-operative and mutual models.

The report focuses on six topics, including mutuals and co-ops, with research, analysis and recommendations provided by a team of experts.

Funded by the New South Wales government and drawing on support and advice from the national Business Council for Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM), the report makes a number of recommendations – including national government policies to support new industry-led training and formal education programmes about co-ops and mutuals for the farming community, its advisors and its financiers.

It also calls on the government to establish a favourable regulatory framework for co-op and mutual enterprises (CMEs) to protect their mutual status and ensure equal recognition and treatment with other businesses.

The recommendations follow results from a survey taken during the study, which found a lack of awareness among Australian farmers about the significant benefits to members of co-operatives and mutuals.

The report draws on research by the BCCM, including its report Co-operative Farming: Blueprint for Future Proofing Aussie Farmers.

BCCM CEO Melina Morrison said: “We are pleased that the study has recognised the key role mutuals and co-operative structures have played in most agricultural segments to help farmers manage risk globally, and that further uptake of co-ops and mutuals would be beneficial to farmers to mitigate risk.

“It is vital that the government considers the recommendations in the report for fiscal and regulatory measures to foster the establishment of co-ops and mutuals.”

NFF CEO Tony Mahar said: “The results have been illuminating and will be integral to developing programmes and policies that can help farmers adopt risk management tools with the aim of becoming more resilient farm businesses.”