Australian government allocates funding to develop agri co-ops

The government plans to grow the agriculture sector to a $100bn sector by 2030

Australia’s Business Council for Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) will receive AU $2.5m from the government to help farmers, fisheries and foresters establish farm co-operatives and other collaborative business models.

A further $500,000 (£258,000) will go to Southern Cross University to help support the sector.

Agriculture minister Bridget McKenzie said co-operative and mutual businesses had a key role play in the government’s ambitions to grow the agriculture sector to a $100bn (£51.65bn) sector by 2030.

“In agriculture, co-operatives and other collaborative business arrangements can help give more control back to farmers, giving them a greater stake and say in the food supply chain, while lowering costs and improving production efficiencies.”

The minister pointed out that thirteen of the top 100 co-operative and mutual enterprises in 2017-18 were in agribusiness and fisheries, with a combined turnover of $6.6bn (£3.41bn). She highlighted the role played by co-ops in giving farmers more bargaining power.

“This funding, with its roots in the 2015 Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper delivered by our government, will provide financial support to farmers to establish new co-operatives, as well help fund training courses and an advisory hotline in relation to farm cooperative business models.

“It will also deliver information sessions, workshops and other events relating to farm co-operative business models, plus an accreditation framework for educational providers for recognition of farmers’ prior learning relating to farm cooperative business models,” added the minister.

Melina Morrison, CEO of the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) said: “We are delighted to see the government backing this home-grown model of co-operative enterprise.

“This funding continues the government’s longstanding commitment to the sector and will support more Australian agricultural producers to work together and get a greater reward for their effort.”

She added: “Co-operative and mutual models of business promote sustainable growth in rural and regional communities – they are Australian businesses that share the wealth with their communities when times are good and stick with them and support their members when times are tough.

“There are a number of great Australian farmer co-operatives that have been supporting regional communities for many years. This support will help to spread the word and provide the knowledge and tools to grow new co-operatives and support regional Australia into the future.”