Farmers’ co-ops get government funding to encourage co-operation in Scottish agriculture

Two projects promoting and encouraging co-operation in Scottish agriculture will receive a government cash boost.

The schemes will be funded through the SRDP Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund, which was created to improve the country’s agricultural sector, and will get £346,000.

The initial four-year programme of work will be delivered by the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS), the agricultural and supply chain development co-op.

“We warmly welcome the Scottish government’s acknowledgement both of the unique role of co-ops as self-help groups of farmers and the potential for new forms of co-operation to access markets,” said James Graham, chief executive of SAOS.

“The support is critical at a time of such uncertainty and volatility in which the need for new solutions and added value markets is in sharp focus.”

James Graham
James Graham, chief executive of SAOS

Established in 1905, SAOS is owned by around 60 member co-ops and specialises in the joint venture among farmers, growers and rural businesses, also within food and drink supply chains.

The projects aim to improve the competitiveness of Scottish agriculture by facilitating knowledge exchange, continuous professional development and providing specialist advice for farmers considering new ways to co-operate and collaborate.

Mr Graham added: “Working and trading collectively involves participants sharing objectives, investment and risks, as well as agreeing the rules for working together and decision making.

“The principles and governance arrangements for co-ops are quite different to more conventional business models. Expert and experienced advisors have been shown to be important in ensuring that any collaboration is successful.”

Cabinet secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Promoting co-operation and innovation can make a real difference to improving productivity, profitability and resilience within our farming businesses.

“Farmers’ co-ops are particularly well placed to take advantage of economies of scale, share best practice and are at the forefront of implementing innovative techniques and processes that drive the rural economy.”