Faced with corporate ag’s deep pockets and the resulting efficiencies and economies of scale, it’s difficult for small-scale agribusinesses to compete, let alone gain market advantage.
To do so, you need to have the means to: conduct farm operations in the most timely and efficient way, implement cost-saving upgrades; value-add where possible; control your supply chain; brand, package and market your products effectively; be able to service large contracts reliably; and manage risk effectively.
Such challenges can be made less daunting and more cost-effective by joining forces with fellow famers and supply-chain stakeholders. In this way, you can pool knowledge, funds, manpower, equipment, suppliers and markets as needed for participants’ mutual benefit, while remaining separate entities.
Farm Cooperatives and Collaborations Pilot Programme
The Australian Government-backed Farm Cooperatives and Collaborations Pilot Programme aims to help farmers across the country “to own and control more of the food supply chain themselves, delivering greater returns at the farm gate”.
The goal of the two-year pilot program, which launched in April 2016 and is being delivered by Queensland’s Southern Cross University, is to “arm farmers with knowledge and resources on different collaborative arrangements that can work for their business”.
The national program includes:
- the establishment of: an online information resource focusing on “best-practice collaboration” for farmers and farm advisors;
- experts on collaboration available for farmers to bounce their ideas off; and
- the provision of funds to farmer groups to enable them to “get their collaboration ideas off the ground”.
What is collaboration?
Collaboration, including agricultural co-operatives, enables farmers to own and control more of the food supply chain themselves—giving them more clout in negotiations with buyers and potential buyers, including those in export markets.
Successful ag collaborations
There are plenty of examples of successful collaborations across Australia; they include:
- Australian Mango Industry Association
- Citrus Direct Pty Ltd
- Dairy Australia
- Geraldton Fishermen's Co-operative Ltd
- Goulburn Valley Food Co-operative
- Northern Co-operative Meat Company Ltd
- Oz Group Co-op Ltd
For further information about the Farm Co-operatives and Collaboration Pilot Programme, how you can get involved, and the many potential benefits for participants, visit the Farming Together website.
Or contact Farming Together directly on 1800 00 5555 (toll-free, within Australia) or firstname.lastname@example.org.