Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan and Senator Bridget McKenzie last week met with the $13.8 million Farm Co-Operatives Centre of Excellence at Southern Cross University to discuss its latest successful project.
Senator McKenzie is the Chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Co-Operatives.
“The Centre has proved itself to be a great success. It has already helped many thousands of farmers and farmer groups,” Mr Hogan said.
“At the start of last month, the Centre launched the world’s first online DYI co-op builder that has resulted in more than 60 new agri-focused co-operatives in the last six weeks.
“In June, it announced about $4 million of projects to help strengthen the co-operative sector across Australia. This included a matched $175,000 grant to the Casino Meatworks to create a new division help local farmers and $34,820 to Northern Rivers-based Better Profits for Beef to help local beef producers.
“When I was appointed to lead a taskforce on developing a program to strengthen the country’s co-operatives, our local co-ops approached me with an idea that I thought should be expanded into a new Centre of Excellence at Southern Cross University.
“Only about one year after the centre was established, it was already proven to be of great benefit to farmers wanting to increase their farmgate prices.”
The Centre’s notable milestones are:
- Establishment of www.farmingtogether.com.au website to assist farmers and potential co-operatives
- 709 farmer groups (representing 16,000 farmers) and farmers have accessed information and engaged in an online self-assessment process
- More than 7000 farmers and interested parties receiving monthly e-newsletter
- 250 farmer groups received expert advice and support from independent panel of experts
- 66 applications for funding under Round 1 of the Farmer Group Projects. (About $4 million in successful project announced in June)
- Round 2 applications for Farmer Group Projects expect to open mid-2017
The new co-op builder was developed in conjunction with Australia’s peak body for co-ops, the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM), the online tool has been written by some of the country’s leading experts in co-op law and education.
The free template is available from the Farming Togetherwebsite (www.farmingtogether.com.au) and it
* Makes it easier to put together the key paperwork you need to register as a co-op
* Helps plug the information and resources gap for farmers and the experts advising them
* Shows how to write a compliant constitution (the rules for how the business operates) and disclosure statement (how it will put the money together from its member investors)
* Links to other industry resources.