Grower group eyes co-operative

Tayler NealeAlbany Advertiser

Grower-led organisation Stirlings to Coast Farmers will explore the merit in forming an agricultural co-operative with grower groups throughout the Great Southern after receiving more than $600,000 in Government funding.

SCF will work with other farming groups in the region to quantify the supply threshold required to form a successful co-operative.

With nearly $500,000 coming from the State Government under the Grower Group R&D Grants Program and $140,000 from the Federal Government, SCF chairman Derek Curwen said the funding would allow the investigation to begin.

“This new funding will help SCF explore new value-add and marketing options for our members,” he said.

“We know we are not the lowest-cost producer in competitive export markets so we need to focus on quality and differentiating or adding value to our commodities if we are to remain in the longer term.

“To achieve this, we need to collaborate to achieve the benefits of scale and develop new high-value premium markets.”

Minister for Agriculture and Food Alannah MacTiernan said the project would improve competitiveness.

“These are innovative industry-driven projects aimed at boosting long-term agricultural productivity and increasing our international competitiveness,” she said.

“In the south, grower groups and their research partners will examine the establishment of a new farmer-owned grain processing co-operative in the Great Southern, with the capacity to process grain and open up new higher-value markets.”

SCF chief executive Christine Kershaw said the project would benefit members. “We see this as an opportunity to help our members, through co-operation, to have the option of investing further down the value chain and creating more selling options for themselves,” she said.

“We can’t expect Government to fix our farm profitability challenges.

“Forming a co-operative gives us more options for growth and scale than just going back to the bank and getting another bigger loan for a bigger machine or more land.”

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