Farmers who like to flock together
IT SEEMS that of all farmers, sheep folk are the most flockable.
That’s according to the organisers of the national Farming Together campaign, a program being delivered by Southern Cross University which aims to encourage farmers, fishers and foresters to form collaborative groups.
They found that the nation’s sheep, lamb and wool producers were the nation’s keenest to form collaborations.
In its first 10 months, the program had interactions with 700 groups representing more than 16,000 farmers nationally.
It attracted more sheep, lamb and wool projects than any other commodity group.
A total of 23.2% of applications have come from the sector; sheep and lamb producers comprised 14% of total applications, wool producers 9.2%.
Beef, grain and horticulture producers were also keen to form collaborations.
The program attracted 21.1% of its applications from the beef sector, 19% from cropping projects and 17.8% of applications from vegetable, fruit and wine growers.
The Federal Government-supported program recently announced first-round funding of $4.5m to farmer groups.
In addition, it provided the groups with independent expert advice valued at $550,000.
Program director Lorraine Gordon said Farming Together had received applications from both large and small groups across the country.
“The large-scale commodity groups like sheep, beef and cropping predominated but we also had robust interest from smaller, emerging ag-commodities,” she said.
“We noted a strong interest among organic producers and locavore co-operatives as well as fish and seafood groups.
“There is clearly an appetite for collaborative models across the nation’s primary producers.
“Farming Together is exactly the right program at the right time and in the right place.”
Independent specialists are still available through the program at no cost and cover areas such as financial advice, contracts, co-op formation, marketing, packaging, logistics, food technology, data/IT and capacity building. Visit www.farmingtogether.com.au.
The two-year $13.8m pilot program is comprised of a highly experienced senior team drawn from a wide range of commodity groups from across Australia and is backed by an industry advisory group representing experts from Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales.