Farm­ers who like to flock to­gether

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - News -

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.

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