Farmer-owned agricultural co-operatives are celebrating National Agriculture Day today.

Across Australia, there are 229 agri-business co-operatives, 189 of which are involved in farming, fishing or forestry and 40 irrigation co-operatives. These are made up of around 24,000 individual agribusinesses.

They can be a family farm of thousands of hectares, a fisher with one or more vessels or an individual grower member. National Agriculture Day is the perfect opportunity to pause and recognise the vital contribution of Australia’s farmers, fishers and other agricultural producers who work together and support each other through co-operatives.

By the numbers:

  • Co-operatives handle and store 40 per cent of Australia’s grain
  • Package and export 40 per cent of the nation’s blueberries and process and market 60 per cent of our almonds
  • Process and export most of Australia’s Western Rock Lobster fishery
  • In dairy and meat processing, co-operatives represent the remaining Australian producer-owned firms

Australian agricultural co-ops are 100 per cent owned by Australian farmers. This means they work in the interest of farmers, rather than external shareholders. Co-operatives help to keep Australian farmers independent while improving their access to markets. Farmers in co-operatives can share supply costs, such as transport of goods. The business model also helps to support smaller farmers and fishermen to work together to compete with larger businesses.

Co-ops return profits to the farmers and give them a better deal at the farm gate. This helps those living off the land to preserve their way of life and to keep Australia’s regional communities strong. Australian co-ops are owned by Australians, support Australian food security and provide export income to local farmers, helping to contribute to the national economy.

You can learn more about the contribution of agricultural co-operatives and find out how the BCCM is supporting the start-up and growth of co-ops, at the Co-operative Farming website.

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