National attention drives local business

19 July 2021

The documentary that’s educating more Australians about a little-known business model in Victoria’s Myrtleford and Alpine regions is driving more business to the area.

Fightback Farmers, which premiered on the ABC last month, is continuing to spur interest from people outside the region or community members who are keen to be part of the co-operative movement.

TAFCO and Mountain Milk, local stars of the documentary funded through the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutual’s $2.5 million Co-operative Farming program, held a local screening of the show on July 15.

Lachlan Campbell, chairman of TAFCO – a co-operative rural supply store – said the premiere was a success despite Victoria’s latest lockdown kicking in that night.

“After the documentary initially aired, we had people who travelled up from Melbourne and other regions for our Myrtleford Farmers Market to spend the weekend here,” he said.

“We’ve also had people asking how they can get Mountain Milk. While plans are afoot for developing a local processing facility and we’re not at that level in supplying it from that co-op yet, we know people want to support and buy local.

“We’re seeing that more and more. One of the positives out of COVID is that people really value buying local and supporting regional small businesses. There are certain groups in the community who have always been doing that, but the movement is definitely growing, you can feel it.”

Matthew Beasley, a facilitator for the Australian Government’s Entrepreneurs’ Programme in the Alpine Shire, was in Myrtleford for the premiere.

Mr Beasley has been working with co-operatives such as TAFCO and is also working with local agriculture businesses such as Alpine Blueberries through the government’s bushfire recovery program.

“In the area there are other agricultural businesses that have considered whether a co-op is a viable option for them but aren’t convinced,” he said.

“The documentary is really helping educate people on what a co-op is and why this business model could be valuable to regions like ours, particularly in the agriculture industry.”

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