Southern Cross University will lead the $13.8 million Farm Co-operatives and Collaboration Pilot Program, announced today by Barnaby Joyce, the Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources and the federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan.
The Pilot Program will be delivered across the country, providing farmers with knowledge and skills to boost their return at the farm gate.
“This national pilot program is all about enabling farmers to come together, whether in co-operatives or less formal collaborations, and work to improve farm gate returns,” Minister Joyce said.
“Agricultural co-operatives allow farmers to own and control more of the food supply chain themselves—giving them greater bargaining power when it comes to negotiating with buyers of their produce."
Minister Joyce said Southern Cross University was perfectly positioned to deliver the cooperatives pilot program nationally because of the experience, expertise and links built up over recent years through its partnership with the Northern Rivers Cooperatives Alliance and Regional Development Australia-Northern Rivers.
Southern Cross University Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Lee welcomed the announcement.
“We are delighted to be chosen to lead this important national program, which has the potential to transform regional Australia,” Professor Lee said.
“We have a strong track record in the two core elements of this program — agriculture and collaboration. Our research in the areas of agricultural and veterinary sciences, crop and pasture production and forestry sciences was rated at ‘well above world standard’ in the latest Excellence in Research for Australia national report.
“We have worked in partnership with industry, business and government stakeholders in the delivery of a wide range of projects from developing sustainable aquaculture operations to the development of new crop varieties.”
Professor Lee said the University’s expertise, combined with the University’s focus on collaboration, were key to the approach that will be taken in delivering the project.
“We will establish a national knowledge network of individuals and groups that are focused on supporting the collaborative approaches to agriculture and we will be working with farmers right across the country,” he said.