ARCHIVE: Co-operation and collaboration for sustainable farming and food
The Strategy for Sustainable Farming and Food notes that many primary producers need to offer the scale and continuity of supply sought by their customers, gain efficiencies of scale and introduce more professional approaches to their businesses in order for them to become more competitive. Working together provides a way of achieving this. Many farmers and growers are of course already members of co-operatives or other groupings, however, far fewer are members of co-operatives here than in many competitor nations.
In order to support the growth of collaborative activity we have, among other things:
supported the establishment of English Farming and Food Partnerships (EFFP) (see below) and provided grant funding for its key activities;
made projects which seek to strengthen or expand collaborative activity among primary producers a priority under the current Agricultural Development Scheme. Several awards have already been made.
made grants available under ERDP schemes for collaborative projects.
funded research into possible legislative and fiscal barriers to the development of agricultural co-operatives (see below), and
funded a conference for Farmer Controlled Businesses and Co-operatives on the issue of financial risk management.
English Farming and Food Partnerships
Sir Don Curry's Policy Commission Report highlighted the potential for collaborative activity for all farmers large and small. The report recommended the establishment of a new industry body, dedicated to encouraging and supporting collaborative activity in England. As a result, English Farming & Food Partnerships (EFFP) was formed in April 2003. EFFP is a private organisation whose mission is to strengthen the profitability, competitiveness and sustainability of England's farming, food and related farm based industries. It aims to achieve this through the growth of market focused and professionally run farmer controlled businesses (FCB's) and by developing cooperation and partnership activities not only between farmers but also between farmers and the rest of the food chain. In short, EFFP's aim is to help farmers both create, and then capture, more value from the farming and food supply chain.
Legislative and fiscal barriers to greater co-operation and collaboration
The Strategy for Sustainable Farming and Food points out that there are potential legislative and fiscal obstacles to the development of co-operatives and collaborative activity in the farming and food sectors. In order to explore this, we commissioned and funded research into the subject, undertaken by EFFP. The report of the research makes a number of recommendations for change which we are discussing with other government departments including H M Treasury and H M Revenue & Customs, as well as the Financial Services Authority.
A copy of the report, including a full list of the recommendations, is available on the EFFP website. Alternatively, it can be obtained in hard copy format by contacting David Oglethorpe at EFFP on 020 7213 0435 / 4030, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Page published: 12 August 2005