Co-operatives UK announces new programme for agricultural co-operatives

Co-operatives UK, the trade body for Britain’s thousands of co-operative businesses, is to launch a new membership package for agricultural co-operatives at the Oxford Farming Conference this week.

The package has been designed following consultation with some of the UK’s leading farmer owned businesses and builds on the specialist advice services that Co-operatives UK provides to agricultural co-operatives large and small.

The agricultural package offers a range of specialist services for farmer owned businesses across the whole of the UK:
• Tailored support, with a focus on ensuring that agricultural co-operatives have the right skills, processes and policies in place for governing large, successful businesses
• A national voice to lobby government and key industry bodies, together, on key issues facing farmer owned businesses
• Access to a unique network of agricultural co-operatives, through which members can share ideas, best practice and innovations

Data, published in a new report, shows that the agricultural co-operative sector is the second largest segment of the UK’s co-operative sector. There are 621 farmer co-operatives listed in the UK with approximately half of the country’s farmers – some 155,000 – members of these farmer-owned businesses. Together their combined turnover is £6.2 billion.

The UK’s largest agricultural co-operatives by turnover include Openfield Group, Fane Valley and Arla UK and the model is prevalent throughout the industry, with particular strengths in agricultural supply, dairy, horticulture and crops.

Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, said:

“From joint marketing to collective purchasing, agricultural co-operatives are supporting farm businesses across the country by delivering significant benefits and cost savings to their members.

“The industry as a whole is going through turbulent times. Our new package addresses the particular needs of the UK’s agricultural co-operatives, from specialist governance and membership advice to lobbying on legislation that makes it as easy to run an agricultural co-operative as any other business.”

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