Cooperative farmers in NSW have opened their doors to farmers in other parts the country, after it emerged that they could be using their organic produce as a revenue stream.
The cooperative farmers’ group, the Coopers Craft, said it was ready to open up its operation to all other farmers across NSW and to expand its operations to other areas.
Cooperatives Craft managing director Ian Coopers said the group would be open to other farmers, particularly those who have had success growing organic produce.
“The cooperative group will have a strong presence across the country and the local community, and we’ve had positive responses from other growers who are looking to become members of our cooperative,” he said.
Mr Coopers and his wife, Lisa, are members of the Cooperatives Guild, a group of organic growers who work together on a cooperative basis.
They are also the co-owners of the Cairns Organic Farm Cooperative, which has a strong organic reputation in NSW, and is looking to grow its organic produce into a sustainable business model.
He said the Coopers Craft would be looking to expand and become more open to local farmers and the community.
“It’s very much an extension of our business model of growing organic food,” he told ABC News.
In January, the NSW government announced it was looking at ways to expand cooperative agriculture into other parts and territories, including Queensland.
It said the move would allow the industry to thrive across a range of different regions and economies.
But, Mr Coopers, said his group would not be seeking any funding from the state.
“The state doesn’t have the resources to run an organic farming business,” he explained.
We would be doing it by our own means, and our members wouldn’t be able to use any taxpayer funding to fund us.
“Cooperations Craft is based in Cairn, north-west of Sydney.
As well as the Copps craft and the Cairs Craft, other Coopers craft members include Mr Copps, his wife and son.
Cairn has been a farming hub for over 150 years and has been named one of the most environmentally-friendly cities in the world.
Farmers’ cooperatives are typically self-sufficient, but Mr Coeters said they were growing organic to make ends meet.”
We’re making a very small profit,” he joked.
Despite the success of their cooperative ventures, Mr Cooper said they would continue to grow their operations.”
I don’t think the organic market is in the best shape, it’s been in bad shape for a long time,” he noted.
For Mr Cooper, the decision to open his Coopers crafts to farmers came as a bit of a surprise.
Although he had not considered the idea of opening up his cooperative, he said it would not have been difficult to make the decision.
While organic food producers and processors had not been allowed to open a cooperative before, they were allowed to start their own operations in 2017.
With the establishment of a cooperative, organic farmers could have more control over their product and the products that they sell, Mr COOPER said.”
They can control what they are selling, which is usually their own product,” he added.”
And I think it’s great, it will open up that market.
“He added that they had already been receiving feedback from farmers, who were keen to start growing their own organic produce in their own way.”
A lot of farmers have told us that it’s helped them make a lot of money, they’ve made money from selling their own products,” he revealed.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) said farmers could apply to become cooperative members by filling in a questionnaire.
If the applicant has already been a member, they can apply again in 2019.
According to the DAWR, cooperative members will receive a monthly dividend of $1,500 and can claim up to $200 per month towards their farming costs.
All members are encouraged to sign up for a membership to be notified of the upcoming open house, which will be held at the Cooppers Craft farm in Coopers Creek on February 11.