The new fund, of up to £10 million, was announced by farming minister George Eustice on Friday (16 February 2018). The fund will be co-designed with farmer co-ops and industry bodies including Co-operatives UK. It is intended to support new forms of farmer co-operation, as well as the development of existing co-ops.
Alongside our farmer members we held extensive talks with Defra officials and ministers to ensure understanding was in place around how forming co-operatives helps farmers invest in new technology, achieve economies of scale, mitigate market volatility and earn a fairer price for their produce.
We want to see this fund being used to develop the scope, scale and impact of farmer co-operation, so that when it comes to innovation, sustainability, resilience and commercial savvy, British farmers can lead the world.
Co-operatives UK members who played a major role in discussions with Defra officials and ministers include: Anglia Farmers; Arla Food UK; Berry Garden Growers; British Growers Association; Camgrain; English Mustard Growers; First Milk; Fram Farmers; G's Growers; Meadow Quality; SAOS; The Green Pea Company; and Woldmarsh.
Too often in the past, farmers have ended up being price takers and there have been too many instances where a lack of transparency in prices and charges by some processors has undermined the market. If we want a successful farming industry in the future then it is essential that we have properly functioning markets and that farmers receive a fair share of the value of the food they produce.
The next step will see Co-operatives UK and other industry bodies working with Defra to shape how the fund will operate.