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About the Program

The Facts

2000

The number of farmers we aim to
support within 2 years of the
Program’s Pilot phase.

Program started on

29/08/2016

Program will end on

30/06/2018

Who is eligible?

Primary producer groups who want to develop a collaborative project to improve farm gate returns.

Find out more about >> How Farming Together Works.

About the program

Farming Together (Farm Co-operatives and Collaboration Pilot Program) – is a $14,934,000 Federal Government initiative that aims to provide farmers with knowledge, skills and materials on collaborative ideas, co-operative structures and collective strategies.

Farming Together aims to:

    • Improve knowledge of how co-operatives, collective bargaining and supply chain negotiations can improve farmers’ returns.
    • Improve the knowledge of options available to farmers and farm advisors regarding such innovative business models including various forms of collaboration
    • Improve the agriculture focused legal and financial expert advice available regarding the process, implementation and management of such business models

To be eligible for the program, you must be a primary producer, or be part of a group of primary producers.

Funding is available for:

    • Financial and legal consulting services
    • Market research and development
    • Project management
    • Other services as required

Funding will not be provided as direct financial support for capital or infrastructure purposes, travel, or ongoing wages.

The program is managed by Southern Cross University (SCU) and is based at the SCU campus in Lismore, NSW. The Government has listened to the challenges that farmers are facing in their efforts to be successful on the land and, from this, have developed the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.

The White Paper outlines the initiatives and commitments by the Australian Government for five priority areas for action, with $4 billion investment in our farmers. Our vision is to build a more profitable, more resilient and more sustainable agriculture sector to help drive a stronger economy.

The Governance structure for the Program consists of:

    • The Program Steering Committee (PSC), the Program’s strategic decision maker. It oversees progress of Work Plan delivery, giving consideration and approval of any input provided by the Industry Advisory Group (IAG) and provides guidance to the Program Management and Delivery Team.
    • The IAG which provides input and support to the PSC in a number of key areas. It will comprise of up to 20 members chosen to represent the balance of expertise required to achieve the Program’s purpose.
    • An independent monitoring, evaluation, review and improvement (MERI) consultancy.

What happens?

The program encourages the formation of farmer groups: either formal co-operatives, looser collaborations or collective strategy and bargaining groups. Applicants must be primary producers under criteria set by the Australia Tax Office.

The project pathway has been designed to be useful as well as simple for applicants. It starts with a simple 20-minute online application (see website front page), allowing applicants to outline their proposed collaboration idea.

Farmers are then assigned an expert for Needs Assessment and initial Expert Support. These experts have been selected for their backgrounds in a range of business activities: legal, accounting, marketing, group facilitation and other professional services. They are from all across Australia and largely from rural and regional areas, ensuring they have an understanding of primary production. The aim of the consultation is to clarify and refine each project proposal. The most promising proposals are then progressed, with more assistance.

Applications are regularly reviewed, to enable a steady flow of projects, and momentum.

Farmers will drive and maintain autonomy and authority over any decisions regarding their farm business

    • Projects will be funded on a merit-based system where extent of on-farm impact, development of legacy projects and development of transferrable knowledge outputs will be key considerations
    • Support from existing agencies, regional networks and enabling organisations will be leveraged
    • Knowledge and capacity building activities are intended to be catalytic in nature and aim to generate legacy benefits

The project involves a hands-on team of six people backed by an Industry Advisory Group of eight agricultural leaders from across Australia. The pilot project was launched at a national forum on August 29, 2016 and will run until June 2018. It will stage two more national forums within this period. AgWorks.com.au is a registered domain of the Farming Together project.

The Process

Farming Together process