The 2018 Australian Regional Development Conference will be held at Twin Towns Services Club, Tweed Heads, NSW this month over 17-18 September.

Joining us at the conference is Ms Lorraine Gordon, Program Director at Farming Together who will present on ‘Developing Self-Sustaining Collaborative Groups Among Australian Primary Producers’.

Ms Lorraine Gordon, Program Director at Farming Together

Abstract

Agriculture represents approximately 3% of Australia’s GDP but it is estimated that the sector represents more than 40% of the GDP of some regional economies. Once multiplier effects are considered, this can be as high as 70-80% in many small towns. There is a desire among Australia’s food and fibre producers to build capacity on-farm, expand this dynamism post-farm gate, to secure more control up the supply chain and seize opportunities that exporting offers. This desire has driven an exception farmer response to the Federal Government’s national Farm Cooperatives and Collaboration Pilot Program (Farming Together). In less than two years the program has had contact with more than 21,000 farmers, making Farming Together possibly Australia’s largest farmer agency. It has supported more than 730 collaborative farm, fish and forestry groups.

In its first year it turned a $9.21m Australian Government investment into $20.45m of value-added production, creating 131 FTE jobs. And, in less than a year it fostered 180 co-ops, possibly the largest number of co-ops for the time scale in Australian farming history. It has established a new, non-competitive funding model, incorporating expert support and leading to $6 million distributed to 52 farmer-driven projects designed to build regional prosperity. Farmer appetite suggests that this model could be extended to deliver a successful, self-sustaining farmer start-up across regional Australia.

KEY LEARNINGS:
1. Agriculture is a powerful determinant of regional prosperity pre- and post-farmgate.
2. Farmers are hungry to develop the efficiencies offered through collaboration.
3. Results obtained through the collaborative model developed by Farming Together are replicable.

Biography

Lorraine Gordon is the Program Director for Farm Co-operatives and Collaboration Pilot Program. She is also a beef cattle trader from Ebor in the New England Tablelands and Director of Moffat Falls Pty Ltd which operates a number of successful tourism, health and agricultural businesses in northern NSW. Previous positions have included CEO of Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast and Regional Agribusiness Manager with Westpac Bank. Lorraine presided on the Small Business Review Panel of the Reserve Bank of Australia and was awarded the 1994 NSW ABC Rural Woman of the Year for her contribution to Rural Australia. She is also a Graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program and is currently completing her PhD in Ecological Economics.

For more information on the 2018 Australian Regional Development Conference this September and to secure your spot, please visit regionaldevelopment.org.au

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