The UK's No. 1 Farm Business Event

‘Back to the Future’ why co-ops are right for right now!

An AgriScot Blog with Tim Bailey


Tim Bailey, CEO at SAOS reflects on co-ops, where they have come from and where they are going, in this short blog ahead of their seminar at AgriScot from 2.30pm to 3.30pm in seminar room two.

Farmer-owned co-ops are not new – in fact some of them have been around for well over a hundred years! Co-ops are established for a variety of reasons – to open up marketing opportunities, pool buying power and maximise machinery and labour use through farmers working together, and generally gaining strength in numbers and economies of scale. These are all great reasons but, for the most part, co-ops remain misunderstood, undersold and, we believe, the unsung heroes of our farming sector.

Co-ops are sometimes unfairly perceived as a bit old-fashioned and no longer relevant. In our Agriscot seminar we will release the latest annual Scottish agri co-op industry statistics, showing the sheer scale and depth of co-ops across Scotland and the significant economic contribution they make to the farming economy. We will also demonstrate that co-ops are potentially the critical driver to help our farming sector succeed for the future.

We will hear from four successful and progressive farmers from the dairy, beef and lamb, and arable sectors, who will share how using their co-ops helps benefit their businesses, making them more efficient and resilient for the future.

Our speakers are Andrew Marchant from Tarff Valley, Scott Calderwood from First Milk, Amy Geddes from Scottish Agronomy and Martin MacDonald from Highland Grain. They’ll talk about various business benefits their co-ops provide, including access to technical advice, benchmarking groups, maximizing market returns and farmer-driven sustainability programmes.

We’ll also be asking for input from the audience at the end of the session, and discussing options and potential opportunities for creating more and different agri co-operation to address climate, nature, productivity and profitability challenges over the coming years.

Co-ops are as much a part of the future as they have been the past!”

View the full seminar programme here.

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