Anyone interested in safeguarding the supply of Australian organic food to their table has an opportunity to invest in the nation’s first ever organic farm investment co-operative.
The Organic and Regenerative Investment Co-operative launched this month.
Interested parties can now sink their own dollars into the co-op to financially support existing organic farms and supply-chain businesses so they can improve and expand in the long term.
The co-op has launched a campaign to raise $19,000 which will be used to identify suitable investments and build a website to engage the public and attract potential investors.
Albury’s own equity crowdfunding platform Cultivate Farms has aligned with the co-op. Director Sam Marwood, Albury, says their platform, which pairs investors with young farmers to find farming opportunities, will now help find the best farmers to run the businesses the co-op invests in.
“It’s another way for passionate people who want to give farming a crack access to land to do this,” Mr Marwood said.
The brains behind the co-op, Carolyn Suggate, Mansfield, Victoria, has been involved in certified organics for the past 15 years selling lamb, chickens, eggs and beef direct to customers.
“This sector has been growing around 14 per cent each year yet there is a lack of security around the longevity of each property which takes time and specific expertise to bring to certified organic status,” Ms Suggate said.
“The demographics of farming in general indicate the average age of farmers is late 50’s and, when combined with the high cost of entering the agriculture sector results in some of the country’s most productive and regenerative farms being sold to corporates, being reverted to chemical farming or sold to off-shore owners.”
Ms Suggate said Australia’s neighbour across ‘the ditch’ already has a globally recognised reputation for organics which, they describe, is not a brand. She said organic fresh fruit, wine, dairy, processing and domestic retail sectors were thriving in New Zealand and these products were backed by a solid export sector.
“Our intention is for organic farms to be preserved and held in perpetuity; investors and farm managers come and go but, through the investment co-operative, the farms are secured with Australian ownership, long-term financial benefits and, of great importance, Australian sovereignty.”
Founding co-op board members also include Food Connect founder Robert Pekin, Brisbane; Small Giants director Dan Fitzgerald, Melbourne, and TAFE NSW Total Environment Centre’s director, Robert Fenton, Albury.