Northern NSW named agricultural hub of excellence
A COLLECTIVE of Northern NSW farmers co-operatives will make up the Federal Government’s newly established National Centre of Excellence for Agricultural Co-operatives.
Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan said the $13.8 million agriculture project aims to provide expert advice and information to up to 2000 farmers and 100 farmer groups across the nation.
"From Woodenbong cattle breeders and Harwood sugar growers to Woolgoolga blueberry farmers, and from the Casino Meatworks and Norco to the Fishermen’s co-ops in the Clarence River and Ballina, this is great news for all our agricultural producers" Mr Hogan said.
“The Northern Rivers has some of the oldest and most successful co-ops in the country, so it makes complete sense to locate the programme in our region.”
The centre will be based at Southern Cross University and will draw on the expertise of the Northern Rivers Cooperative Alliance which comprises Norco, Northern Cooperative Meat Company, NSW Sugar Milling Cooperative, Clarence River and Ballina Fishermen’s cooperatives, Summerland Credit Union and Regional Development Australia.
Head of the Northern Rivers Cooperative Alliance Greg McNamara said the pilot would encourage innovation in agriculture, nationally and locally.
"This is an unprecedented opportunity for grass-root farmers to lean about how to establish cooperatives and grow their businesses," he said.
Southern Cross University Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Lee said the university is ‘delighted to be chosen to lead this important national program which has the potential to transform regional Australia.’
"We have worked in partnership with industry, business and government stakeholders in the delivery of a wide range of projects from developing sustainable aquaculture operations to the development of new crop varieties," Professor Lee said.
"We will establish a national knowledge network of individuals and groups that are focused on supporting the collaborative approaches to agriculture and we will be working with farmers right across the country," he said.
"The Northern Rivers has some of the oldest and most successful co-ops in the country, so it makes complete sense to locate the programme in our region.
"Improving the competitiveness of our farms helps farmers and creates new local jobs in agriculture."