PLANS TO boost collaboration among farmers to help them capture a bigger share of food chain profits have been unveiled by the English Farming and Foods Partnership.

The organisation, formed after the Curry report to strengthen farming‘s position in the food industry, has based its plans on six months of research.

This showed that three-quarters of farmers wanted to collaborate more.

But the key reasons they did not were lack of opportunity, being unconvinced of the benefits and little trust in farmer-controlled businesses.

“These barriers need to be overcome,” said chief executive, Siôn Roberts, at the launch of the EFFP‘s report, Collaborating for Profit, in London on Tues (May 4).

“If farmers are going to survive the next five to 10 years with its background of reduced levels of farm support, they will have to develop an entrepreneurial mind-set and get a higher proportion of their income from the market,” he added.

Speaking at the launch, junior DEFRA minister Lord Whitty said that FCBs had not developed as much as, nor were they as closely related to, the food chain, as in other countries.

“Businesses co-operating down the food chain will be better placed to understand what the market wants, to develop new products and to add value.

“The ultimate aim is to ensure that English farming succeeds, operating in a food chain that ensures sustainable profits.”

While EFFP intends to spread the collaboration message to farmers and help them establish initiatives and joint ventures, most of the plan is aimed at improving the performance of FCBs.

It will help companies boost business performance, raise standards of corporate governance and leadership and keeping a close eye on competition law to ensure FCBs are not disadvantaged.

“There are some very good examples of English FCBs,” said Mr Roberts. But, at the overall level, these businesses are much smaller than elsewhere in the world.

“There are big issues to overcome if they are to become world class, at the forefront of new developments in collaborative activity and the source of innovative ideas and solutions.”

The NFU said the research indicated the roles that government, the food chain and industry stakeholders could play to deliver a profitable, effective food and farming sector.

President Tim Bennett said: “As a stakeholder in EFFP, the NFU looks forward to working with them to help promote collaboration across all sectors as a means of ensuring a profitable future for English farmers and growers.”

The report can be downloaded from www.effp.com.