14 June 2002

PRACTICAL ADVICE AT

THE SHOW

A new booklet on co-

operation is to be sent to

29,000 farmers in Scotland

THE buzz word at the 2002 Royal Highland Show, as at most of the leading shows in recent years, will again be co-operation.

But instead of just talking about it, the Scottish Executive has dipped into its pocket and announced a grant of £20,000 towards the cost of distributing a booklet to almost 27,000 farmers throughout Scotland.

The Farmers Co-operating booklet is produced by the Scottish Agriculture Organisation Society, the umbrella organisation for farmers co-operatives.

Instead of the usual warm words, the clear benefits of co-operation are highlighted in the booklet in 16 case studies of different farm businesses.

According to James Graham, SAOS chief executive, the farmers featured in the booklet had no difficulty in identifying the value to their businesses of co-operating.

The main benefits included extra returns, savings in capital investment or variable costs, better market information and, just as importantly, reduced time pressure, stress and hassle.

Announcing the money just before the Highland Show, Scotlands rural development minister Ross Finnie said: "I am pleased that the Scottish Executive has been able to assist with the distribution of this important publication.

"A Forward Strategy for Scottish Agriculture emphasised the importance of fostering co-operation amongst farmers. Machinery rings, buying in bulk or other forms of collaboration can all assist in keeping down costs.

"Co-operation also allows farmers to band together in groups of a meaningful size that allows them to market their goods more effectively."

Jimmy McLean, head of agricultural services with the Royal Bank of Scotland, sponsors of the booklet as well as the main sponsors of the Royal Highland Show, says that small businesses can find it difficult to meet the increasing demand for quality and consistency demanded by consumers. "While some individual producers can meet these demands in niche markets, the majority are likely to remain too small, unless they co-operate with other producers."