£10m fund to support collaboration

by Peter Crowe

Defra is launching a ‘collaboration fund’ of up to £10 million as part of a series of measures to help farmers and small producers compete and thrive alongside larger businesses in the food supply chain.

The fund will be designed in consultation with the farming industry and will work by bringing together those interested in co-operation. These groups will be supported by the funding to formally establish, develop or expand, so that farmers and growers can take advantage of new market opportunities to help their businesses compete.

Defra is planning to work with the industry to develop a framework for the use of these funds. For example, funds could help in: bringing together farmers and growers with an interest in co-operation; enabling producers to explore the practicalities of formal co-operation; supporting groups to formally establish, develop or expand; and encouraging added-value projects that improve the profitability of farmer and grower members through formal collaborative structures.

The plan is for funds to be made available on a competitive basis to groups of individual farm businesses in England, existing cooperatives or Producer Organisations (POs), consultancies and NGOs.