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"Cooperatives: success stories to help farmers overcome challenges"The success story of cooperatives in boosting farmers' positioning in the food chain and driving innovation to help farmers produce more efficiently using less resources was underlined by Cogeca President Thomas Magnusson in Estonia.
The high-level event “International Experience and Success Stories of Co-operatives” was organized by the Estonian University of Life Sciences and the Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce during the Estonian Presidency, gathering together farmers, professors, politicians, cooperatives from across the EU.
Speaking at the event, he underlined the key role of agri-cooperatives in keeping rural areas alive throughout Europe, by providing economic growth and employment. They empower farmers to join forces and pool their supply together to get a better price for it. They also strengthen their positioning in the food chain and enable them to better market their produce, get a higher return for it and find new outlets for it. Cooperatives are also unique as they are owned by their farmer members who receive a share of the profits, he said.
Agri-cooperatives are leading the way too in environmental friendly food production in Europe, he added. They meet society’s demands by producing high quality food in a sustainable way, using innovative methods. They also play a vital role in renewable energy production. They invest and facilitate the uptake of new techniques like smart farming.
To promote and develop this, Cogeca will hold its Presidency Business Forum “Harnessing the Power of Digitalisation in the Agri-Food Chain” this month, focusing on the pivotal role of agri-cooperatives in driving the sector towards digital transformation and how digitalization and efficient use of big data are revolutionising business models and processes in the agri-food chain. Initiatives to harness the power of the digital revolution will be debated. The European Award for Cooperative Innovation in European Parliament will also be presented this month for outstanding innovation practices and solutions.
Wrapping up, he highlighted that the presence of cooperatives is much more developed in Northern countries like Denmark, Sweden and Finland with a market share of over 50% and needs to be encouraged in countries where their market share is low, especially Eastern European ones which have few cooperatives, to help farmers overcome the increasing challenges. This is also one of the priorities of the European Commission.
Mr Magnusson is from the Federation of Swedish Farmers (LRF) and farms a mixed dairy farm with forestry in Sweden and is a member and board member of Lantmännen cooperative group.
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Publication date: 11/20/2017
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