CO-OP: Farming Together participants Deniliquin farmers Airlie Trescowthick and Hugh Landale. Airlie founded  app Farmer eXchange for knowledge-sharing and best practices in Australian agriculture.
CO-OP: Farming Together participants Deniliquin farmers Airlie Trescowthick and Hugh Landale. Airlie founded app Farmer eXchange for knowledge-sharing and best practices in Australian agriculture. Alix McFarland

Agricultural co-op program scores double awards

SOUTHERN Cross University's Farming Together collaborative program has won its second national award in as many days.

The university designed the Farming Together program as a collaborative industry model to help farmers, fishers and foresters tackle drought and climate change.

On August 27 the program enabled the university, jointly with Deakin University, to win an award in the industry engagement category at the Australian Financial Review Higher Education Awards 2019.

Shortly after that on August 29 the university also picked up an outstanding collaboration award for the community engagement category as part of the Business Higher Education Round Table awards.

SCU vice chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker said for both awards, the judges were won over by Farming Together's demonstrated ability to harness collaboration for systemic change in order to address the unprecedented threat of increasingly volatile markets and extreme climatic conditions on Australian farmers' livelihoods.

"As a progressive, public-purpose university that is proud of our impact agenda, these awards are further endorsement of our aspiration to be Australia's Engaged University, where the opportunities for impact in our backyard are translated into solutions for the front yard and the world,” Professor Shoemaker said.

During its two-year pilot period Farming Together delivered an innovative knowledge mobilisation model to 28,500 primary producers nationwide, unlocking the power of collaboration and empowering a generation of primary producers.

The program offered on the ground support to advance farmers, fishers and foresters projects and provided material and expert support on collaboration and co-operative structures.

Farming Together program director Lorraine Gordon said the program had exceeded targets for farmers by 300 per cent.

"SCU was brave to take on such a big project, but receiving two top national awards for engagement in the space of less than a week is testament to the real-world impact of this program,” Ms Gordon said.

The Farming Together Program was designed collaboratively with the farmers and primary producers that comprise the Northern Rivers Co-operative Alliance, whose members - such as NORCO - wanted to better advocate and support the development of more co-operatives and collaborative businesses across the agricultural sector in Australia.