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Co-operative Conversations: Episodes


AIRDATE: 17 Jun 2020 6:30pm AEST (approx 30 mins)

Episode 1: Growing Together

Could Co-operative Farming Future Proof Australian Farmers?

Hosted by renowned agricultural journalist Pete Lewis, the candid conversation begins with local and international co-op leaders, ag experts, and farmers debating and discussing the future of farming and why the co-operative business model could be an option to protect our home-grown agribusinesses.

Expert panel guests including Fiona Simson NFF, Jimmy Wilson CEO CBH Group, Emma Thomas CEO Achmea and many more.


AIRDATE: 1 Jul 2020 6:30pm AEST (approx 45 mins)

Episode 2 Part 1: Interview

Don't Cry Over Spilt Milk: The Mountain Milk Co-operative

The Mountain Milk Co-operative: After the collapse and then demutualisation of the Murray Goulburn Co-operative, a group of Victorian dairy farmers wanted to secure the future of their community by working together in a co-operative business model. Today, the Mountain Milk Co-operative is proud to be one of Australia’s newest dairy businesses. This is the story of how you can go from the edge of disaster to creating a business direction the next generations will be inspired to follow.

Join journalist Pete Lewis as he talks to Stuart Crosthwaite, Chairperson of Mountain Milk Co-operative about their interesting adventure in farming.


AIRDATE: 1 Jul 2020 8:15pm AEST (approx 60 mins)

Episode 2 Part 2: Roundtable

Why Do Some Co-operatives Succeed While Others Fail?

Join journalist Pete Lewis and our farmer panel as they discuss and explore the conditions and events that impact the rise and fall of agricultural co-operatives.


AIRDATE: 8 Jul 2020 6:30pm AEST (approx 30 mins)

Episode 3: Part 1: Interview

A Fine Nut to Crack: Marquis Macadamias Story

This is the story of a group of dedicated Aussie farmers who joined together to become the world's largest macadamia processing company. Co-operative Conversations host and renowned agricultural journalist Pete Lewis talks to Marquis Macadamias CEO Larry McHugh about their fascinating farming journey on the far north coast of Australia, as well as their recent rebranding and consolidation experience and how they managed to add value, profitability and resilience to farm incomes with advanced food manufacturing.


AIRDATE: 8 Jul 2020 8:15pm AEST (approx 60 mins)

Episode 3: Part 2: Roundtable

How Co-operatives Add Value

How the Co-operatives Add Value: maximising produce and the food manufacturing supply chain. Journalist Pete Lewis and our farmer panel discuss and explore how maximising their produce into marketable products can transform producers from price takers to price makers.


AIRDATE: 15 Jul 2020 6:30pm AEST (approx 30 mins)

Episode 4 Part 1: Interview

Bending The Rules: The Sweeter Banana Co-operative

Despite the cyclones and the geographic isolation, Sweeter Banana has not only pioneered the lunchbox banana market, it has remained profitable by sticking together and thinking differently.

Co-operative Conversation’s host Pete Lewis talks to Doriana Mangili, Business Manager of The Sweeter Banana Co-operative


AIRDATE: 15 Jul 2020 8:15pm AEST (approx 60 mins)

Episode 4 Part 2: Roundtable

A Collective Advantage

One of the things a co-operative can do is to unite a community or collective of producers to work together to overcome adversity or meet a market challenge. We speak with some different farm co-operatives about the challenges that brought them together in the first place and how they have used co-operation to mutual benefit.


AIRDATE: 12 Aug 2020 6:30pm AEST (approx 45 mins)

Episode 5 Part 1: Interview

Securing our bread bowl - safeguarding growers through collective efficiency

Follow the journey of a farmer who has grown from member to Deputy Chair for one of Australia’s largest co-operatives.

Co-operative Bulk Handling, or CBH, is Australia’s largest co-operative and one of the nation's biggest agribusinesses, exporting the grain of 4,000 West Aussie farmers.

Formed by farmers over 85 years ago it has a fascinating story, with lots of triumphs and tribulations along the way.


AIRDATE: 12 Aug 2020 7:45pm AEST (approx 60 mins)

Episode 5 Part 2: Roundtable

Sharing knowledge for the better

Join journalist Pete Lewis with special guests: Wally Newman (farmer), Phillip Guthrie (Birchip Cropping Group), Kelly Pearce (Wheatbelt Science) and Melina Morrison (BCCM)


AIRDATE: 26 Aug 2020 6:30pm AEST (approx 45 mins)

Episode 6 Part 1: Interview

RECLAIMING MARKET POWER: From competitors to collaborators

The Limestone Coast Fishermen’s Co-op is locally owned and operated by 27 local fishing family businesses. Just two years old, it started out of necessity and with some business planning support from Farming Together is now growing to become a very important part of its local community.

Hear about the many barriers they have had to overcome, and how they learned to trust each other enough to pool their capital and the benefit it has had on their local community. All this when Pete Lewis interviews Limestone Coast Fishermen’s Co-op founding member
and inaugural Chair Rodger Long in this unique interview.


AIRDATE: 26 Aug 2020 7:45pm AEST (approx 60 mins)

Episode 6 Part 2: Roundtable

Breaking the mould: How small producers can gain power and position by working together

Join journalist Pete Lewis with special guests:

Rodger Long, Founding Member & Inaugral Chair Limestone Coast Fisherman's Co-operative
Justin Phillips
, Assisting Consultant / Secretary Limestone Coast Fisherman’s Co-operative
Danielle Adams, Chief Executive Officer Clarence River Fisherman’s Co-operative
Greg Wall, Former Group CEO of Capricorn Society and Director of the International Co-operative Alliance
Melina Morrison, Chief Executive Officer - BCCM


AIRDATE: 9 Sep 2020 6:30pm AEST (approx 45 mins)

Episode 7 Part 1: Interview

The Co-operative Advantage - An Interview with Stephen Thandi

Fiercely proud of their 100% Australian ownership, Oz Group Co-op is passionate about providing their community with the freshest blueberries, raspberries and blackberries through sustainable farming.

Formed in 2001 as a partnership between four Coffs Coast growers. It became a co-op in 2013. Founded by members of the Coffs Coast Sikh community in an innovative pivot after the decline of the local banana industry and has grown to be the biggest blueberry supplier in Australia.

A powerful force in Australian horticulture, they have grown from four to 140 members, with much of their success attributed to leveraging their community ties and Aussie-made credentials. Pete Lewis talks to Stephen Thandi, Oz Group chairman and local businessman about his unique journey into farming and co-op management.


AIRDATE: 9 Sep 2020 7:45pm AEST (approx 60 mins)

Episode 7 Part 2: Roundtable

How to leverage paddock to plate and farmer-owned

This is about how co-ops can give you a marketing advantage that is leveraging the zeitgeist about Aussie produced and paddock to plate.

They will share how they take advantage of their co-operative structure and membership for consumer advantage. What difference does farmer-owned make to their bottom line? And how exactly do they push their food provenance, paddock to plate and made and produced in Australia credentials?

Pete Lewis speaks to the experts from some of Australia’s most innovative farming co-operatives.


AIRDATE: 30 Sep 2020 6:30pm AEST (approx 45 mins)

Episode 8 Part 1: Interview

A conversation with Emma Robinson, Beef Collaboration Project Inc

North Queensland-based Emma is passionate about family farming, beef and business models. She believes the co-operative business model can help future proof the family farm. Pete Lewis talks to Emma about her strategy for building producer membership and providing scalable opportunities in the bush. Listen to her fascinating journey spreading the word about collaboration in farming and how much it can benefit agriculture and the economy


AIRDATE: 30 Sep 2020 7:45pm AEST (approx 60 mins)

Episode 8 Part 2: Roundtable

The people factor: How to attract, keep and engage membership in co-ops

It doesn’t matter if you’re big or small, often the most crucial part of forming and growing co-operatives is the membership. From putting the right structures in place in the beginning to keeping members engaged and moving in the same direction through growth and success and trials and tribulations, there are plenty of ways you can get it wrong or right.

Pete Lewis talks to expert agricultural leaders about the importance of members and how to make it work.


AIRDATE: 14 Oct 2020 6:30pm AEST (approx 45 mins)

Episode 9 Part 1: Interview

In conversation with Kerry Murphy - The co-operative heart of the community

If there’s something Kerry Murphy doesn’t know about running a community co-operative, it’s not worth knowing. She has been general secretary of Victoria’s influential, award-winning and profitable rural supplies co-operative TAFCO, which managed to reinvent itself in innovative ways to continue to benefit members following cessation of the members’ traditional farming commodity (tobacco crop).

Kerry is experienced at motivating people behind her community and has many insights on raising funds and attracting government grants and has provided relevant workshops to new and existing agricultural industries. Tune in to find out more as Pete Lewis has a great conversation with Kerry.


AIRDATE: 14 Oct 2020 7:45pm AEST (approx 60 mins)

Episode 9 Part 2: Roundtable

Buying together to benefit members and communities - A roundtable discussion

This roundtable examines group buying and how co-ops add value and provide services through innovation and understanding their members, their customers and their communities. Our panelists are drawn from businesses that have successfully harnessed the power of their members to collaboratively purchase and/or supply food, agricultural products and related services


AIRDATE: 21 Oct 2020 6:30pm AEST (approx 60 mins)

Episode 10 Roundtable

The Capital Conundrum

Are you a farmer, fisher or forester interested in setting up a co-op? Or an existing co-op looking to raise capital? You’ve been told that it’s harder to raise capital in a co-op and harder to obtain loans? Or do you work in a relevant rural support service, from business management to finance and legal? This conversation is for you.