Innovation Through Co-operation

SAOS’ Co-op Sector Development Programme 2018/19

The programme for 2018/19 involves nine projects. We are currently looking to recruit co-ops to the first six projects in bold:

1. Measuring the benefits of Co-op Membership
2. Co-operative Agri Data Solutions
3. Effective Co-op Communication and Member Relations
4. Board Diversity and Performance
5. Balanced Scorecard Implementation
6. Co-op “Next Generation” Groups
7. Climate Change Policy
8. Baseline Data on Scottish Agricultural Co-ops
9. Specialist Co-op Advice


Project 1: Measuring the benefits of Co-op Membership

This project will continue to support farm co-ops to measure and report their annual Member Value Statement (MVS) on an ongoing basis. This work will also increase the understanding and benefits a co-op can bring to other actors in the supply chain through collaboration. We are looking to support four co-ops who are interested in measuring and reporting the benefits of membership in their respective co-ops.

Ultimately the project will support co-ops to increase their scale and influence, expanding their role in the supply chain and their value to farmers. In addition to the benefits identified, the project has the potential to drive co-op performance. Co-op management and boards will have measures and an incentive to continually improve the value co-ops return to farmer members.

To get involved, contact the Project Leader: Jim Booth jim.booth@saos.coop

Project 2: Co-operative Agri Data Solutions

The project’s primary aim is to develop and enhance our growing understanding of how co-operative mechanisms for managing agricultural and food chain data can be used to enhance the competitiveness of the Scottish food and drink sector and improve returns to farmers.

Co-operatives are ideally positioned to manage and add value to agricultural and food-chain data for the benefit of all participants.  The project proposes to work with key agri-co-ops and supply chains to establish how co-operative and collaborative agri-data management can be used to enhance value, reduce waste, increase market alignment and improve returns to farmers.

To get involved, contact the Project Leader: George Noble george.noble@saos.coop

Project 3: Effective Co-op Communication and Member Relations

The need for enhanced work in member communication and relations is well understood but is often overlooked. Without proper attention member loyalty will deteriorate and members’ use, control and ownership of their co-op will weaken. The project’s primary aim is to research and determine how to make co-op communications and member engagement more effective.

Some of the outcomes of this project includes: greater recognition and understanding of the benefits and value of being a member of a co-op; expanding co-operation amongst farmers and collaboration along the supply chain to address opportunities and challenges in Scotland’s food and drink sector; contribute to the improved the competitiveness and resilience of Scottish farming.

To get involved, contact the Project Leader: Hamish Walls hamish.walls@saos.coop

Project 4: Board Diversity and Performance

This initiative aims to improve the diversity and quality of agricultural co-op boards in Scotland by providing co-ops with guidance and examples of the benefits of having board diversity, help with the practicalities of its implementation and support to lead the way in diversity best practice.

This project aligns with Scottish Government’s aspiration to work with Scottish businesses to achieve a more sustainable and equitable future for Scottish agriculture in the 21st Century, encouraging the sector to make the best use of its resources and skills. Scotland Food and Drink’s “Ambition 2030 “also identifies the importance of farming, fishing, food and drink being recognised as top destinations in terms of careers under their first pillar of growth ‘People and Skills’.

To get involved, contact the Project Leader: Emma Patterson Taylor emma.pattersontaylor@saos.coop

Project 5: Balanced Scorecard Implementation

The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is a methodology and practical tool to measure progress and development of a business’ vision and strategy. BSC has been used in private business for many years, however, they are in their infancy in the co-operative sector. They offer a practical tool to measure the key performance indicators for businesses, providing a more rounded view than simply looking at financial performance.

The aim of this project is to bring learning from out with Scotland to be implemented and showcased to co-op businesses giving them the skills and roadmap to create their own balanced scorecards. Although not for all co-ops it is hoped that a significant number will use this knowledge over the coming years to drive their performance as well as innovation. The project will highlight through practical application the benefits of the BSC.

To get involved, contact the Project Leader: Stephen Young stephen.young@saos.coop

Project 6: Co-op “Next Generation” Groups

Attracting the next generation of farmers to agriculture has been a perpetual problem. Issues such as access to land, limited capital, and succession are well known throughout the industry, however, what isn’t appreciated is the impact of succession on co-op participation rates. This project aims to encourage and develop the ‘Next Generation’ of co-op leaders; young farmers and new entrants who are real ‘co-op advocates’, with the capability and enthusiasm to lead co-operation both at an informal farm-level (neighbouring) and formal co-op membership level.

If Scottish agriculture is to achieve its full potential and meet the challenges that lie ahead, the industry must be innovative, entrepreneurial and co-operative. It is believed that younger farmers, in general, have a higher disposition of these traits, but it needs to be nurtured and developed. The industry must do all it can to build farm resilience and ensure it creates an environment where farm businesses can prosper and individuals can develop to become future co-op leaders.

To get involved, contact the Project Leader: Anna Robertson anna.robertson@saos.coop

Project 7: Climate Change Policy

With increased pressure and scrutiny on the agricultural industry in Scotland there is a growing need to demonstrate that the sector is taking a proactive role in climate change mitigation, this project would explore and identify a new climate change initiative that the coop sector in Scotland can take forward.

The project will carry out a detailed opportunity analysis of the current Scottish Government “Climate Change Plan” to identify prospects that can be developed into viable projects with the aim of having a fully scoped project proposal which can be implemented through agricultural co-operatives in Scotland.

Project Leader: Anna Robertson anna.robertson@saos.coop

Project 8: Baseline Data on Scottish Agricultural Co-ops

The key aim of this project is to capture and record baseline information from the agricultural co-op sector in Scotland. Whilst there is limited data collected on a UK-wide basis (Co-ops UK), similar figures are not available on a Scottish basis. There is a deficiency in good statistics and information on the scale, participation rates, and market shares of agricultural co-operation in Scotland.

Currently no one has responsibility for gathering this key information on a regular basis. It would be invaluable to monitor the scale and influence of farm co-operation, to advise policy and to gauge the impact on national projects, including SAOS activities.

Project Leader: Jim Booth jim.booth@saos.coop

Project 9: Specialist Co-op Advice

This project aims to help businesses active in the agricultural sector benefit from the use of a co-op advisory service for the improvement of the economic performance, environmental efficiency and resilience of their business. The overall aim is to provide an independent, specialist co-op advisory service to support both the ongoing development of farmer co-operation, the establishment of new joint ventures, and increased supply chain collaboration in Scotland.

The service will be aimed at farmers, new entrants, any farmer joint-venture activity, existing farm co-ops and other farmer controlled businesses (FCBs). It will provide both “one-to-one” and “one-to-many” advice, consistent with Scottish Government policies on supporting increased co-operation and collaboration amongst Scotland’s farming community.

Project Leader: Jim Booth jim.booth@saos.coop