The 2013 Producer Organisation Information Forum jointly organised by the UFU, DARD, Northway Mushrooms and the Horticulture Forum Northern Ireland treated producers this week to a number of excellent presentations from top industry speakers.
UFU Deputy President Barclay Bell commented on the success of the ‘Growing Stronger Together’ event, he said; “The UFU are delighted to have been a part of the organising committee for the Producer Organisation Information Forum and are very pleased with its success. The Information Forum was organised to give producers the opportunity to find out more about what a Producer Organisation is, how it works and also the benefits of becoming a producer organisation. Whilst the Producer Organisation model satisfies Horticulture requirements at present, under CAP 2013 proposals it would suggest that the model could be replicated across other Agricultural sectors and it pleases me to see milk, beef and sheep producers in our audience today.”
Elaine Shaw , Northway Mushrooms continued; ““The Information Forum was a fantastic opportunity for people to find out what’s involved in running a Producer Organisation and hear first-hand the benefits that a collaborative approach can bring. In our current economic climate there is no better time to be exploring ways to make our horticultural industry stronger and more competitive. Producer Organisations can be a real driver of growth, providing small businesses with the reach, buying power and influence to compete and significantly grow their market share. That has certainly been our experience at Northway Mushrooms and it is an experience that we wanted to share with growers in other sectors who may be thinking about forming their own Producer Organisation.”
Frank Donnelly’s farm, Keenaghan Mushrooms, is a member of a Producer Organisation and told of his experiences. Frank said; “There have been a lot of benefits to my business since becoming a member of a Producer Organisation, not least the many benefits of working as a group, like group buying and sales and marketing. Northway has focussed a lot of support on business expansion, which I’ve benefited from, and they’ve also helped me to access new technology and put in place more efficient processes. You get out much more than you put in when you’re a member of a Producer Organisation like Northway, and this approach is one I’d certainly recommend to other growers.”
Elaine Chapman, DARD concluded; “I am very pleased to have been part of the organising committee for the Growing Stronger Together event. I firmly believe that increased co-operation between growers and effective collaboration with supply chain partners is vital to the future of the commercial horticulture industry in Northern Ireland. This event definitely helped us today understand more about how Producer Organisations operate.”