Food and Fibre Marketing Cooperatives Grants
Managed in partnership with Rural Finance, the Victorian Government's Food and Fibre Marketing Cooperatives Grants program provides funding to promote the establishment of new marketing cooperatives in the food and fibre industries.
The purpose of the grants is to encourage the establishment of cooperative groups of farmers and value chain participants, using the collective capability of the groups to generate better access to markets and customers for the products of their food and fibre activities.
The program will be open until 30 June 2016, or until program funding has been exhausted.
How does the grant program work?
Grants of up to a total of $50,000 will be made for approved activities to eligible cooperatives or collaborative marketing groups. Cooperative arrangements may be traditional marketing cooperative structures, private companies or public companies (not listed).
The grants will be provided on a 50:50 cost-share basis, with the remaining cash funds to be provided by the cooperative body. The financial assistance may be provided for some or all of the following activities:
- Business plans and feasibility studies
- Legal costs associated with incorporation documentation and formal agreements that underpin the establishment of the cooperative group, such as a constitution and/or shareholder agreement
- Business and technical advice such as business health checks, systems advice, technical market advice, capability and asset audits, financial planning and management or intellectual property advice,
- Market research and intelligence including development of marketing plans and strategies, market surveys and data collection and attendance at trade shows and marketing events
- Capability development and training of members and/or staff in matters such as business management, corporate governance, marketing principles and export procedures and practice.
How much can I apply for?
The maximum assistance available for each eligible activity is $15,000 with the total assistance provided not exceeding $50,000.
An initial amount of up to $15,000 may be provided prior to the completion of a business plan, but any further assistance will be provided only on the basis of the existence of a satisfactory business plan, as assessed by Rural Finance. The plan must be completed within four months of the date of preliminary eligibility approval being given by Rural Finance and must be assessed by Rural Finance as complying with the business plan standard required for this program. Business plans should:
- provide a strategic assessment of the financial, production, marketing, human and natural resource aspects and likely future directions of the business
- identify medium and long term business goals
- isolate risks to the business and suggest mitigation options
- identify opportunities for enhancing the productivity, sustainability and management potential of the business
- provide referral and next step options where appropriate.
What is the department's role?
DEPI is responsible for the provision of direct support to the proposed or newly established marketing cooperative entity in the areas of market information and market development. A case officer will be appointed to assist the entity in regard to market information, capability development and may provide other support as required.
For more information, contact the Southern Victorian Case Manager, Mark Hincksman (DEPI Woori Yallock) on 0437 254 913 email Mark.Hincksman@dpi.vic.gov.au or Northern Victorian Case Manager, Jenny Treeby (DEPI Mildura) on 03 5051 4537 email Jenny.Treeby@dpi.vic.gov.au or Program Manager, Aimee McCutcheon on 03 5833 5308 email Aimee.McCutcheon@dpi.vic.gov.au
To be eligible for assistance under the program, the group and individual applicants must satisfy the following criteria.
- The minimum number of members of an applicant group is five, of which at least three must be primary producers. Other members can be farmers or those in an associated value-chain business.
Individual members related by birth or marriage are able to be separately part of an applicant group, but only if they:
- are not part of the same family business entity,
- have no common property ownership, and
- do not share an ABN.
- Farmer members of an applicant group are expected to be commercial in scale, turnover and profitability and deriving at least 51 per cent of their individual incomes from farming activities. As a guide it is anticipated that the individual farming businesses in the cooperative arrangement would have an estimated value of agricultural output in excess of $100,000 per annum.
- Applicants must qualify as new or recently established cooperative marketing entities which are the target group for assistance. New or recently established entities are taken to be those incorporated less than four years prior to the date of application. Entities established within this time frame that are assessed to be financially self-sustaining may be excluded from support.
- Satisfactory evidence must be provided that there is a common understanding of the purpose of the proposed collaborative marketing entity, and that the participants are prepared to and able to cooperate.
- Applications must feature a “lead’ applicant (principle contact) which will be an individual that can demonstrate satisfactory past commercial performance.
- To be eligible for financial assistance marketing cooperative groups are meant to be fully commercial in scale, turnover and profitability as assessed by Rural Finance. Smaller, non-commercial scale marketing cooperatives that do not meet this criterion are not eligible for support.
Other cases may be eligible at Rural Finance’s discretion.
Where Rural Finance determines that the proposed collaborative marketing entity is not of sufficient scale, or financially viable, it reserves the right to decline or withdraw support for any project.
Terms and conditions
An Expression of Interest application form is required to be submitted by the proposed members of the cooperative marketing entity to Rural Finance. This information will be used to determine eligibility for support of initial funding amounts for the preparation of a business plan for the entity.
Grant payments will be made directly to the marketing group (to principal contact, unless otherwise specified) upon evidence that their 50 per cent contribution has been satisfied. This co-contribution must be financial, with in-kind contributions not considered.
Submission of the entity's business plan to Rural Finance for approval will be required to support applications for further funding under the program. The business plan (if approved) will provide the basis for decisions on a suitable package of further funding and assistance. All decisions in relation to financial assistance across the five activities (see Nature of Assistance) will be made by Rural Finance.
Each member company of the cooperative is expected to provide details of their individual business, including history and financial performance for examination by Rural Finance.
Should it become evident, subsequent to approval, that an applicant or entity was not entitled to grant support or part thereof, Rural Finance will seek repayment of the relevant amount. Where fraudulent activity may have occurred Rural Finance will refer cases to Victoria Police for investigation.
Rural Finance may request that an applicant provide further relevant information as deemed necessary to decide and/or review an application.
How do I apply?To apply for a Food and Fibre Marketing Cooperatives Grant you must submit an Expression of Interest form to Rural Finance.
Parties seeking information and/or application forms should visit the Rural Finance website or contact their head office.
Completed applications should be forwarded to Rural Finance at the address below.
The program will be open for a four year period to 30 June 2016, or until program funding is exhausted.
If required, a Rural Finance representative will be in contact for a further discussion, which may include a personal interview or on-site visit.
Payments made by Rural Finance may result in financial, taxation, legal or other implications. Applicants are advised to seek independent professional advice in regards to possible implications before participating in this program.
Rural Finance Head Office
57 View Street, Bendigo
(03) 5448 2600
PO Box 1313
Bendigo Central 3552