ICOS conference to focus on sustainable future for co-ops coops

The challenges and opportunities facing agricultural co-ops will be discussed at a major national conference in Dublin tomorrow.
ICOS conference to focus on sustainable future for co-ops coops

European Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan will open the 39th ICOS conference while Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney will deliver the closing address.

Professor John Fitzgerald, chairperson of the Advisory Panel on Climate Change, British dairy farmer David Christensen, a member of the Arla Board of representatives, and Food Harvest 2020 chairperson Dr Sean Brady will be among the speakers.

ICOS president Martin Keane said the conference will recall the slogan of Horace Plunkett, the founder of the co-operative movement in Ireland; ‘Better Farming, Better Business, Better Living’ in terms of the future sustainability of co-ops.

“The conference will examine the economic, environmental and social sustainability of our co-operatives and how they need to adapt to deal with the challenges and opportunities that they face as producers in an increasingly globalised marketplace while maintaining their local roots,” he said.

Mr Keane said co-ops have a major role to play in Food Wise 2025, supporting the endeavours of primary producers and contributing to economic, environmental and social progress.

The conference, sponsored by the FBD Trust, will examine strategies and practices that will enhance the capacity of co-ops on a long term and sustainable basis.

Damien O’Reilly of RTÉ will preside at the conference which will examine how co-ops can work with their members to ensure the sustainable intensification of agriculture, achieving specified environmental goals, while ensuring farming families can earn sustainable incomes The unbalanced membership demographic in co-op structures, where young people and women are not adequately represented, will be also examined.

Another panel discussion will focus on ecomomic sustanability and better business practices in co-ops. ICOS says a key factor in the success of co-ops is the extent to which they can command the loyalty of its members in terms of trading, financing the Society and participating in its management.

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