East Anglian farming co-op celebrates positive performance, despite tough year

Richard Anscombe, Fram Farmers. Picture: FRAM FARMERS

Richard Anscombe, Fram Farmers. Picture: FRAM FARMERS - Credit: Archant

An East Anglian farming co-operative has performed well over the last financial year, despite a challenging time for its members and for the group, it said.

Farm Farmers chairman Rodney Baker-Bates said it had achieved a positive cashflow from its operations and its performance provided “a strong base” for the future as he addressed its annual general meeting in Framlingham on November 16.

The group achieved an operating surplus of £184,362 before tax during the financial year to June 30 compared to £141,000 in 2015/16. Members collectively received payments totalling £436,000 from manufacturers’ rebates.

The co-op, now in its 57th year, provides purchasing, grain marketing and administrative services for more than 1,400 farming businesses throughout the UK. who collectively farm more than 400,000 hectares.

Meanwhile, Framtrade Ltd, a wholly-owned retail subsidiary which supplies oil and gas products to more than 4,000 members of the public, achieved a pre-tax operating profit of £271,484 compared to £273,520 2015/2016.

The group’s capital and reserves rose to a record £3.460m, enabling it to negotiate “extremely competitive” terms, it said.

Members’ commitment to the cooperative remained “very strong”, reflected in a 4.8% increase in the number of invoices processed during the year, to 214,036, compared to 204,280 in 2015/2016.

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Chief executive Richard Anscombe said the purchasing department had made good progress, with turnover up by 6.3% and volume of products sourced rising by 4.4%.

“Given the uncertainties over Brexit and pressure on margins within the agricultural sector, I am pleased with the group’s performance during the last financial year,” he said.

“During the year we have made significant investments in frontline services, our people and systems to maximise the quality and value of the pro-active service which we provide for our members.

“They appreciate that we continue to operate ethically and transparently solely in their best interests, which is reflected in the number of new farming businesses that are applying to join Fram Farmers.”

The livestock department and Fram Farmers Insurance continued to grow, the group said.

The livestock department was growing at more than 20% annually under the management of Jodie Allen, while Fram Farmers Insurance, an insurance business formed in December 2015 and managed by Jemma Neesham, had also increased its business, saving members an average of 30% on their premiums, it said.

The arable inputs team, managed by Laura Buckingham, had been “very successful” in securing key inputs and negotiating very competitive deals, while adding value to the independent agronomist sector, it added, while a collaboration between Fram Farmers’ crop marketing department and marketing partner ADM Direct had resulted in 195,000 tonnes of grain traded.