Farmer-owned co-operative Fram Farmers has reported strong results for the financial year to 30June 2015. The Group, which was formed in the 1960s, purchases farm inputs and markets combinable crops on behalf of more than 1,300 farming businesses who collectively farm over 400,000 hectares across the UK, enabling them to obtain best value from the supply chain.
Despite significant reductions in the cost of key agricultural inputs such as fertiliser and fuel, Fram Farmers’ turnover remained stable at 183.3million (2014: 184.5 million) and a 174,117 operating surplus for the financial year increased the Groups financial reserves to a record2,848,130.
Announcing the results, Chairman Serena Greenwell stated: “Given that the agricultural industry has struggled, with returns falling across most sectors, Fram Farmers has performed well. Members continue to rely on Fram Farmers to provide competitive pricing across a wide range of inputs and toprotect their businesses against volatile markets. During the year we welcomed sixty-one new farm businesses, while existing Members continued to increase their commitment to the Group, grow their businesses and farm more hectares.
“In addition to securing competitive prices, we also rewardedMembers’ loyalty by returning all of the rebates which were negotiated with suppliers to those who earned them, a total of 849,463.”
Richard Anscombe, Chief Executive Officer, added: “Fram Farmers isan innovative leader amongst farmer cooperatives, one which operates ethically and transparently for the sole benefit of our Members. We aim to deliver the best service and information supported by the best value and unbiased advice to optimise the performance of our Members’ businesses whilst promoting the cooperative ethos. The success of this approach has been reflected in theGroup’s strong performance over the last 12 months.
“Despite a slight fall in purchasing turnover, which reflected much larger declines in the prices of two key farm inputs, fertiliser and fuel,purchasing volumes held up well. During the year we processed 203,974 invoices,a new record that underlines the huge savings in administration time from which Fram Farmers Members benefit.”
Key highlights of Fram Farmers’ year included a 17% rise, to 124,200tonnes, in the quantity of livestock feed purchased due to increasing commitment from existing Members and a healthy influx of new producers,together with an 8.5% increase in animal health products. The cooperative also recorded a 5.6% increase in the volume of crop protection products as Members bought more through the Group, while greater use of its fertiliser pools reflected the benefits of buying in this way, with the additional advantages of scheduled delivery and split payments.
In addition to the major feed and agronomic inputs Fram Farmers also achieved a 9% increase in electricity sales, a product area which continues to deliver significant financial and time savings to Member businesses. Machinery turnover remained static, a good performance against the backdrop of significant falls in some sectors of the UK market, while tractor hire volume increased as farms continue to restructure their fleets and systems to be more financially and operationally efficient.
The Fram Farmers Marketing Department, which operates a unique partnership with ADM, continued to produce excellent results, with a 44%year-on-year increase in the volume of grain committed to achieve a seasonal record of over 200,000 tonnes. Commitment to the grain marketing pools, which help members to overcome market volatility also increased by 61%.
Framtrade, Fram Farmers’ wholly-owned retail subsidiary which supplie soil and gas products to over 4000 members of the public, had an excellent year,contributing a record surplus of 378,288 to the Group.
Richard Anscombe concludes: “To ensure that Fram Farmers continues to move forward we have further enhanced the range and quality of our services for the year ahead. We will be working even more closely with suppliers to drive best value and service, as well as helping Members to improve their management of risk in respect to input purchasing and crop marketing. As a progressive cooperative we also continue to invest in the Next Generation of farmers with specific events and training based upon what our younger Memberstell us is important to their farming futures.”