Indie store update
Rural supplies co-op diversifies membership base
The Tobacco & Associated Farmers Co-operative Limited (TAFCO) is an agricultural merchandising co-operative. Profits are retained in local communities and equitably distributed amongst members.
Thu Mar 18 2021
Myrtleford-based rural supply co-operative TAFCO in regional Victoria has opened its membership to different types of members, after previously only allowing farmers and agricultural workers to join.
TAFCO secretary Kerry Murphy, said the decision came as a result of the impact the coronavirus pandemic had on the local economy. She told the Myrtleford Times:
Since COVID, the importance of buying locally has really come through. It made us think we should really let everyone be a part of this wonderful business.
It's been at the front of our minds with the COVID situation and I suppose a little bit of a change of attitude from people, looking closer to home for things, and thinking about their buying choices. We're encouraging people to put money back into the community.
Ms Murphy stressed the difference between a cooperative business model and a traditional one. She explains:
The core of our business isn't about maximising profit, it isn't about people investing to get a good return on it. We aren't the stock exchange; it's about investing in the local community and a local business and having a fair return.
We exist for good pricing and quality goods and services to meet members' needs. Anyone can now buy shares in the TAFCO co-operative for a minimum of $250, but there are some requirements to be met.
In any co-operative you must be active, there's an active membership provision in all co-operatives' rules, and in TAFCO's case that means you must trade. The $250 is the shares, your ownership, you're a member-shareholder of the co-operative. Then you have to trade, you have to buy things from us at least once a year, there's no minimum amount you have to spend with us, you just have to transact.
We're the same as a normal business structure in that we have to make money, we have to pay tax and we've got to do all the things that a business does, but it's the philosophy behind the structure that's quite different.