A new study has been granted funding to investigate young farmers’ attitudes to co-operatives, co-op shareholding, co-op boards and possible involvement in boards of management in the future.

FRS Network has been approved a research grant from the Golden Jubilee Trust to conduct research on the matter.

Dr. Pat Bogue, of Broadmore Research and Consultancy, has been appointed by FRS to conduct, analyse and report back findings of the surveys “to gain an independent outlook on the likely participation of young people in the future of co-operatives in Ireland going forward”.

Peter Byrne, CEO of FRS Network, said: “Most co-ops in Ireland have young farmers trading with them who are not shareholders and may never have given consideration to the benefit or otherwise of having shareholdings.

“Their parents may well be shareholders but have not discussed the transfer of their shares.

Future board members will have to be elected among future shareholders – therefore, it is important we introduce these young people to how co-ops are managed and how their future management will be secured.

Michael Spellman, president of ICOS and director of Golden Jubilee Trust, also spoke, adding: “After assessing FRS Networks’ application for the grant it was clear to see that steps needed to be taken in this area to gauge the future of the co-operative movement in Ireland as it rests in the hands of our young farmers.

“The now older generation have historically played an active part in co-operatives and we need to pass this on to the next generation.”

Spellman said that the study should shed light on what young people currently think about co-ops and their views on future participation in them.

Dr. Pat Bogue, Broadmore Research and Consultancy said: “We are looking forward to launching the survey and are confident that young farmers out there will take part and have their voice heard.

The co-operative movement is very important to the Irish rural community and we aim that this research, and future research thereafter, will help form action to preserve the active participation in co-operatives through young people getting involved like their parents and grandparents did before them.

Anyone interested in participating in the survey can access it on the FRS website here. All responses will be confidential, the FRS has assured.