Cooperation provides stability for the successful operation of farms – 84% of the participants of the conference “A Conscious Move Towards Sustainable Cooperation” were convinced of this. The international cooperation conference took place in Latvia on December 16, 2021, and was conducted by Latvian Rural Advisory and Training Centre. The main goal of the conference was to create an understanding of the importance of conscious long-term cooperation for the stability and sustainable existence of agricultural farms.

The conference was attended by Minister of Agriculture of Latvia Kaspars Gerhards, management experts and cooperation practitioners. Experts and managers in the field of cooperation, existing members of cooperatives, farmers who are still looking for the right cooperative to join, as well as other people interested in the topic were among the listeners of the conference.

Several experienced experts from Latvia, Estonia and Ireland spoke at the conference as invited speakers. Peter Byrne (Ireland) shared his more than 40 years of experience in running a service cooperative. Liis Tuur (Estonia), who is the development manager of the first European-level cooperative “Epiim” created by Latvian and Estonian farmers, addressed the conference participants about the sustainability of the cooperative.

The participants of the conference were also introduced to the innovative Spoly method for recognizing the social value of the cooperative, which is being promoted through the AgriCoopValue project. Dzintars Vaivods, Chief Financial Officer of the Latvian Rural Consultation and Education Center, introduced the way it has been operating in Spain for four years. In his presentation entitled “The Invisible Value of Cooperation”, Dzintars emphasized the advantages of the Spoly method: “The calculation of the social value of Spanish cooperatives is obviously attached to the annual report. The social value of a cooperative is one of the criteria when a cooperative goes to negotiations with a municipality or the state to attract funding. Calculating social value has also become a valuable tool for making investment decisions, showing their wider impact on cooperative members, territories, etc. associated with them. ”

Sustainable and conscious cooperation consists of trust, honesty, diversity management, engagement, interest, a balance between economic, social and environmental aspects, and continuous learning. Many challenges are expected in all sectors, including cooperation, which will require new knowledge and innovation. Everyone will have to learn.