Fram Farmers, the Suffolk-based purchasing and crop marketing co-operative, has reported an increased surplus on 6.3% higher revenues from its latest full year of trading.

The group made a pre-tax operating surplus of £184,362 on revenues of £178.73 million in the year ended June 30th 2017, compared to £141,000 and £169.52m in the previous year. The company has returned £436,000 to members in trading rebates.

Group capital and reserves at the year-end rose to a record £3.46m from £3.30m twelve months before, “providing a level of financial strength which gives suppliers confidence that they will be paid on time and in full, enabling the co-operative to negotiate extremely competitive terms,” notes chief executive Richard Anscombe.

The business has over 1,400 farm business members, with a collective area of 400,000 hectares. The latest year saw a 4.4% rise in the volume of products sourced, and a 4.8% increase to 214,036 in the number of invoices processed during the year – over 50% of members now opt for the paperless statement system introduced in April 2016. Live account balances can also be viewed online.

Mr Anscombe says the Group’s Arable Inputs Team under Laura Buckingham successfully secured key inputs at competitive rates on behalf of members and independent agronomists. It sourced over £30m worth of agrochemicals and £20m of both fertilisers and fuels. The Livestock Department maintained its 20% annual growth rate with £33m of purchases from finished feeds, straights and animal medicines to dairy chemicals. Fram Farmers Insurance, formed in December 2015, also continued to grow.

The crop marketing collaboration between Fram Farmers’ Crop Marketing Department and marketing partner ADM Direct is now in its seventh year. The 2016/17 marketing year saw 195,000 tonnes of grain traded with 116,500 tonnes committed to the combinable crop marketing pools – close to its highest level.

Framtrade Ltd, the wholly-owned retail business supplying oil and gas products to more than 4,000 customers, made a pre-tax operating profit of £271,484 (£273,520 in 2015/2016).

“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,” notes Mr Anscombe.  “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.”