Lowering costs for farming communities

Lowering costs for farming communities

Based in NZ’s co-operative capital, the Ashburton Trading Society (ATS) is a rural supplies co-operative with a growing membership of 3,000+ shareholders. Proudly the ‘real farmers’ co-op’, it operates outlets in Ashburton, Methven and Rakaia.

Formed in 1963, Ashburton Trading Society (ATS) was set up by Mid-Canterbury farmers seeking lower input costs for their farming businesses. This vision continues to drive the growing co-operative today.
ATS members have access to over 2,000 Ruralco suppliers covering their farming and personal needs including irrigation supplies, fuel, building supplies, farm machinery, supermarkets, restaurants, clothing, electrical appliances and electricity supply.
The co-op’s friendly and experienced staff take pride in their commitment to quality, service and choice, and their combined depth of knowledge and understanding of the farming community and its needs.

Getting free, independent advice on the complex area of electricity purchase and contracts is a key benefit to ATS members through the co-operative’s energy division, ATS Energy. Thanks to a deep level of experience in the sector and strong local knowledge, ATS Energy can negotiate closely with electricity retailers to obtain favourable electricity rates and contract terms for shareholders. The co-op can negotiate deals that recognise the seasonal variability farming clients face, in terms of power use and income generation.

The ATS Seed division was established in 2009 after continued demand from ATS members looking to get their seed supplies and independent product information from their trusted local farming co-operative.  As an independent supplier, ATS Seed can recommend the best pasture seed, brassica, fodder beet and maize products at great prices.
The ATS Shop allows members to shop online for everything from agricultural chemicals to trough valves and pet care to footwear. For the personal touch, ATS has two arable and pastoral representatives travelling throughout Mid-Canterbury to look after farmers’ pasture and cropping requirements.

ATS is very much a part of local rural communities and has a long tradition of giving back through sponsorship and grants. Beneficiaries include the ATS Kids programme, a host of schools, charitable and sporting organisations, the EA Networks Sports Centre, the Ashburton A&P Show and the annual ATS Longbeach Coastal Challenge, pictured above right.Philip McKendry, pictured, joined the ATS Board of Directors in 1998, became Deputy Chair in 2005 and has chaired the board since 2011.

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An agricultural science honours graduate from Lincoln, Philip has had a long involvement in community irrigation development and was founding Chairman of Barrhill Chertsey Irrigation.
He is also currently Deputy Chairman Electricity Ashburton Limited (EA Networks) and formerly a Trustee of the Advance Ashburton Community Foundation.
With wife Judith, he farms a 200ha arable property near Methven.

When visiting NZ’s co-op capital recently, Cooperative Business NZ Chief Executive Craig Presland met Philip, an “inspirational champion of the co-operative business model”.

Craig reports “Apart from being impressed with ATS’s absolute commitment towards its core business of being an outstanding rural supplies provider, because their loyal Members simply deserved the best, I was very interested in ATS’s rapidly advancing technologies and capabilities with its customer card. This growing knowledge and IP in developing a truly world class e-transaction card could set ATS apart from its larger competitors and help ensure its survival in what is a highly competitive NZ rural supplies market.”

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