Fram Farmers is a true farmer-owned cooperative, continuing to keep the farmer at its heart, as it has done throughout its 60 years.
Fram Farmers, or Framlingham Farmers as it was originally called, was founded in 1960 by a group of farmers who had the foresight to recognise the advantages of pooling their purchasing power. These farmers would become the first board of directors.
They fostered rapport with smaller, local, machinery traders, increasing the traders’ business, and then used the group’s buying power to negotiate favourable terms on machinery parts and equipment.
Membership grew as local farmers witnessed the benefits of cooperative purchasing, and Framlingham Farmers opened offices on Market Hill, Framlingham, employing their first ever full-time member of staff.
In the 1970s, the group quickly gained a well-earned reputation for innovation. They were one of the earliest UK adopters of OSR as an effective break crop from continuous barley, and by the late 1970s were pioneering a new concept in agronomy, when there was a surge in demand, not just for independent agrochemical advice, but also for access to the most advanced wheat husbandry guidance.
The group outgrew its offices and, in 1977, moved to larger premises on New Road, Framlingham.
During the 1980s, Framlingham Farmers saw lots of opportunities to benefit their members. The group recognised their new purpose and began incorporating a wider array of services that were likely to enhance farm profit.
To generate additional revenue, and support the Farm Cash and Carry business, staff within the organisation’s buying division created Framtrade. In 1986 it was registered as a separate company and Framtrade Ltd. was born.
By 1990, Framlingham Farmers was trading bird scaring devices and cylinder LPG to the agricultural sector. In 1995 it expanded further into the stockist and retail LPG market.
In 1998, they formed a pig group that is still going today. It has been organising overseas farm tours since 2001, including trips to Europe, China, USA, Brazil and Australia.
In 2005, Lewes Farmers, which operated in the southeast and southwest, were the first likeminded buying group to merge with Framlingham Farmers. Soon, other buying groups started to recognise the benefits of the cooperative and Framlingham Farmers merged with Sevenside Farmers, as well as other farming groups in the northwest region.
Framlingham Farmers’ biggest merge was in 2008 with a large buying group based in Essex and Cambridge called Atlas Agriculture (formally West Essex Farmers and Cambridge Farmers). Framlingham Farmers rebranded as Atlas Fram and the membership increased from 600 to 1,000.
In 2013 the business was growing, and Atlas Fram, as it was then known, was employing 32 members of staff and needed to move into larger premises. The group acquired new offices at Station Road, Framlingham.
In July 2014, the cooperative rebranded to Fram Farmers Ltd.
In 2015, Fram Farmers introduced an insurance and private health scheme for members.
Today, Fram Farmers has over 1400 members nationwide and supports every kind of farmer, from those working in large, commercial farming businesses to much smaller, family-run farms.
The group is constantly evolving and adapting to meet the changing needs of its members. Just this year, they developed a new input cost management scheme to help farm businesses overcome the inevitable spikes in cash flow that occur throughout the year, as well as launching the Fram Farmers Finance Scheme in May 2020.
Fram Farmers continues to operate as it did 60 years ago, keeping the farmer at its heart, as a true farmer-owned cooperative.