Agricultural markets & farming have changed considerably over the last decades across Europe and agricultural production faces more & more social & environmental challenges. Family farms are a central element of EU agricultural policy & the viability of many family farms is under threat. For example, only 37% of Irish farms are considered as economically viable; 31% are sustainable due to the presence of off-farm income; 32% are economically vulnerable (Teagasc). Cooperation provides opportunities to secure the future of these farms. In a submission to the Irish RDP, UCD, stated that the difficulties facing agriculture in Ireland include small farm size (average size 33 ha.), fragmentation of landholdings (28% of farms have 5 or more land parcels), ageing farm population (average age 56 years) & lack of new entrants (6.2% less than 35 years). Co-operative farming is seen as one possible way to overcome some of these constraints to growth though it is not widely practiced in Ireland & at the present time.