Royal FloraHolland - Members' Council Column: What are the feelings of the silent majority?

April 8, 2021
Royal floraholland columnjobvanegmond2

The emergency brake has been pulled. It was with a fresh dynamic that I took up my role in the Members' Council two years ago. The idea behind it is great: linking grower know-how to company professionalism. At first, it took some getting used to. After all, we still had to find our feet in our new roles. Where did we stand in relation to the Supervisory Board and the Management Board? How do we ensure that growers' input is reflected in policy? The second year was intended to be about continued growth and coming of age. And then came the coronavirus.

Our companies, our marketplace and the whole industry has found itself faced with extraordinary circumstances, and there is a great deal of uncertainty. The coronavirus has disrupted both growers themselves and our contact with one another. For example, previously we could talk to each other for three hours in real life meetings, and were also able to speak on a more informal basis. We would have a bite to eat together and could look each other in the eye. Now, with the coronavirus, contact has become difficult, with everything having to be done online.

When things get tense, discontent arises

In the meantime, many things have changed. The entire floriculture industry is in a state of flux, with this reflected in our marketplace. It is in this very place that all parties and interests come together. These interests aren't always the same and when things get tense, discontent arises. We can see this happening right now. Our cooperative had fallen behind. However, we are catching up fast and going faster than expected, which has elicited a reaction. The emergency brake has been pulled, and not just by members. No, several parties have initiated or signed the member petition. Growers, buyers, software suppliers - everyone has an interest.

As the Members' Council, we are faced with the task of handling this petition carefully and conducting proper member dialogue. We have therefore begun discussions with those growers who have signed the petition. We wanted to hear why they signed the petition, and what they see as the biggest problem. And what could be done better in the Members' Council. Many growers were interested in talking to us, which we are happy about. After all, we would rather speak to them in person than through a formal petition or through the media.

I certainly recognise the concerns that have been mentioned in the discussions. It isn't all plain sailing either, as there are legitimate concerns. For example, there still isn't enough support for environmental registration and Floriday has yet to be finished. Things have gone too fast, but this has been addressed and is currently the subject of intense efforts.

Envisaging our common future

What I also recognise is that growers are business people who prefer to do things their own way. I am like that too. However, we have all chosen to be one cooperative, and to stand strong together. We must therefore keep our common future in mind. We as growers. How do we ensure that we continue to earn a good living in this dynamic market? And that our customers prefer to do business with us through the cooperative? This is in the interest of all our members, big and small, young and old. Being in a cooperative also means that things won't always go the way you would like.

Sometimes it is quite difficult to think not just for yourself, but for 4,000 growers.

About 400 of these have signed the petition, and we have invited them for a meeting. This still leaves 3,500 other members who haven't signed, and we want to hear from them too!

Extra session for members who haven't signed the petition

We are therefore organising an extra member session on Monday 12 April. Just for members who haven't signed the petition. What do you think of the petition? Anyone who has something quite different to say can have their say here. This would be of benefit to the work of the Members' Council.

So: are you not among the signatories, or do you have a different point of view? If so, sign up by sending an email to: ledenraad@royalfloraholland.com We look forward to seeing you on 12 April at 7:00 pm.

Job van Egmond,
Member of Royal FloraHolland Members' Council