“It’s best to embrace change and adapt”

The Netherlands is a country of cooperatives, as the demissionary Minister of Agriculture Piet Adema knows, it has become large in many areas thanks to that. After all, a cooperative delves deep and seeks the common interest, and ornamental horticulture is one of those groups that has been doing it like no other for a century.

Outgoing Minister Piet Adema on the future of horticulture

The Day of the Cooperative is also the Celebration of the Cooperative. Nevertheless, the Minister shared some criticism at the meeting yesterday in Aalsmeer. This was especially with regards to ‘ sustainability and, in particular, the use and reduction of crop protection agents were discussed. There are challenges here, which are closely related to public perception, and “we” should learn to navigate them better. This resonated with Jan van Dam (CEO DFG), Adri-Bom Lemstra (chairman of Glastuinbouw Nederland), and Carolien Tesselaar (grower, member of the members’ council, and substitute for the even more famous Caroline, the one from the BBB, who had to come before Plasterk at the last minute), each recognizing these challenges from their own roles.

The panel discussion

Before the afternoon, the Members’ Meeting took place, with a focus on departing Chairman of the Supervisory Board Jack Goosens. Reflecting on his tenure, Jack is reminded of Bob Dylan’s classic, “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” Whether you like it or not, and whether it’s too fast or much too fast, it’s best to embrace change and adapt. ‘Change’ is seen as the common thread of his office term, and his successor, Evert van Helvoort, should be prepared for it.

Resigned chairman of the Supervisory Board Jack Goossens is addressed by Steven van Schilfgaarde

In a brief speech by CEO Steven van Schilfgaarde, he also recalled all the changes of recent years. Of course, there was the administrative shift from the General Assembly to Members’ Council, the acquisition of FloraXchange, and the development of Floriday, the opposition this raised among some members leading to an extra General Assembly, etc. One of the points, the discussion about “mandatory” certification, is not yet resolved. According to Steven and the aforementioned panelists, it must happen (and sustainability itself will be ‘the theme of the coming years’), but as known, not everyone is equally enthusiastic about it.

Ben van der Burg tells his story

Following the panel discussion, there was a presentation by former professional speed skater and director of Triple IT Ben van der Burg, whose father was once a grower in the Westland. The bottom line was that modern technology and automation have given us many more possibilities today than before, and one should not let themselves be driven crazy. Then, it was Annette van Soest’s turn to give a networking lesson to the predominantly older youth, after which they could rightfully go to the bar and buffet.