The members of FloraHolland agreed on new rates for the year 2018, at the General Members’ Meeting (GMM) last Thursday evening. When the members voted on the proposal during the meeting in Naaldwijk, 73.2 percent voted in favour and 26.8 percent against.
Future CEO Steven van Schilfgaarde introduced the vote with a presentation, during which he said that it’s exactly the right time to introduce new rates. According to Van Schilfgaarde, it’s in line with all of the current developments in the floricultural industry. “I am convinced that this rate proposal does justice to all of the prior discussions on the topic and that it offers the best opportunities for a continued succesful cooperative. With these new rates, we’re investing in a joint future. But it will only work, if all FloraHolland members remain on board.”
Van Schilfgaarde also gave a detailed overview of how parts of the tariff system were adjusted following certain input received from members after the recent regional meetings. One of the things that he pointed out was that FloraHolland will continue to strengthen the auction clock and that the introduction of a national clock is under way. One of the next steps, linking the clock to Floriday, is planned to happen before the summer. “We’ve got to reinvent the auctioning system in a new world, by nationwide auctioning for instance”, explained Van Schilfgaarde.
One of the consequences of the new tariff system is that the costs for supplying to the clock are going up. The costs for members with lots of direct sales on the other hand, are going down. And on average, it will also become slightly cheaper for non-members to sell through FloraHolland.
Van Schilfgaarde added that FloraHolland will evaluate the new tariff system in six months, to see if things are actually working out as intended. Various members indicated during the GMM that they had absolutely no faith in the new tariff system. Growers like Marius Duin and Paul Barendse referred to the new rates as ‘the bankruptcy of the auction’ and they called upon the Board of Directors to review the tariff system once more. Barendse asked all members to think of their cooperative solidarity and to ‘vote with their hearts, not with their wallets’.
A strong cooperative sometimes means making tough decisions, replied Van Schilfgaarde. He emphasised that all of the figures that underpin the new tariff system are correct and that he rejects the suggestion that FloraHolland consciously favours large suppliers over smaller suppliers. “Differentiation based on size as a way to keep the cooperative together, is a suggestion that evolved during earlier discussions between members.”
Goossens also spoke extensively about the new tariff system in his opening speech. “It’s a complex topic, which has been discussed in three different rounds, during forty sessions, by more than 750 members. You can agree or disagree with the new rates, but don’t tell me you didn’t get to have a say in it.”
And still, said Goossens, the vote at the GMM is somewhat like a lottery. “Because not all members are able to attend this meeting. That’s a big risk for a large organisation like FloraHolland.”
Following on to that, Goossens made a plea for the introduction of a Members’ Council, which will be initiated next year. He expects that a Members’ Council proposal will be on the agenda of the next GMM in May. He strongly encouraged all members to be actively involved in the cooperative. “Get in from the very start and let your voice be heard. The developments regarding the tariff system show that members do have something to say. If they choose to be involved, members can have influence. But when the directors present a final proposal at the GMM, you’re too late.”