COOP 2.0

by Ghislain Gervais - président

In spite of the title, I won’t be talking about the digital revolution knocking at agriculture’s door! However, considering this summer’s bad weather, we need all the help science can provide to help us meet the daily challenges of producing food in a climate environment that is increasingly erratic.   

What I do want to talk about is the expression 2.0, which has become part of our everyday speech and usually refers to an improved version of a product or service. They say that the Web 2.0 fostered greater communication between users and the creation of social networks; well, that’s kind of what we want to do with La Coop’s network.

Last year on this day La Coop fédérée’s board of directiors reported on the mandate given to them by the network of affiliated cooperatives as it came out of the strategic planning it undertook the previous year.

The mandate consisted of proposing a means that would lead to the orderly reorganization and consolidation of member cooperatives, a means that would lead to a revision of La Coop fédérée’s business model.

The world of farm services is consolidating at breakneck speed, and climate change is not the only issue we need to deal with in this context, cooperatives have to review their ways to remain credible partners and relevant to our farms.

Last year, I had the opportunity to explain to you the context and the nature of the proposed changes, but I believe that it’s appropriate to inform you of how your network’s transformation has evolved. 

Vision 2020 is the result of a wide-ranging consultation of the network’s instances, and its introduction was well received during the 2016 quarterly meeting.

To step out of your comfort zone to reinvent yourself and accept the risks associated to change requires a lot of courage. But doing business also means taking risks, business administrators need to evaluate these risks to take advantage of their benefits.

This year, your administrators and leaders have clearly demonstrated that they were ready to take on this challenge. We took the time to review this transformation during the recent quarterly meeting and we couldn’t help but realize that La Coop’s network is going forward.

Nowadays, almost every cooperative in the network has subscribed to the Vision 2020 we introduced last year and are currently in negotiations with neighbouring cooperatives.

Three large cooperative associations should be seeing the light in 2018, and the implementation of a pilot project to establish a new partnership model between La Coop fédérée and its consolidated cooperatives, a model that will allow all of the entities to operate according to a one-step model, is moving steadily forward.

Courage, determination and patience, we’re going to need a lot to ensure the project of reorganising the network’s cooperatives reaches fruition. But I know that we can count on your understanding since the reform is all about serving you better.

Such a wide-scale reorganisation will demand a review of how La Coop fédérée and its affiliated cooperatives are governed. A committee of wise men and women comprised of La Coop network’s president and vice presidents is already working with La Coop fédérée’s board of directors as it reflects on this reform. 

It now seems obvious that, with cooperative structures that will now be involved in an environment that encompasses several regions; the issue of member proximity will be a significant challenge.

Agropur and Citadelle were able to introduce a type of governance that was adapted to their national and provincial realities, and I am convinced that La Coop’s network will do the same, to maintain this essential relationship that has united agricultural entrepreneurs and their cooperatives for nearly 100 years.

Enjoy the last few days of summer!