Presidents’ Mission

by Ghislain Gervais - président

Ultimately, the growing season wasn’t as catastrophic as we first believed. We took advantage of the season’s tardy start to invite La Coop fédérée’s Board of Directors and presidents of its member cooperatives to take part in a training mission with large French and German cooperatives. 

The mission, focusing on analyzing the governance and the activities of our European colleagues’ associative life, was part of the realization that our cooperative leaders must stay abreast of what’s going on in the world. Training and upgrading the skills of our cooperative leaders, those responsible for guiding us as we develop our procurement and marketing tools, can only benefit La Coop network in the medium to long term.

And what we witnessed met with our expectations. First, we need to emphasize the very warm welcome they gave each and every cooperative leader. The quality of the exchanges we shared and the transparency they demonstrated during these meetings was further evidence of the effortless understanding between Quebec and European agricultural cooperatives, but it was also evidence of their interest for what we do here in Quebec.

Several cooperative presidents also reiterated their gratitude for these exchanges and contact with their Quebec colleagues throughout the trip. What did cooperative leaders observe during this journey?

The general opinion was that the issues and challenges defined in the framework of the Vision 2020 process are indeed shared by every cooperative involved.  

All of these questions were raised by the stakeholders, from consolidating our national and international competitors, the growing size of our members’ operations which translates into different requirements, to the difficulty of meeting the challenges of digital farming in a two-tier system and encouraging greater participation in governing our organisations.

In one way, it’s reassuring to see that our perception of the situation and the issues involved in the progression of our cooperatives are similar for Europe and Quebec, and the vast majority of cooperative presidents felt reassured by the solutions put forward by Vision 2020 to meet these challenges.  

One of the leaders we met even suggested that, in his opinion, the ideal model to deal with these issues would be two-tier marketing using a single process, which corresponds exactly to the spirit of why Vision 2020 was implemented.

La Coop network is currently involved in an unprecedented process of consolidation aimed at attaining the critical mass required to face these challenges. To consolidate our cooperative businesses in a harmonious fashion that will not inconvenience any one is an incredible challenge to carry out.

However, consolidation on its own doesn’t resolve the issues of standardisation, specialisation and inter-cooperation required to meet the performance challenges defined by the leaders of La Coop network.

That’s why there was a strong consensus among attending cooperative presidents to ensure a close monitoring of La Coop network’s consolidation as partnerships are implemented with La Coop fédérée as part of the Vision 2020 framework.

The challenge of Vision 2020 is in the leaders’ capacity to carry out the process until the end, because an unfinished reform could lead to the slow decline of our organisations.

Wishing you all a good harvest!