zondag 8 april 2012

Agrico

De blog van vandaag is in het Engels en een copy van een blog die ik op LinkedIn voor mijn eRNAC collegas maakte. Dit omdat het wederom zeer interessante nieuwe nummber van BoerENbusiness een artikel wijdde aan de gang van zaken bij Agrico. Handig voor ons Europese Cooperatieproject.

For those who do not read Dutch: In its last edition the Dutch farming journal BoerENbusiness reported on the drama with the Dutch potato cooperative Agrico. 185 arable farmersquit, 60 started a foundation to sue the cooperative for irrisponsible management. The CEO and the Chair of the Board have left the cooperative.

Agrico is more heterogeneous than you might think: producers of seed potatoes, table (ware) potatoes for retail and ware potatoes for the french fries industry (but no starch potatoes). The problem was the pool for french fries potatoes that declined from 9000 ha to 2500 (the story does not report why). It lost its countervailing power to the big (IOF) french fry industry (McCain, LambWeston, Dutch Farm Frites and Aviko). Members started to sell outside the pool. Seed and table potato producers started to see risks for them with all the attention of the management to this issue, guaranteeing minimum prices and enlarging the pool with 1/3 non-member (and even foreign) trade.

In the end Agrico decided to sell the pool and transfer its members to Aviko. Although Aviko is part of the cooperative sugar company Cosun (nearly all potato growers grow sugar beet for them, but not the other way around) and was created in the 1960s as a cooperative (and later merged into Cebeco from which it went to Cosun), it is run as an IOF. For a while it had a very intergrated supply chain with Agrico but that broke down in the 1990s.

What made farmers angry is that this was proposed in the mid of the selling season (January 1, 2010) and that farmers were not involved in the decision making. They had delegated decision making from the General Meeting to the Membership Council and their members had to sign a confidentially statement before being informed - without knowing that this was the subject of the decixion making (some thought it would be about a merger).

And so it ended up in court, no decision yet.

Thanks to BoerENbusiness for wrting this up - it is interesting stuff for cooperative researchers who are interested in internal governance and food chain issues.
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