Building a cooperative close to its adherents: a focus for a long-term relationship and for continuous improvement on the quality of the fibers.
The close relationship between the farmers and the cooperative contributes to building a confidence relationship with them.
So as to make this article, we interviewed 4 farmers, from different production sites of TERRE DE LIN, two of them coming from the Eure area, which is the furthest production site from our main scotching mill of Saint-Pierre-le-Viger. We also interviewed Sébastien VANDENBULCKE, production manager in charge of the 6 scutching mills of TERRE DE LIN, that are based in the Seine Maritime and in the Eure area .
4 farmers talk about their relationship with the cooperative :
Intalled for a long time as a farmer, Mr HOFMANN had stopped growing flax. He then re-started to grow flax 7-8 years ago, flax prices being at that time attractive enough, after a period when flax prices had decreased a lot and could not guarantee the profitability of the culture.
«Flax is a technical culture, which requires a lot of personal involvement from the farmer, exactly like when you grow apples as I do it in my farm. The advice given by TERRE DE LIN that I get either via sms or e-mail during the 100 days culture cycle is very much welcome. This information and alerts allow me to anticipate on my flax culture. So do the individual advice that I get from my TERRE DE LIN technical adviser: those information are a support for me when I have to make my own decisions.
Mr SELLIER, who delivers his flax straw on the Douvrend scutching mill, in the Seine-Maritime area, also appreciates the advice given by the technical advisers of TERRE DE LIN: the cooperative carefully chooses its technical people. They are always present when I need a piece of advice, starting from the choice of the adapted variety, until supporting me to make my decision to harvest or to help me to target how to improve my cultural practices. You learn how to grow flax with experience: I learnt how to grow flax together with my grand-father and father. In the same way, the cooperative needs to train its technical support team : the young technical advisers work together with an experienced person in the team. Stéphane Vasselin, the manager of the technical team also follows the less experienced people of the team. I really appreciate this seriousness in each farmer’s follow-up.
« The link with the scutching mill is very important too, adds Mr COTTARD, a TERRE DE LIN farmer based in the Seine- Maritime. My farm stands 6 km from the scutching mill. This has been a strong argument when I started. I am alone in my farm. Thus I can easily drive to the scutching mill to get my seeds or deliver flax straw for scutching or bring a straw sample to the scutching mill to check if it is time to harvest or not. It helps a lot. »
Sébastien VANDENBULCKE, manager of all TERRE DE LIN production sites explains in this respect that having the scutching mills close to the farms is a major advantage not only for the farmers but also for the cooperative: « Scutching a lot when you have information on the culture steps is easier: it helps us to adapt to each lot and to optimize the scutching .
We recently started to send a message to each farmer when we start to scutch his lot : this motivates the farmer to come to the scutching mill to see how his own lot is scutched. It very often allows to identify with the farmer some improvement levers on how flax is rolled up, or on other parameters that also allow to improve the scutching of the lots. The cooperative encourages the dialogue with its farmers so as to improve continuously together.»
The cooperative encourages the dialogue with its farmers so as to improve continuously together.
The dialogue between the cooperative and the farmers is not limited to technical topics: Mr SAMAIN, another TERRE DE LIN adherent from the Eure region insists on the fact that the cooperative really focuses on a close relationship with its farmer adherents: meetings are organized once to twice a year close to each scutching mill together with the TERRE DE LIN top management and representative administrators: during these meetings, technical topics as well as management topics such as the marketing issues linked to the flax market are handled. “The relationship between TERRE DE LIN and its farmer adherents is a confidence relationship. The farmers are regularly informed, either on the way they are paid or on the markets evolution. This concern for a transparent information is the basis for a sustainable relationship between the farmers and the cooperative”.
“The relationship between TERRE DE LIN and its farmer adherents is a confidence relationship. This concern for a transparent information is the basis for a sustainable relationship between the farmers and the cooperative”