Country Life in BC

January 2019

Wave of retirements sweeps through dairy associations

Shift makes way for younger leaders to step up


VANCOUVER – The BC Milk Marketing Board is purchasing a cow for a vulnerable family in Uganda.

The BCMMB made the unusual move to recognize Dick Klein Geltink’s years of service to agriculture.

The Langley dairy farmer retired as a BCMMB director at the conclusion of the BC Dairy Conference, November 29. BCMMB chair Ben Janzen noted the Klein Geltink family has long supported the charity which co-ordinates the cow program and Klein Geltink had requested they make the purchase instead of giving him a retirement gift.

Although Klein Geltink only served as a BCMMB director for the past six years, he has spent several decades in BC dairy and agricultural politics. He spent many years as a director of the Mainland Milk Producers Association and served as chair of both the BC Milk Producers Association and the BC Agriculture Council for several years.

In accepting the recognition, Klein Geltink thanked all the people he worked with over the years and referenced his ability to respect and work with many different points of view.

“I don’t think I’ve burnt any bridges,” he said to a round of applause.

Musical chairs

Klein Geltink’s retirement sparked a game of musical chairs. Surrey dairyman David Janssens was elected by acclamation to replace him on the BCMMB board. After his acclamation, Janssens resigned as BC’s director on Dairy Farmers of Canada, turning over that role to David Taylor of Courtenay. Taylor then resigned as president of BC Dairy Association at the conclusion of the BCDA annual meeting, November 30. Taking over as BCDA president is Holger Schwichtenberg of Agassiz. Schwichtenberg has been president of Mainland Milk Producers for the past two years but will give up that position at the MMP annual meeting, January 11.

Klein Geltink was not the only long-time dairy politician to call it a day. Also making a graceful exit into retirement was Louis Schurmann of Abbotsford.

Schurmann’s involvement goes back to the 1980s when Fraser Valley Milk Producers Association members and independent milk producers had separate dairy organizations. He also spent three years as a BCMMB director. Most recently, he had been serving as an at-large director of the BCDA.

“I served with a lot of board members over the years,” Schurmann said. “We always had good discussions and made good decisions. Our industry is strong and it’s a credit and an asset to many BC communities.”

Winning a three-way race to replace Schurmann as the BCDA at-large director is Sarah Sache of Rosedale. An urbanite who married into a farm family, Sache brings a much-needed fresh young female perspective to the BCDA.

Taylor called Sache, and all the young producers in the room, “the future of the industry.”

“We need that energy,” he said.