The Annual Meeting of the General Membership of the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association will be held on Wednesday, January 29, at 11:30 a.m. in the Crystal Room of the Hershey Lodge in Hershey.  All members are asked to attend the meeting.

Traditionally, the Annual Meeting had included the election of members of the Board of Directors.  However, starting seven years ago, the Directors are now elected by a mail ballot which all members have received in the mail with their dues renewal notices.  The terms of Christopher Harner, David Miller, Kenneth Martin, Christopher Powell, Rita Resick, John Shenk and Jeffrey Stoltzfus expire at the Annual Meeting this year.  Mr. Martin and Mr. Miller have reached the 18-year term limit for serving on the Board but the rest of the incumbents are eligible for re-election. The Leadership and Recognition Committee has nominated all the eligible incumbents plus Joel Kosa of Ulysses, Joel Weaver of Windber, and Adam Voll of Wexford for election.  Write-in votes are also allowed.  Five of the candidates will be elected to three-year terms on the Board of Directors by the members.  Ballots must be postmarked by January 15, 2020 and the results will be announced at the Annual Meeting.  All members are urged to vote in the election.  

Two years ago the members approved changes to the Association’s constitution to allow the Board to appoint one director to a three-year term each year.  When the mail-ballot election system was instituted the Leadership and Recognition Committee adopted the practice of nominating several more candidates than seats available.  Obviously, the vote of the members determines who is elected but the results may result in certain groups (such as potato growers, processing growers, berry growers, women, etc.) or areas of the state not being represented on the Board.  Thus after the results from the member balloting are determined, the Board selects an additional Board member to help insure the diversity of the Board.  Implementing this system two years ago resulted in the Board of Directors having 21 members for 2018 because the members elected six members and the Board appointed a seventh.  Beginning with 2019 only five Directors were elected by the membership so that over a three-year period, the number of Directors will gradually return to 18.

Over the past several years, as a result of the strategic planning initiative in 2014, the Capacity Development Committee has been working to enable the Association to expand its staff capacity to serve Pennsylvania growers.  One of the changes they have been working on is changing the tax status of the Association from a 501(c)5 agricultural non-profit to a 501(c)3 charitable educational non-profit organization.  That would make the Association eligible for certain grants it is currently not eligible for and also make contributions or bequests from members tax-deductible.  Last year the members approved changes to the Constitution (which including changing the name of that document to Bylaws) to allow the transition to the 501(c)3 status and this summer at special meeting approved amendments to the Articles of Incorporation.  We have since learned that several changes need to be made to the Bylaws to be consistent with the Articles of Incorporation and otherwise make some updates.  These proposed changes are as follows:

Article I Name

Section 1 The name by which this organization shall be known is The “Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers’ Association” (hereafter referred as the “Association” or “Corporation”).

Section 2 The Association shall be incorporated as a non-profit corporation and operated exclusively for charitable, educational and scientific purposes consistent the Internal Revenue Service requirements for a 501(c)3 organization with offices at a location determined by the Board of Directors.

Article II Purpose

Section 1 To unite in common organization those engaged in the production, handling or processing of Pennsylvania grown vegetables and small fruits and of others whose business welfare depends at least partially upon the economic efficiency of the Pennsylvania vegetable and small fruit industries.

Section 2 To provide educational opportunities, information and materials to keep members of the vegetable and small fruit industries abreast of the latest developments.

Section 3 To promote the vegetable and small fruit industries of the Commonwealth and their products in whatever way possible.

Section 4 To encourage and support vegetable and small fruit research to increase the profitability of the industries.

Section 5 To represent the interests of the vegetable and small fruit industries to the public and government officials although no substantial part of the activities of the Association shall involve attempting to influence legislation.

Section 6 To engage in any other activities that will benefit the vegetable and small fruit industries.

The purposes of the Association are as provided in the Articles of Incorporation.

Article III Membership

Section 1 Any person or organization covered by Article II, Section 1, with an interest in the purposes of the Association as stated in Article II may become a member by payment of an annual dues. Memberships expire on the day of the next annual meeting unless renewed.

Section 2 Dues and membership classification are to be determined by the Board of Directors and included in the Standing Rules.

Section 3 Each member shall be entitled to one vote in transacting business at any association meeting. The Board of Directors may authorize certain classes of associate members to vote.

Article VII Other Committees and Task Forces

Section 3 The President shall appoint the members of all committees and task forces at the beginning of his or her term of office.  The Executive Director shall appoint the members of the committees and task forces unless the Board provides otherwise in the Standing Rules.

Section 4 When committees are empowered by the Board to make final decisions on matters,  a A simple majority of the number of the appointed members of a committee or task force present at any meeting shall constitute a quorum and questions shall be carried by simple majority of those present. The members of a given committee may be polled by telephone or mail on specific issues or questions, in which case a majority of the total number of appointed members shall be necessary to carry a question.  When committees are simply preparing recommendations for the Board, quorums will not be necessary.

Article VIII Association Meetings

Section 1 The annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers’ Association shall be held each winter in conjunction with an annual educational conference at such time and place as the Board of Directors shall determine.

Section 2 The order of business at agenda at the annual meeting shall be include:

              (1) Proof of notice of the meeting

              (2) Reading and disposal of minutes

              (3) Annual reports of officers and committees

              (4) Election of directors Announcement of director election results

              (5) Unfinished business

              (6) Review of Policy Resolutions

              (7) New business

              (8) Adjournment

Section 3 A summer field day, tour or educational meeting shall be held each year at such time and place as may be designated by the Board of Directors.

Section 4 3 Special meetings of the Association may be called by the Board of Directors.

Section 5 4 Members shall be given 15 days notice by mail of all meetings of the Association. The notice shall include an agenda of all major items of business expected to be acted upon and the text of any policy or major resolutions.

Section 6 5 Twenty-five members or two-thirds of the Board of Directors shall constitute a quorum at all meetings of the Association.

Article XII  Dissolution

Section 1 In the event of the merger or dissolution of the Association for any reason, all money and securities or other property of whatsoever nature which at the time be owned or under the absolute control of the Association shall be distributed at the discretion of the Board of Directors, or such other persons as shall be charged by law with the liquidation or winding up of the Association and its affairs, to an organization of its choosing which is exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code, ideally one that has some relation to the agricultural/horticultural purposes for which the Association was originally organized.

In the event of the liquidation, dissolution, or winding up of this Corporation, the assets or property of the Corporation shall be distributed as outlined in the Articles of Incorporation.

Article XV Amendments

Section 1 The Bylaws of this Association may be amended by a two-thirds vote of the members present at any annual or special meeting provided that notice of such proposed amendment is included in the call for this meeting.

At the Annual Meeting, the members will also receive reports on membership, finances, the Farm Show food booth and the other activities of the Association.

The following additions to the Association’s policy resolutions are being proposed for adoption by the members at the Annual Meeting.  The underlined text is to be added to the resolutions.

The Association is on record as:

State Resolutions

  1. Urging the Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Committee to actively inform growers of the differences between “Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins” and “Howden pumpkins” for the purposes of reporting their pumpkin acreages to FSA and to explain the possible consequences of how they report their pumpkin acreages.
  2. Opposing the closing of Regional Department of Agriculture Offices.
  3. Supporting online enrollment or reenrollment of lands for DMAP and Red Tag programs.
  4. Supporting the increase of Red Tag and DMAP permits to 4 per hunter per property enrolled in the respective programs.
  5. Supporting a requirement for PennDOT to notify CDL drivers and commercial truck owners of Spotted Lanternfly regulations and penalties with their license and registration renewal.
  6. Supporting a 50-mile radius of operation from the farmer’s farm(s) for farm vehicles with the Type B and Type C biennial certification of exemption.
  7. Supporting research funding on the effect of new insecticides, seed treatments and diseases on honeybees.
  8. Supporting the exemption of H-2A workers’ wages from state unemployment contributions.
  9. Supporting the state funding of the review of any mandated DEP permit instead of by the permit holder.
  10. Supporting the elimination of all permit fees for farmers to repair or replace non-public agricultural culverts, pipes or bridges.
  11. Supporting a requirement for government agencies and authorities levying Stormwater Management Fees to offer  offsetting credits to those fees for the following: a) Each acre of compliance under each of the following: an NRCS or County Conservation District approved Conservation Plan, an Erosion and Sediment Plan, an Act 38 Nutrient Management Plan, and/or an implemented NRCS Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan. b) Each approved Manure Management Plan. c) Erosion controlling structures including diversion ditches, grass waterways, stone waterways and terraces. d) NRCS or County Conservation District approved manure holding structures. e) Each acre of forested or wooded acres. f) Positive ratios of pervious to impervious areas.
  12. Opposing any fee, tax or ordinance based on stormwater runoff.

State and Federal Resolutions

  1. Supporting increased efforts by the state and federal governments to facilitate broadband internet access to all areas of the state.
  2. Supporting the exemption of Pennsylvania agriculture from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) requirements mandated under the Federal Clean Water Act, and the funding by the state of all mandated Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) implementation practices.
  3. Supporting the use of water quality monitoring in local watersheds for the verification of theoretical data in the Chesapeake Bay Model.
  4. Supporting the use of genetic engineering of potatoes and the modern, enhanced potato breeding methods that enable breeders to improve potato varieties much sooner than traditional breeding methods.

Federal Resolutions

  1. Supporting farm labor reform to ensure growers with access to an adequate legal labor force but opposing the Farm Workforce Modernization Act in the form passed by the House of Representatives.
  2. Supporting a requirement for the operator of the UAS to gain the written consent of the landowner and/or farm operator if the UAS will be operating above the landowner’s private property.
  3. Supporting a requirement by the U.S government, as part of the private-government relationship with the National Crop Insurance Services, (NCIS), that the NCIS Board of Directors include at least one active farmer from each of the five major geographical regions of the United States.