The PVGA Board of Directors held their “fall” meeting on Tuesday, December 7, at Toftrees Resort in State College. This meeting is preceded by meetings of the various PVGA committees which make recommendations to the Board for the Association’s activities for the coming year.
For several years these committee meetings were held in-person the day before the Director’s meeting but like last year, this year the committee meetings were all held virtually the week before. While last year they were held virtually due to concerns about the pandemic, this year the Board decided to hold the committee meetings virtually simply to save money. Since the Association pays the mileage for the Committee members and the two-day format requires the Board members to stay overnight in State College. It becomes a considerable expense for the Association.
The Board approved the Executive Committee’s recommendation to increase the annual dues to $70 (or $75 if paid after the Convention) in view of increased costs that the Association will be facing. This is the first time the dues have been increased in 15 years. Associate members dues were increased to $40 and Keystone Member suggested dues were increased by $25.
The financial reports showed that income and expense are projected to be lower than budgeted for the year. The 2021 budget included a $71,000 deficit and the projected deficit could be more than that.
It was noted that Dr. Shelby Fleischer will be retiring as the vegetable extension entomologist at Penn State at the end of the year. PVGA will need to encourage Penn State administrators to fill this position as currently it is not slated to be immediately filled. In the past the Association was successful in urging administrators to fill a vacant vegetable research position in the Plant Science Department by offering a $25,000 contribution toward the “start-up” cost for the researcher to set up their research program. It may be necessary to do that again in this case.
Another major issue of discussion at the meeting was the upcoming retirement of Executive Director William Troxell at the end of 2023. The Succession Planning Committee is recommending that the Association look to hire his replacement in late 2022 to allow for a year of training and transition. That too will be an added expense for the Association. The Succession Committee has prepared announcements and a job description for the position and recommended that Search Committee be named to review the applications received.
While the Association is projected to end the year with a General Fund balance of about $190,000, this year proved the value of having substantial reserves in the treasury. The Association was able to use about $70,000 to $80,000 of its reserves to maintain operations despite the loss of the all the Farm Show Booth income and much of the Convention income. Whether the Association will be able to have a surplus in 2022 will depend on a successful Farm Show Booth and well-attended Convention – neither of which is guaranteed.
To increase the amount of money available for research, the Board voted to again request members to consider making an extra donation for vegetable or small fruit research.
The Strategic Planning Committee asked to suspend its activities until a new Executive Director is named. The Committee led by Robert Amsterdam had led the effort to transition the Association from a 501(c)5 agricultural organization to a 501(c)3 charitable organization. This summer the Association was notified unofficially that the Internal Revenue Service would not be approving this change. Consequently, the Committee and Executive Committee decided to withdraw the application. If the Association would decide to apply again, the absence of an official denial would be helpful. The IRS recommended that the Association consider forming a separate subsidiary organization to apply for 501(c)3 status.
The Leadership and Recognition Committee announced that the nominees for the five Director positions up for election by the members will be the six incumbent Directors: Tina Forry, Barron Hetherington, Alan Kemmerer, William Reynolds, Robert Shenot and Jonathan Strite. The Committee also made recommendations for the Annual Award and Life Memberships which will be announced at the Mid-Atlantic Convention.
The Scholarship Committee announced they are considering scholarship for three applicants. In view of the increased tuition costs, the Board approved using all the interest from the Keystone Fund for scholarships beginning in 2022. Currently only $2,000 of the approximately $4,000 in annual interest is allocated for scholarships and the rest for research.
The Administrative Committee presented a draft budget for 2022 which included $10,000 for “start-up” funds for the extension entomologist position. While it is hoped that membership will rebound in 2022 with the return of an in-person convention, they are exploring different ideas to help increase membership. They recommended the Association offer growers who have never been members a two-year membership for the price of one-year.
The Farm Show Food Booth Committee is preparing for the 2022 Farm Show. Veggie burgers and corndogs will be added to the menu.
The Educational Committee recommended maintaining the current educational activities along with vegetable IPM information from Penn State to the website and possibly retail price reports.
The Government Affairs Committee recommended that the Association maintain its membership in the Pennsylvania Agricultural Alliance and the United Fresh Produce Association, the latter of which will become the International Fresh Produce Association on January 1. They also recommended 17 additions to the Association’s Policy Resolutions. They are outlined in the separate article on the Annual Meeting where the resolutions will be considered by the members.
The Board adopted the following legislative priorities for 2022:
- Elimination of unemployment compensation fees for H-2A workers.
- Adequate agricultural research and extension funding.
- Relaxed stormwater management requirement for high tunnels.
- Reduction of stormwater fees for farmland.
- Increased broadband internet access in rural areas.
- Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program funding.
- Coordination of the state Business Depreciation Deduction Limit with the federal limit.
- Immigration and farm labor reform.
- Reform of the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System regulations.
- Reasonable water use and produce traceability Food Safety Modernization Act rules for small growers.
- Continued Specialty Crop funding.
- Adequate agricultural research and extension funding.
- Continued nutrition program funding.
- Reasonable cost healthcare options for the self-employed and small employers.
- Inheritance tax elimination or at least maintenance of the current exemption levels.
- Maintenance of the Business Depreciation Deduction Limit at $500,000.
The Board received reports from the Vegetable Promotion, Vegetable Research, Potato, Berry, Simply Sweet Onion and Penn State Liaison Committees. They also approved the following donations and sponsorships for 2022:
- Farm Show Reception Sponsorship – $500
- Ag In The Classroom Program – $500
- Ag Science Education Mobile Lab – $500
- Capitol Hunger Garden – $200
- Delaware Valley College A-Day Program Ad – $125
- Ag Progress Days Booth – $550
- Farm-City Day Vegetables – + $50
- Farm Show Vegetable Day Cooking Demos – $1,650
- Farm Show Public Officials Day – $500
- Keystone Cornucopia Reception – $200
- Ag Council Research Tour for Legislators – $100
- Farm Show Livestock Sale – +$100
- Farm Show Bus Transportation – +$300
- Farm Show Food Court Table Cleaning – +$600
- Farm Show Visitor’s Guide Advertisement – $875
- Convention Banquet Sponsorship – $500
- Convention Ice Cream Social – $800 to $1,100
The Board’s next meeting will be January 31, 2022, in Hershey prior to the Mid-Atlantic Convention.