By Lisa Turner, 2004 MOFGA President
At this year’s annual meeting on Tuesday, January 11, 2005, at 11 a.m., at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show in Augusta, MOFGA will consider proposed changes to its Bylaws. The proposed changes are included in this issue of The MOF&G for you to review. The Bylaws are essentially a contract between the membership and the Board – basically members agree to allow the Board to run the organization for the membership, assuming that the Board will follow the rules agreed to in the Bylaws. It is important for you, the members, to review the proposed changes and to come to the annual meeting ready to discuss them, to propose alternative changes, and to ultimately vote for or against any proposed changes.
The Board believes that the proposed changes are necessary to continue to run MOFGA now. The bylaws, as originally written, have had only minor modifications over the years. In fact, most of the modifications now proposed are fairly minor, and most simply update the Bylaws to match the way MOFGA currently exists. Some are simply grammatical corrections or clarifications; other, more substantive proposed changes are explained in this letter. You can refer to the Bylaws on page 42 [of the printed edition] to follow along. At the annual meeting, we will consider and vote on the changes Article by Article.
Article III: Updates the list of groups to not discriminate against to include color, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation and marital status. This matches the list in MOFGA’s Personnel Policy. Also, a business membership was added several years ago, but was never added to the list of membership classes in the Bylaws.
Article IV. Section 1: Requires that the Board approve the annual budget, which all Boards should do and the MOFGA Board always does, but which the Bylaws do not include in the list of responsibilities of Board members.
Section 2: Enables a chapter and committees to appoint a member to serve on the Board more easily; and requires that the committee elect rather than appoint a representative to the Board;
Clarifies that the Fair Steering Committee has two members on the Board and at least one on the Fair Steering Committee. This increases the Fair Steering Committee’s representation on the Board from the one member previously required, recognizing the importance of the Fair to the organization;
Clarifies the role of the nominating committee and prescribes that any member may be nominated in addition to or instead of anyone proposed by the nominating committee;
Determines the number of members at large on the Board by subtracting the number of officers and chapter and committee representatives from a total 14 to 27 Board members;
Removes designation for area contact persons, as we have none.
Section 3: Changes “regularly paid” to “paid to provide staff functions” to describe those who may not be Board members. Some Board members are paid by MOFGA to provide goods to the organization or perform non-staff functions, such as mentoring a journeyperson or consulting on computer problems.
Section 5: Allows the Board to meet every four rather than three months. The Board currently meets six times per year, but would prefer sometimes to meet more in the winter and less in the summer.
Section 6: Requires a quorum be present to take action. As written currently, if six members meet and agree to an action, they can take action on behalf of a Board of 21 members.
Article VI. Section 1: Currently, any MOFGA member can be a member of any committee, with no restrictions. This change allows committee membership only to members who are invited to join a committee by the committee chairperson. The committee chairperson is in turn approved by the Board, ultimately giving much more control of committee membership to the Board than in the current situation;
Enables the committee to nominate a chairperson for approval by the Board, rather than having the Board simply appoint the chairperson. Also requires a written rather than verbal report by the committee to the Board.
Section 2: Changes the Certification Committee to an Agricultural Services Committee. Certification is now handled by MOFGA Certification Services, LLC, and cannot, by federal law, be subject to the will of the Board;
Ties the public policy committee’s work to the mission statement, rather than restating a mission;
Removes the requirement that chapter representatives be on the nominating committee. MOFGA does not have a strong chapter structure now, and this change allows interested Board members to serve on the nominating committee;
Article VII: Enables Economic Sector Chapters to form, so that farmers engaged in a particular type of farming can organize to meet their needs within MOFGA;
Article VIII: Matches the language in the Bylaws with regard to the Executive Director and the staffing structure with the language that the Board approved for the Personnel Policy.
I hope this helps you understand the proposed changes. I look forward to seeing you at the annual meeting.