APRIL 5, 2000
WAYFARER INN, BEDFORD, NH
Commission Members in Attendance:
CT: Shirley Ferris, Robert Jacquier, Mae Schmidle.
MA: Mary Kassler, Charlie Arbing, Jim Hines.
ME: Fred Hardy, Colon Durrell, Stanley Millay.
NH: Doug Morris, Debora Erb, Powell Cabot.
RI: Ron Newman, Al Bettencourt Jr., Aaron Briggs, Peter Petrone, Jametta Alston.
VT: Bobby Starr, Harold Howrigan, Andy Dykstra, Millicent Rooney, Jacques Couture.
Ex Officio Members Present:
Leon Graves, Commissioner, Vermont Department of Agriculture, Foods and Markets.
Commission Staff Present:
Kenneth Becker, Executive Director; Dixie Henry, General Counsel; Carmen Ross, Regulations Administrator; David Ferch, Public Information Director; and Patricia Lammott, Temporary Office Assistant.
Vice Chair Mae Schmidle called the meeting to order at 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday, April 5, 2000.
Introduction of Guests:
Two new commissioners were introduced: Stanley Millay of Maine and Jametta Alston of Rhode Island.
Consideration of Minutes:
Mr. Hardy said that motion 3/1-3 failed to include the designation of “Class 1” in reference to the Federal Milk Market Order price. He moved to adopt the minutes with this correction.
Moved that the minutes as corrected be adopted.
Consideration of Communications:
Mrs. Schmidle read an email message from Maine Commissioner of Agriculture Robert Spear notifying the Commission that Fred Hardy is named to Committee on Administration in Linda Dyer’s absence.
Financial and Budget reports for the months ending January and February:
Mr. Cabot said the Finance Committee met by phone and recommends the Commission approve the payment of the Market Administrator’s bill.
Mr. Cabot said the accountants have added a designation on the balance sheet regarding the money sent back to Maine.
Mr. Starr asked about the surplus account and the Commission’s ability to waive an administrative assessment if warranted. Mr. Cabot said the Finance Committee will review the matter.
Mr. Cabot said he would like to propose a one-page presentation formatting change to the financial documents.
Ms. Alston asked about the year-to-year and month-to-month reports and the accountant’s statement regarding compilation of financial materials.
Mr. Becker said the formatting change could be readily prepared for a cost. He indicated that the annual audited financial statements are annotated while the monthly compiled statements are not.
Mrs. Schmidle said the Committee on Administration met and discussed the acquisition of insurance, anti-Compact legislation being introduced in Massachusetts, and the New York State Dairy Foods Association case.
Executive Director’s Report:
Mr. Becker discussed the producer referendum on the proposed technical corrections to the Compact regulations, the acquisition of an insurance policy for the Commission and progress on reports by the auditors and accountants.
The March pool for $6.9 million was disbursed. The Over-Order Obligation was $2.98 and the Over-Order Producer Price was $1.29.
Mr. Becker said he attended the annual meeting of Massachusetts Cooperative Milk Producers Federation the preceding week.
Mr. Becker said that in response to a previously reported communication from USDA he is preparing an analysis for review by the regulations and rulemaking committee and the Commission for submission to the USDA regarding the CCC.
Mr. Becker also said General Counsel Henry and the attorneys from Wiley, Rein and Fielding submitted a brief in the New York State Dairy Foods Association case to the Supreme Court on Friday.
Mr. Newman asked about the insurance policy. Mr. Becker said the Director’s and Officer’s policy is identical to previous policy except the premium and deductible are higher.
Mr. Arbing said he believes there will be no more lawsuits filed by processors. Mr. Arbing also said he believed the use or non-use of lawyers by the Commission is dependent on the recommendation of the General Counsel.
Ms. Alston expressed concerns about the new insurance policy.
Mr. Becker said the new policy covers any new claims of which the Commission has no current knowledge, while existing claims would continue to be covered by the prior carrier.
Mr. Starr asked if the Commission has enough money to cover the deductible.
Mr. Becker said the budget was crafted to take the eventuality into account.
Mr. Becker also discussed the process of securing the insurance policy.
Mr. Starr asked if the Commission had been kept apprised of the progress of the New York State Dairy Foods case.
Mr. Becker said the minutes of the March meeting reflect the issue has been discussed.
The Commissioners discussed the news segment on milk pricing that appeared on the Lehrer News Hour.
Mrs. Schmidle said she would like to see the Executive Director’s report put into writing.
Finance Committee Report:
Ms. Ferris said the Finance Committee should maintain the reserve fund with the potential of paying the deductible in mind.
Mr. Dykstra asked if the Commission could use reserve funds on reauthorization.
Mr. Becker said the
Compact does not provide for such a use and he would advise against it.
Committee on Administration:
Ms. Erb said the committee met on March 23rd. A memorandum provided to the Commission will be discussed later.
Committee on Regulations and Rulemaking:
Mr. Starr said the
committee has not met since last meeting. He said he has discussed the
testimony regarding the CCC with Mr. Becker. The committee will meet before
next meeting to discuss the CCC and to follow the public hearing being held
Bylaws Committee Recommendations:
Ms. Erb said a memorandum detailing proposed changes to the bylaws and the proposed personnel manual was given to the Commissioners. The Commissioners should review the proposals for discussion at the May meeting. If everyone agrees, the changes can be voted on then. If further changes are required, the adoption of the changes can be postponed another month.
Ms. Alston said there could be no conflict with the enacted bylaws and proposed personnel manual.
Ms. Kassler said many problems could be avoided by addressing potential problems in the bylaws, which would then clear the way to the adoption of the personnel manual.
Committee on Rules and Regulations:
Mr. Starr reported that in the producer referendum on the proposed technical corrections to the Compact regulation 3,982 ballots were mailed. 3,064 were returned of which 42 were disqualified. 3,022 ballots were cast, of which 3,015 were cast in favor of the changes. Seven ballots were cast in opposition. The results were signed March 21.
Ad Hoc Personnel
Mr. Petrone said the committee would meet in April and provide a report at the May meeting.
Moved that the Federal Milk Market Administrator’s Invoice – January 2000 Pool and Audits Completed During February be paid.
Moved to Accept the January and February 2000 Financial Statements and file for Audit Purposes.
Committee on Administration:
Mrs. Schmidle said there were no recommendations.
Committee on Regulations and Rulemaking:
Report from Massachusetts:
Mr. Hines said the state of Massachusetts has become aware of an attempt to file legislation to withdraw Massachusetts from the Compact. The proposed legislation includes a subsidy payment for the state’s farmers to come out of the general fund.
The Massachusetts Farm Bureau previously had a strong campaign, Save the Family Farm, which has been reactivated and will meet Friday. Commissioner of Agriculture Healy has been in touch with the governor who has offered strong support for Massachusetts’ continued role in the Compact.
Mr. Dykstra asked who is sponsoring Massachusetts’ withdrawal.
Mr. Hines said that International Dairy Foods Association appears to be behind the effort.
Mr. Starr offered whatever support might be appropriate.
Mr. Bettencourt asked about the procedure for withdrawing from the Compact. He was told that the state legislature must pass a bill repealing the enabling legislation and that it would then take effect a year later.
Mr. Becker said the Centennial Inn approached staff with a proposed contract. The Centennial Inn would reserve meeting space on the first Wednesday of each month from May through December. This would alleviate month-to-month planning. The contract would include a preferential discount.
Moved to Accept a Proposal from the Centennial Inn in Concord as our meetings place on the first Wednesday of every month through December 2000.
The Commissioners debated the merits of entering into a contract with the Centennial Inn.
Moved the previous question
Vote on Motion 4/5-3 to accept a Proposal from the Centennial Inn in Concord regarding the meeting place.
MOTION PASSED 6 TO
The meeting recessed for lunch at 12:25 a.m.
Following a public hearing at 1 p.m., the Commission returned to open session.
Ms. Alston asked about the Compact’s procedure in the event of a prolonged absence by the chair.
Mr. Starr said that if an officer is ill for extended period, that person takes it upon herself to resign and Commission moves forward with the established officer selection process.
Mr. Dykstra said the members of the audience had not been introduced.
At the request of
Mrs. Schmidle the members of the
audience introduced themselves. They included Susan Harlow, Pat Green,
Ellen Taggert, Pete Gregg, Jenny Nelson, Guy Choiniere, Jacques Rainville,
Steve Watous, Carl Peterson, Ray Christensen, Gail Christensen, Kay Zeosky, and
Mr. Briggs said a Rhode Islander made Hoard’s Dairyman Round Table, a notable distinction.
Ms. Ferris said a Connecticut farmer was a JC Young Farmer national winner.
Ms. Ferris said she would offer a motion to go into executive session and added that she is obligated to alert the subject because the subject of the executive session has the right to attend the session.
Mrs. Schmidle read bylaws as to what grounds could be used to call an executive session.
While Ms. Ferris reviewed the bylaws, Mr. Graves gave a report of Compact authorization efforts.
Mr. Howrigan said a bill has been introduced in the Senate to kill the Compact.
Mr. Arbing asked about New York’s role in the authorization effort.
With permission, Mr. Peterson explained that New York has been consistently supportive and has played a significant role in the Compact authorization efforts.
Motion to go into executive session for Section B, Article 5, Item i – evaluation of an employee.
The Commission emerged from executive session and adjourned at 3:55 p.m.
Mary Kelligrew Kassler, Secretary