Certified organic farmers and processors from across the state turned out for VOF's Annual Producer Meeting held in South Royalton on Friday, January 27th. Our goal was to get meaningful feedback from our producers on a variety of issues, including whether VOF should offer certification of alternative labels (such as grass fed, certified transitional, etc.). We also asked questions regarding current agricultural policy and new NOP regulations, particularly the recently published animal welfare rule.
The most important topic of discussion, however, centered around the question of increasing certification fees for 2017. We had a very respectful and informed conversation about how this increase would impact producers and why it was needed for the continued success of the certification program. The vote to increase fees in 2017 passed with only 1 abstention and 1 nay vote. I was really touched by the support of our producers and their commitment to invest in a successful future for VOF.
This year we decided to change the location of the Annual Meeting to allow different producers to attend more easily, and there seemed to be great support for this decision. We also discussed changing the meeting time from 10-2 to 11-3 to make it easier for those driving long distances to attend the meeting. Moving forward, we'll continue to host the meeting at different locations around the state and will try the new time next year.
If you were unable to attend the meeting but want to know more about the discussions and topics of interest, certified producers may request the meeting minutes by contacting our office. If you weren't with us at the meeting this year, please consider joining us at next year's event. VOF is dedicated to involving our producers in discussions about the future of our certification program and the annual meeting is a great opportunity for VOF to hear directly from our producers about your thoughts and concerns.