Virginia State Apple Board Minutes Nov. 2013
VIRGINIA STATE APPLE BOARD
Mrs. Rowe’s Restaurant – Staunton, Virginia
Monday, November 11, 2013
John Brugiere Lynn Graves Heather McKay
Shannon Showalter Dudley Rinker
Tommy Williams Steve Ginn Ricky Berrier
Melissa Ball David Robishaw Liz White
John Leggett Bill Sharp
Call to order and welcome Guests
Lynn Graves, Chairman of the Apple Board, called the meeting to order at 11:00 AM and welcomed the members. David Robishaw introduced Melissa Ball to the Board and guests.
Approval of the minutes from the January 22, 2013 meeting
Prior to the meeting, David sent the Board the draft minutes from the previous meeting. After a brief review, John Brugiere moved to accept the minutes as presented, Dudley Rinker seconded the motion, and with no further discussion, the motion passed.
Review of the Financial Report
Prior to the meeting, David sent the Board a recap of the balances in the cost codes associated with the Apple Board In cost code 646, which normally is zeroed out at the end of the fiscal year, the Board has $21,984.81. This amount was inadvertently left in cost code 648 which is the administration code and VDACS transferred the amount back out and put it in the central cost code. The Board is expecting one more transfer from the Department of Taxation into cost code 646 for a payment that did not make the end of the year deadline, which will be added to the distribution pool for June 2014. After the transfer, cost code 648 has a balance of $52,108.43. Cost code 647, which is the reserve, has 71,208.27.
The Virginia Apple Growers Association has a balance of 33,780.40 as of June 30, 2013. The Association has made several payments in support of the Mexican Export Program but will be reimbursed for those expenses through grant money supplied by the USDA through the US Apple Export Council.
Review of the new Apple Web Site
Tootie Rinker is still functioning as webmaster for the site. David Robishaw is putting the minutes to the meeting as well as the Annual Report on the web site so all apple growers can see what is taking place in the industry. One of the issues addressed by the Board is to determine how best to reach growers and have them put their information on the apple web site, specifically updating their festivals and events. This is really important from the consumer side to better drive customers to Virginia growers. All Board members will continue to promote this whenever there are grower meetings.
US Apple Export Council
Virginia is a member of the US Apple Export Council, which is a group of apple producing states (excluding Washington State) that work cooperatively to export apples. In the past, Virginia has paid a flat rate, but this year the Council worked to develop an equitable formula so each state pays based on their exports. For the 2013-2014 season, Virginia’s dues are $11, 289.21. After some Board discussion focusing on the unusually large crop this year, Dudley Rinker moved to fund US Apple Export Council and support them in moving this large crop. John Brugiere seconded the motion, and with no further discussion, the motion passed.
Distribution of the 2013 Crop Money
In June of 2014, the Virginia Department of Agriculture will process and pay those entities entitled to receive funding. After lengthy discussion the Board voted to provide the following with funding:
US Apple Association 20%
Virginia State Horticultural Society 20%
Virginia Agricultural Research Program 20%
Administration Fund 10%
Reserve Fund 10%
The remaining 20% remained unallocated and will remain in cost code 646 for distribution the following year.
Apple Board Policy and Apple Board Code
David Robishaw mentioned to the Board that they are the only agricultural commodity board that is not appointed by the Governor but is elected. Only growers paying the apple assessment qualify to vote in the election. As a matter of policy, the Board will request a copy of all assessments collected for the previous crop to make sure VDACS sends every eligible grower a ballot. David Robishaw, working with the Board chairman, will draft a letter to the Virginia Department of Taxation every July requesting this information.
The current Apple Law was originally created in 2004 and 2005. It was recodified in 2008. Since then there have not been any revisions in the code. After Board discussion, it was determined the best course of action would be for each member to talk with their fellow growers and get feedback on the current law. The general consensus was not to necessarily look at the amount of the assessment but rather look to amend certain parts of the law that are either obsolete or make the Board less effective. This will be on-going process with the goal of having any changes the industry wants discussed and worked out by the summer of 2014 and ready to start the General Assembly process by the fall of 2014.
There was no additional public comment
Next Meeting and Adjourned
It was decided the Board would need to meet again sometime during the last 2 weeks of June. A specific date and location will be determined later. With no further business before the Board, Chairman Graves adjourned the meeting at 12:55 PM.
Lynn Graves, Chairman
Virginia Apple Board Annual Report 2013
Virginia State Apple Board
In 2003, Virginia apple growers voted to discontinue collecting the apple excise tax. Almost immediately after the vote, a segment of the industry began work to reestablish the excise tax as a way to fund several important programs. After 2 years of working with industry groups and the General Assembly, a referendum was held in 2005 and the growers voted to reinstate the excise tax. The tax will only be collected on those growers who produce 5,000 bushels or more per year on a 5 year average. The rate collected will be .025 cents per bushel and the money will be divided between the U.S. Apple Association, the Virginia State Horticultural Society, the Virginia Apple Research Program, administration and reserve. This funding will continue to keep Virginia growers relevant in the national and international marketplace. The Virginia Department of Taxation will be responsible for collecting the taxes and transferring them to the Virginia Department of Agriculture. The money will be held by VDACS in cost code 646.
During the January 22, 2013 Board meeting, the Board voted to send 40% of the revenue collected to the U.S. Apple Association, 20% to the Virginia State Horticultural Society and 20% to the Virginia Agricultural Research Program and 10% to the reserve fund The Board voted NOT to send any funds to the Administrative fund as that fund was increasing and the money was not being used. The 10% balance will remain in the general cost code 646 and will be redistributed next year. The administrative and reserve funds will be held within the Virginia Department of Agriculture. Cost code 645 has been eliminated.
The 2012-2013 growing season had the usual challenges for the growers. While Virginia escaped any devastating conditions, growers faced the usual East Coast challenges of heat and sporadic rainfall. Virginia growers were impacted by the stinkbug infestation, but losses were not as severe as the previous year. Overall, the quantity of apples was down and the quality was average. Virginia continued to work with all major retail chains to place both bagged and tray pack apples regionally to capture the consumer’s desire to “buy fresh and buy local”. Internationally, Virginia continued as a major supplier of apples to Cuba and growers are anticipating that trend will continue. Central America was another area that bought Virginia apples. Virginia shippers also had spot sales to Russia and India
Virginia did not export any apples to Mexico during this season during this selling season as overall supplies were down and the sizes and grades of apples that go to Mexico were also limited. Mexico still has artificial barriers to trade imposed against apples from the Eastern United States. Work to eliminate the anti dumping duties as well as the expensive and burdensome pre clearance program are continuing but progress is slow. Until these barriers are eliminated, Virginia growers will not develop the Mexican market like they could.
The Virginia apple industry continues to build it’s new web site with funding from the Specialty Crop Block Grant, though this is the last year of funding. The SCBG program is administered by VDACS with funding provided by the USDA. There is a working group comprised of one member each from the Virginia Horticultural Society, Virginia Apple Growers Association, and the Apple Board. The web site is officially more than one year old and the webmaster is continuing to add content to the site.
The Apple Board funded an educational piece in “Virginia Agriculture, A Guide to the Commonwealth’s Farms, Food and Forests” magazine. This publication went to local, state, and federal government officials to educate them on the positive economic impact apples have in the state. The article was very well received.
Virginia growers continue to face many challenges including rising land prices, increased costs of inputs (fuel, fertilizer, electricity), an uncertain immigration situation, a weakened economy, the loss of chemicals, and the increasing global supply of apples. Despite these obstacles, improved growing practices including high density spindle plantings, new technologies, and rising consumer demand for locally grown produce have brought about a renewed sense of optimism.
Lynn Graves, Chair, Virginia Apple Board David Robishaw, Secretary
Board Meetings and Member Attendance
Date Location Attendance
January 22, 2013 Richmond 7
Steve Ginn John Bruguiere
John Marker Dudley Rinker
Ruth Saunders Ricky Berrier
Cost Code 646
Cash Balance: 6/30/2012 100.00
Assessment Receipts: 7/1/12 – 6/30/2013 105,509.14
Tax Collections 93,171.85
Reverse from cc 648 12,337.29
Total Cash Balance 105,609.14
US Apple Association 37,166
VA Apple Research 18,583
VA State Hort Society 18,583
Transfer to cc 647 – Reserve 9,292.33
Transfer to cc 648 - Admin -
Total Actual Expenditures 74,332.00
(from VDACS Financial Analysis)
Cash Balance: 6/30/2013 21,984.81
Cost Code 647 - Reserve
Cash Balance: 6/30/2012 $71,208.27
Transfer from cc 646 9,292.33
Other receipts 0
Total Balance 80,500.60
Deduct Total Actual Expenditures
(from VDACS Financial Analysis) 0
Cash Balance: June 30, 2013 $80,500.60
Cost Code 648 - Administration
Cash Balance: June 30, 2012 $70,569.48
Transfer from cc 646 -
Other Receipts (Interest) 1,782.17
Total Balance $72,351.65
Deduct Total Actual Expenditures
(from VDACS Financial Analysis) 7,905.93
Deduct balance transfer to cc 646 12,337.29
Cash Balance: June 30, 2013 $52,108.43