Role and Responsibilities
The committee system of the National Grain and Feed Association is:
- an integral component of the NGFA’s structure;
- an important contributor to its strength and effectiveness as a national trade organization; and
- one of the most important benefits provided by the Association to its members.
Comprised of more than 300 dedicated industry volunteers from all types and sizes of member companies, NGFA committees work proactively for the mutual benefit of the industry. They ensure that diverse issues are addressed effectively by a cross section of members who have expertise and experience in the subject matter.
Those serving on NGFA committees also benefit from their involvement. They are on the cutting edge of learning about government policies – usually at the developmental stage – as well as the intricacies of important industry issues and trends. NGFA committee members are in an ideal position to influence the outcome on major issues. And they have a chance to interact with, and learn from, the industry’s foremost experts – their fellow committee members.
Power and Responsibilities
Committees derive their power and authority to act from the NGFA chairman. The NGFA chairman, in turn, is guided by policies established by the membership and the Board of Directors. As defined in the NGFA Bylaws, the NGFA chairman “shall, in general, supervise and control all the business and affairs of the corporation.” Thus, when appointing committees, the NGFA chairman is delegating responsibility for specific Association programs and functions.
Objectives: Each NGFA committee has a defined set of general objectives that has been approved by the NGFA chairman and/or Board of Directors.
Policy Recommendations: While the NGFA Bylaws vest policy-setting authority in the Board of Directors, committees are responsible for developing well-deliberated policy recommendations that represent a consensus view on issues that affect the grain, feed and processing industry.
When Association policy is silent or unclear, or where an expenditure of funds or legal commitments from the NGFA is required, the matter is referred to the Board of Directors. If the Board is not in session, such matters are referred to the Executive Committee.
Activities: NGFA committees develop plans and programs for their specific areas. Such activities include developing and presenting testimony and position papers to Congress and federal agencies on issues that pertain to the committee’s work; defining and recommending research needs, where applicable; monitoring the activities of, and interacting with, other groups and organizations whose interests coincide with those of the committee; and providing information and educational conferences for industry members.
Participation: Industry volunteers appointed to committees are expected to participate actively in the committee’s business and consistently work toward goals and objectives that benefit the membership as a whole.
Committee service carries with it the responsibility to: 1) be knowledgeable about pertinent background information concerning the committee’s work responsibilities; 2) regularly attend meetings and actively participate in the discussion; 3) respond to committee mailings in a timely manner; and 4) alert the chairperson and staff about issues that arise in which the committee should become involved. Importantly, committee members act as the chairperson’s “radar,” being alert to issues that should be addressed.
Working for the Good of the Entire Industry: In deliberating NGFA positions, the committee member takes off his or her “company hat” and puts on the “Association hat.” That means committee members — while conveying the views and expertise of the company and industry sector from which they come — strive to represent the NGFA’s entire membership, not individual companies. This commitment to the well-being of the Association’s membership as a whole is one of the keys to the success of the NGFA’s committee system.
Committee Composition and Meetings
Committees are structured to achieve balance among industry segments and geographic areas. Committee size — ranging from six to 40 members — allows for efficient decision-making while ensuring a voice for all appropriate industry segments.
The Chairperson: The committee chairperson is appointed by the NGFA chairman to serve during his or her term. In so doing, the NGFA chairman delegates to each committee chairperson the responsibility for the conduct of the committee and those issues falling within its jurisdiction.
The committee chairperson is selected because of his or her expertise and leadership qualities. Responsibilities include:
- planning, in consultation with the president and staff, the work and activities of the committee;
- developing meeting agendas;
- running committee meetings and obtaining group decisions; and
- making reports to the Board of Directors on the programs and activities of the committee, especially positions taken before Congress and the federal government.
Committee Members: Committee members also are appointed by the NGFA chairman. Appointment to a committee is individual. Subject to the committee chairperson’s concurrence, a substitute may attend a committee meeting in a member’s absence, but has no vote.
Committee members are chosen for their knowledge and interest, as well as their leadership. Committee service often is a training ground for future Association leaders. A highly valued quality in the selection of a committee member is that he or she be a good listener and be considerate of other points of view. An understanding and respect for other opinions and conflicting ideas promotes open discussions and helps formulate positions that will benefit the industry as a whole.
Committee Meetings: Committees meet at the call of the chairperson at a time and place developed in coordination with the staff. The prepared agenda is cleared with the NGFA president and legal counsel. After a committee meeting, minutes are written by Association staff, approved by the chairperson, cleared by the president and legal counsel, and distributed to all committee members. Except for confidential matters, agendas and minutes also are made available to any interested NGFA member via the Association’s web site.
Staff Liaison and Legal Protection
The NGFA staff is responsible for coordinating the activities of the committees and following through on committee assignments, motions and recommendations.
Since the staff is knowledgeable about the details and intricacies of the issues, as well as general NGFA policy, it plays an important advisory role in formulating and implementing the positions established by the committees. The NGFA president is responsible for directing the internal operating procedures of the staff related to committee activities.
Legal Protection: The NGFA retains the law firm of Arent, Fox, Kintner, Plotkin and Kahn as its outside legal counsel. In compliance with the Association’s Antitrust Compliance Policy, which protects the NGFA and its member companies on antitrust matters, all committee meeting agendas and minutes are reviewed and approved by legal counsel. Appropriate committee meetings also are attended by legal counsel