A new era for farm safety in BC dawned this week as farm sector representatives approved motions to rename the province’s largest farm safety organization the AgSafe Agriculture Association and reconfigure its board of directors.
“Today marks the first time that AgSafe has made significant changes to the bylaws,” AgSafe chair Don Dahr told a special general meeting held via videoconference on August 11.
The association debuted in 1993 as the Farm and Ranch Safety and Health Association, a partnership of the province, through WorkSafeBC; employers, represented by the BC Federation of Agriculture (now the BC Agriculture Council) and workers, represented by the Canadian Farmworkers Union.
But a governance review last fall by Kyle Pearce, principal of think:act consulting in Vancouver, flagged a risk that the CFU could dissolve, jeopardizing AgSafe’s future. CFU provides half the association’s appointed board members; BCAC provides the other half.
“The purpose of redrafting the bylaws, including the composition of the board, is to ensure that AgSafe has the ability to operate legally as a non-profit society,” Dahr told the meeting.
The half-hour meeting attracted 28 people, of which 13 cast votes on three motions. The first provided for the organization’s new name; the second replaced the association’s bylaws; and the third appointed a transitional board of directors.
The three motions were voted on as one, with 10 votes cast in favour, one opposed and two abstentions.
CFU representative Nina Hansen cast the opposing vote. Hansen declined comment but earlier this year told Country Life in BC the CFU was not on the verge of dissolving.
The new bylaws provide for an elected board of three to seven directors, with four directors being employers, one being a worker representative, an industry member less than 40 years old and one person interested in health and safety issues.
The transitional board includes current chair Don Dahr, incumbent directors Eric Bomhof and Andrea van Iterson as well as Lisa Craig, Rhonda Driediger and David Nguyen. Driediger is co-chair of BCAC’s labour committee while Nguyen is a former AgSafe consultant now working in the mushroom sector.