2015 AGM minutes

Minutes of the 63rd Annual General Meeting of the British Agricultural History society held at the University of Bangor at 4pm on Monday 30th March 2015

The meeting began at 4pm
Present: There were 25 members of the Society present. The Chair was taken by Prof Jane Whittle. Officers of the Society present were Dr N J Verdon (Secretary), Prof R W Hoyle (Editor, Agricultural History Review) and Prof H French (Book Review Editor). Apologies were received from Dr H Crowe (Treasurer), Dr Margaret Yates, Brian Short and Alan Hunter.
575 Minutes of the 62nd meeting were approved as an accurate record of the meeting
576 Matters arising from the minutes:
There were no matters arising.
577 Elections of Officers of the Executive committee
Dr Hilary Crowe and Prof Henry French wish to step down from their roles as Treasurer and Book Reviews Editor.
The following nominations have been received:
Treasurer: Dr William (Bill) Shannon
Secretary: Dr Nicola Verdon
Editor: Prof Richard Hoyle
Book Review Editor: Dr Briony McDonagh
All were approved by the AGM to serve for one year.
Prof Mark Overton remains as President, having served two years of his three-year term.

578 Election of Ordinary members of the Executive committee
Three members of the EC have served the second of their two terms and are not eligible for re-election: Prof Dyer, Dr Martin and Dr Yates. Two members of the EC, Dr Brassley and Ruth Tittensor, have served the first of their four-year terms. Dr Brassley would like to serve a second term but Dr Tittensor does not wish to stand for re-election. This leaves four seats free on the EC. We have received nominations from Prof Henry French, Dr James Bowen and Dr Juliet Gayton. All were approved by the AGM. One seat will remain free for the 2015-16 year. Prof Whittle has now served her three-year term as Chair. The EC has elected Prof Henry French as the new Chair.

579 Report by Chair of the Executive Committee
The Chair thanked Dr Crowe for her invaluable work on behalf of the Society as Treasurer over the past four year. She also thanked those members who are leaving the EC at this AGM: Prof Dyer and Drs Martin and Yates for their long-serving membership over the past eight years, and to Ruth Tittensor, who has served for four years.
The Chair then reported on a number of initiatives that have occurred in the past year:
Conference and Initiative fund. This is a new scheme set up by the Society to support conferences, workshops and other events with a grant of up to £500. It is open to everyone and the Society is keen to support regional and local events. The form is now available on the website. Post-graduate workshop. This was held in December 2014 and was attended by 12 PhD students, as well as a number of the Society’s Officers. It was a very lively and fruitful day for all involved. It is hoped that such an event will be repeated every other year.
Work-in-progress. The form is on the website and all members were urged to fill this in if they have not done so already. The completed Work-in-progress list used to be published in the Review but it will now be available only on the website. Website. A great deal of work been done on the website, with thanks to Catherine Glover, the web editor. It now changes regularly, with updates of news, events, pictures, and resources. We are keen to make more resources available to all members of the public. A major initiative, already underway, is LIBRAL, a library of Irish and British Rural and Agricultural history (see Editor’s report).
At the end of her report, Prof Whittle was thanked by the AGM for her stewardship of the Society in the past three years as Chair of the EC.

580 Report from the Treasurer
In the absence of Dr Crowe, Dr Shannon, the newly elected Treasurer spoke to this item. The AGM were presented with the Society’s balance sheet, income and expenditure, and membership figures, all for the year ending 31st January 2015. The Society holds over £100,000 in deposits and income bonds, and during the 2014-15 year made a profit of £3,376 (as opposed to £4,271 in the previous year). As a charity we should aim to break even. The main income comes from subscriptions and journal sales, and in terms of expenditure the Review cost £19,000 to produce and £2,000 to copy edit. We are still awaiting our Gift Aid refund. The membership of the Society, both individual and institutional, shows a slight rise over the past year (but is below the high point of 2007).
The incoming Treasurer was asked whether the new individual members were academics or non-professional historians. This is an interesting question and will be looked into. It was reported that the Society has also produced a new leaflet and there will be a new drive for membership over the coming year.
The accounts were formally approved.
The independent examiner Zoe Crumbie was reappointed.

381 Report from the Editors
Two issues of the Review appeared last year, with a total of 15 articles, 26 reviews, and 384 pages of text. The second issue was late and the Editor reported that Part I of this year will also be delayed but Part II should be back to the usual schedule. The Editor reported that submissions to the journal were buoyant last year, although there was a noticeable absence of many articles on modern British rural history. More of these were encouraged so the balance of the journal content could be maintained.
The Editor then reported on LIBRAL, a public initiative taken by the Society to place a library of key rural and agricultural literature online. Although much of this is already online, it is not easily accessible and is often behind paywalls. The Society will identify, scan and digitise much of the material, including the General Views of Agriculture and runs of journals and periodicals. It will be available to all and part of the range of services the Society offers to the public. It therefore helps meet our charitable objectives. One member asked about the availability of PhD thesis. The Editor responded that the Society cannot easily make these available on our website because of copyright issues, but as many universities are increasingly digitising their own back catalogues, and the British Library doing so through the ETHOS portal, PhD theses are now becoming more readily available. The Editor expressed his thanks to Prof French, who is standing down as Book Reviews Editor after seven years.

382 Any other business
Susanna Wade Martins was thanked for her continuing work in editing Rural History Today. All members of the Society were encouraged to contribute to this popular and informative publication. Catherine Glover, the website manager, was thanked for all her work.
The Secretary was thanked for the organisation of the conference.

583 Date of next meeting
Monday April 4th, Wortley Hall, near Sheffield