2016 AGM minutes

Minutes of the 64rd Annual General Meeting of the British Agricultural History society held at Wortley Hall, near Sheffield on Monday 4th April 2016

The meeting began at 4pm
Present: There were 22 members of the Society present. The Chair was taken by Prof Henry French. Officers of the Society present were Dr Nicola Verdon (Secretary), Prof Richard Hoyle (Editor, Agricultural History Review), and Dr Bill Shannon (Treasurer). Dr B McDonagh (Book Review Editor) was also present. Apologies were received from Chris Dyer, Peter Riches, Brian Short, Alan Hunter and John Broad.
584 Minutes of the 63rd meeting were approved as an accurate record of the meeting
585 Matters arising from the minutes:
There were no matters arising
586 Elections of Officers of the Executive committee
Professor Mark Overton has now served his 3-year term as President of the Society and we sought nominations for his successor, as well as for Treasurer, Secretary, and Editors.
The following nominations have been received:
President                      Dr John Broad
Treasurer                     Dr William (Bill) Shannon
Secretary                      Dr Nicola Verdon
Editor                          Prof Richard Hoyle
Book Reviews Editor    Dr Briony McDonagh

All were approved by the AGM. The President will serve a three-year term; the Treasurer, Secretary and Editors to serve for one year.

587 Election of Ordinary members of the Executive committee
One member of the EC, Dr John Broad, has served the second of his two terms and is not eligible for re-election.
Three members of the EC, Prof Karen Sayer, Prof Clare Griffiths and Dr Nicola Whyte, have served the first of their four-year terms and have agreed to stay on for a second term.
One seat was remained free from 2015-16.
We therefore sought nominations for two new members of the EC. One nomination was received, on behalf of Dr Rebecca Ford. She was approved by the AGM to serve on the EC for a four-year term.
One seat will remain free on the EC for 2016-17.
588 Report by Chair of the Executive Committee
The Chair began by announcing the death of Prof David Hey at his Dronfield home in February. He had served various roles in the Society, including President. The AGM stood for a minute’s silence in his memory.
A leaflet is now available announcing the Joan Thirsk Memorial Prize Fund. From Spring 2017 the Society will award an annual prize in memory of Joan Thirsk for the best book in British or Irish Rural or Agrarian History. The call for donations has so far raised £1400 and is still open. The Society will match the donation fund from its reserves.
The Chair reported on the conference ‘After Margaret Spufford: English Local History Now’, which was held at the University of Roehampton in June 2015, backed by £500 from the Society’s Conference and Initiatives Fund. There may be a forthcoming publication.
The Chair finished his report by outlining the on-going construction of the LIBERAL initiative, launched last year.

589 Report from the Treasurer
The AGM were presented with the Society’s balance sheet, income and expenditure account, and membership figures, all for the year ending 31st January 2016. The Society holds reserves of £102,000 in deposits and income bonds; some of this will be earmarked for the Joan Thirsk fund. The Society made a profit during the 2015-16 year of £4,893, an increase on last year (which was £3,376). We currently hold £37,721 in a bank account; some of this will be transferred into another income bond this year.
There were no major changes from last year in terms of income and expenditure. The number of members and institutions are reducing but the Society’s royalties and Gold Open Access income has increased. The Spring Conference last year made a slight loss; a late bill for the previous year’s conference accounts for the large loss on the Winter Conference (which also included a day-long post-graduate conference). The expenses for the Review and Rural History Today were in line with last year, although marketing costs had risen because of a new leaflet run.
The Treasurer reported that PayPal had now been successful implemented and was being used for membership and conference payments.
It is now a decade since the membership fee has been increased. A proposal to increase this will be discussed at the next EC in September and then brought to the AGM in 2017. One member of the AGM queried why this needed to be raised as the Society makes a profit every year. The Treasurer explained that the fee is low in comparison with other similar societies, and that the costs of publishing and posting the Review and RHT exceeds the membership fee of £20. This puts us in a vulnerable position with the Charity Commission as the benefits exceed the fee. At the moment ordinary members are subsidised by institutional members, but the latter are in long-term decline. There will be no proposals to increase the concessionary rate, as it is important to attract younger members and new researchers.
The accounts were formally approved.
The independent examiner Zoe Crumbie was reappointed.

390 Report from the Editors
Two issues of the Review appeared last year, with a total of 13 articles, 17 reviews, and 334 pages of text. There was also one bibliographical review. The Editor reported that submissions to the journal have been slow so far this year. 
Progress was made on LIBRAL, and much material has been placed on the Society’s website. Work to populate this is on-going.
The Chair thanked the Editors for their work ensuring the quality of publications in the Review and the flow of book reviews. The Web Editor, Catherine Glover, was also thanked for keeping the website an attractive and up-to-date resource.

391 New BAHS Constitution
The AGM were issued with a copy of the proposed new Constitution. The Chair explained that the Constitution had been amended over the years but had not been updated since 2000. The proposed changes were primarily to provide clarity to a number of areas in the Constitution and to update it in line with current practices (for example adding our links with European societies and work with outside organisation in Clause 3, points g and h). Earlier today the EC had proposed two other changes to clarify the wording of point 8 and point 14, regarding the appointment and role of the Editor:
8. ‘The Officers of the Society shall consist of a President, Chair of the Executive, Treasurer, Secretary and Editor (s). The President shall be elected for a three-year period at the Annual General Meeting. The Treasurer and Secretary shall retire at each Annual General Meeting and are eligible for re-election. The Chair of the Executive shall be elected by the Committee from its members.’
14. ‘The Executive Committee shall appoint the Editors (s) who shall have full discretion concerning the contents of the publications authorised by the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee in consultation with the Editor (s) may appoint an Editorial Board.’
The AGM were asked to approve the new Constitution, including the above changes. This was approved and the new document will be submitted to the Charity Commission.

392 Any other business
The Chair thanked Prof Mark Overton for serving as President over the last three years. Dr John Broad was also thanked for his long service on the EC. 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, including work-in-progress, short research reports and news.
The Secretary was thanked for the organisation of the conference.

593 Date of next meeting
TBC. It is likely the 2017 conference will be in Sussex, with the proposed dates of April 3 – 5th