How many businesses do you own? If you’re an member of the Viroqua Food Co-op, you’re a co-owner of at least one! But are you taking full advantage of the benefits of ownership? Beyond being eligible for patronage refunds and case discounts, owners of the Co-op have the right and responsibility to participate in the decision-making process for the business by voting in our annual elections. Cooperative businesses like the Viroqua Food Co-op are democratic organizations controlled by their owners, and we count on owners like you to elect a Board of Directors that act on your behalf to fulfill the obligations that come with owning a business.
This year we have two open seats on the Board of Directors, and I encourage you to vote this fall and even consider running for one of the open seats yourself!
One of the primary responsibilities of Board members is to set long-range goals and plan for the future of our business. The Co-op is on the brink of an exciting growth phase, and strategic planning is an important and exciting task for our Board in the coming years.
I strongly encourage you to run for a seat. We’re looking for VFC owners who can act as a trustee on behalf of our entire membership with the skills and commitment it takes to ensure the sound management of Co-op resources. All interested candidates can contact the Board Vice President (myself) to declare their intention and receive more information about the nomination and election process.
While the deadline to declare yourself as a candidate isn’t until August, it’s helpful for us to know your intention ahead of time so that you can observe a board meeting and ask any questions you have about the role and responsibilities of a Board member. We ask that candidates commit to a three year term and must be an owner of the Viroqua Food Co-op for at least one year.
In addition to voting on the Board of Director candidates, we have a few other things for our owners to vote on during this year’s annual election. As the Board of Directors, our roles require that we keep our bylaws and articles relevant and updated. We’ve been working to clean them up with the help of our attorney and will ask our owners to vote to approve the changes this fall. The goal is to more accurately reflect the current status of our business, including the patronage refund program, as well as to ensure our actions are in line with the current Wisconsin State Statutes for Cooperatives.
One simple change is to reduce redundant language between the bylaws and articles. A more complex change is building in language about patronage refunds.
Another change may amend language about our stock ownership. We currently have three classes of shares (A, B & C): voting shares, owner-membership shares, and preferred (investment) shares. The existing language about the classes is confusing and in one area even contradictory. Because this language exists in several sections, there are areas of our bylaws that need modifications for consistency.
As a Board, we’re excited to make these improvements to our bylaws to position ourselves for success and growth in the Co-op’s future. We’re eager to hear any comments or questions you have leading up to the annual election in September.
Please see the Board section of the VFC’s website for our contact information. As always, we welcome attendance by owners at our monthly Board meetings—just give us a heads-up that you’re coming!
Vice President, VFC Board of Directors