The NCPN Governing Board (NCPN-GB) is a national board that acts under the aegis of the United States Department of Agriculture, which oversees and administers NCPN funding for all the commodity groups within the network. Each specialty crop has its own commodity network composed of representatives from industry, academia, extension, state government and other interested experts.
NCPN Governing Board (Tier 1)
The top tier of the NCPN governing structure is the NCPN Governing Board, which includes representation from the three agencies of the United States Department of Agriculture. This Governing Board consists of 8 members - 5 appointed members plus one representative each from the USDA agencies ARS, APHIS and NIFA. The three USDA employees (originally known as the Core Working Group, CWG) are not voting members of the NCPN Governing Board but can veto decisions made by that body. The primary functions of the Tier 1 Governing Board are to set NCPN program policy and provide/allocate the NCPN funds to the various commodity networks.
The CWG appoints the voting members of the Governing Body. The voting members include at least one Fruit Tree Network member, one Grape Network member, one state department of agriculture employee, and one CGC employee. The Federal Advisory Council Act (FACA) provides that only federal or state employees can participate in the distribution decisions for federal money. The CWG is required to appoint state or federal employees to act as voting members on the NCPN Governing Body. The question of whether university employees are state employees is under examination. Non-voting subject matter experts will be invited to meetings as observers.
Commodity Network Boards (Tier 2)
The NCPN is a commodity-based organization. Two commodities - grapes and fruit trees - provided the initial impetus for organizing the network. Those two commodities organized into formal commodity networks with elected board members and charters in 2008-2009. Since that time, citrus, berries and hops have joined the NCPN.
Each commodity network elects its own board members and prepares its own charter. Some of the primary responsibilities of the commodity boards are to identify priorities and recommend the allocation of funds received from the Tier 1 Governing Board and to coordinate pathogen testing standards across the United States. The voting members of the commodity boards are selected from academia, industry and state government. The FACA rules do not apply at this level, so university employees are eligible to be voting members. Subject matter experts will be invited to participate in the discussions and offer advice. NCPN funding supplies a full-time staff position for administrative support of each commodity network.
Regional Commodity Networks (Tier 3)
At the outset, the National Grape Clean Plant Network opted to create regional sub-boards to reflect a dichotomy within the grape industry connected to regional differences in plant material and important pathogens. The Western Grape Clean Plant Network and Eastern Grape Clean Plant Network were established as Tier 3 level regional governing bodies. The regional boards addressed issues of particular interest to each region and reported to the national (Tier 2) Grape Clean Plant Network Board. In 2010, the formal regional boards were eliminated in terms of the official Grape CPN structure, leaving the national Grape CPN (Tier 2) as the body representing the grape network. The Tier 3 representatives will still continue to operate informally within the Tier 2 Board to address any significant regional concerns.