This Week’s Column: Farmer Meeting Season Is Here

For the most part, the combines are cleaned up and in the back of the machinery sheds across the Corn Belt. While scattered pockets of corn still standing are out there, the elongated harvest of 2009 is in the books. Meanwhile, winter has firmly arrived, meaning planters won’t be rolling for four or five more months, depending on Punxatawny Phil’s shadow, of course. This interlude between the two most intensive field activities of the year brings with it a busy time for farmers, nonetheless, as dozens upon dozens of farmer meetings, banquets, and conventions will occur in the next few months.



This week our staff is meeting with the folks who plan Ohio’s county fairs at the Ohio Fair Managers Convention in Columbus. This meeting marks the unofficial start of county fair season for us. Our team will broadcast from nearly 50 county fairs, festivals, and field days this summer as part of our summer tour. This week the Board members and professional staff of those fairs gather to discuss and learn ways to improve their events.



From here, Lindsay and I wing our way to Seattle, Washington for the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting. Over 100 members and staff of the Ohio Farm Bureau will accompany us, and these members will work diligently to set the policies that guide the Farm Bureau over the next year. Immediately upon our return, we’ll truck over to the Fort Wayne Farm Show, just across the Indiana border, for one of the region’s leading indoor farm trade shows and expositions.



While we’re in Fort Wayne, several area farmers will trek to Des Moines, Iowa, for the National No-Till Conference, one of several key no-till events of the season. I’ll head to Denver, Colorado for the National Western Stock Show, where I’m a delegate to the American Shorthorn Association’s Annual Meeting. I’m leaving directly from Denver for Miami, Florida for Bayer Crop Science’s First Annual Pan-American Weed Resistance Conference. They say you can’t beat Miami in January…



I’ll return from discussing the critical importance of managing weeds’ resistance to popular crop protection products just in time for the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association’s Annual Meeting. I serve on OCA’s Board of Directors, and ABN sponsors both the Young Cattleman of the Year and Beef Industry Excellence Awards.



It’ll be a cattle kind of week for me then, as I leave shortly after the OCA gathering for the Cattle Industry Annual Convention in San Antonio, Texas, where leaders of the Beef Checkoff and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association meet to discuss their own policies and strategies for the upcoming year. We’ll round out the month at Power Show Ohio, one of the largest indoor equipment shows in the Midwest, and one of our favorite events of the year.



Now, lest you think this schedule is just about some January fun in the sun for farmers and farm broadcasters, let me give you a broader perspective. The organizations hosting these meetings utilize the opportunity to gather their members’ collective knowledge and will. Organizations like Farm Bureau and NCBA are truly grassroots organizations; in other words, without the input and participation of the membership, the organization loses its power and effectiveness. Farmer leaders are what make organized agriculture so strong, and the chance to gather and share ideas and exchange information is extremely valuable for both the farmer and the farm organization.



February and March bring even more of these meetings, including the conventions of the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, the National Biodiesel Board, the National Farmers Union, and the National Institute of Animal Agriculture. We’ll be at each of these, telling the story of the hardworking farm families who produce our food and steward our national resources. Perhaps I’ll see you there.