|Annual Convention: A Can’t Miss Event
(January 1, 2010) I hope this month’s column finds you all looking forward to a brand new year after a happy holiday season.
I have mentioned in past columns the several opportunities that 2009 presented the sheep industry. I am looking forward to continuing the progress we as producers made in the past year, and turning those things we find challenging in 2010 into opportunities as well.
As the new decade begins, we have a great chance to continue to shape our industry the way that we want – and a great starting place is at the American Sheep Industry Association’s (ASI) annual convention coming up Jan. 20-23 in Nashville.
In ASI’s registration brochure, it says that Nashville provides a unique, versatile and rich heritage that are unparalleled, and I can’t help but think that mirrors our industry perfectly. This year’s convention will bring together a variety of producers, doing unique and new things with their operations all in the name of supporting our industry’s long and rich heritage. I encourage all of you to attend, as it would be a shame not to have your voice and experiences heard.
There are some things that I am really looking forward to at this year’s convention that offer education and entertainment.
This year will again host a Research Symposium on Thursday, Jan. 21. This is a chance for the authors of the most recent sheep-related research to present their findings to the producers, the ones who are using it in the field. This event was quite popular last year, and included some very useful information, and this year’s event is shaping up quite well. During this event, producers are given the chance to ask questions, so don’t miss out on the chance to learn new information for your operations.
ASI will also host its first-ever new ASI Director Orientation to teach the ins and outs of the position. Voting expectations, policy development, ASI bylaws and travel policies will all be covered in this highly recommended session.
I hope to see you all on Friday afternoon, Jan. 22, to listen to speaker Bruce Vincent. Vincent will speak on environmental stewardship and animal welfare issues that exist today in our society. These topics affect us all, and he will offer information on being proactive and taking the lead in these issues, putting us in the driver’s seat.
The convention will once again feature an industry tour labeled “Whiskey, Horses and Ewe.” While the title may be self explanatory, this tour will give a great incite into the state of Tennessee as well as the region’s sheep production. Welcoming the tour to the state, will be a member of the Tennessee Farm Bureau, the largest Farm Bureau organization in the United States.
On a lighter note, we have several great entertainment opportunities lined up from tours to the Saturday, Jan. 23, lunch-time entertainment of comedy duo Williams and Ree.
There is really something for everyone at this year’s convention, and that has come in part due to the very hard work of members of the Tennessee Sheep Producers Association. This group has worked very hard to make sure our visit to their home state is educational, entertaining and memorable, and I encourage you to give them a handshake and a thank you for their efforts on putting on this convention.
The working group on livestock protection dogs expects to roll out a management program that producers can use to help keep these guarding dogs available to our industry. Additionally, the committee that is working on priorities to strengthen U.S. sheep inventory numbers is meeting on Thursday, Jan. 21 to continue work on key items that impact sheep production.
We also expect goat producers to participate as we have the inaugural meeting of the American Goat Federation taking place during our convention this year.
Additionally, the surveys that producers and feeders have completed for ASI this winter will be highlighted at the industry meeting. Analysis is being completed on the non-traditional lamb marketing survey in which there is extreme interest to better understand the lamb markets of today, particularly the ever-larger slaughter for ethnic markets.
The results of the livestock protection dog survey we sent out in December will be available to review as will the industry responses on building up sheep production in this country.
Finally, I just want to encourage everyone to watch your ASI Weekly newsletter for more convention information, including the speaker line-up for the council and committee meetings. And, if you haven’t yet registered for the convention, you can receive the discount rate before Jan. 5, but can still register after that for full price.
We also encourage all youth in the industry to view the convention’s events and to take part in all activities that will be offered to them at this year’s convention. Our youth are tomorrow’s leaders, and we want them to be as big of a part of the industry as possible at any age.
See you all in Nashville.