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Lessons Learned at Cattlemen's Convention

Yesterday, I spent the day at the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Convention in Huron, SD. Every year, my South Dakota colleagues get together to discuss the big issues facing the beef industry today. More than that, my South Dakota friends get together every year to rekindle old friendships and enjoy each other’s company away from the daily grind of cattle feeding chores.

Taking it all in, I didn’t realize how much I learned throughout the day until I arrived at home. The day kicked off with Troy and Stacy Hadrick giving a presentation about animal rights activists and how it’s time to stand up and speak out, before our industry changes forever. These Advocates for Agriculture truly did an outstanding job of setting the tone for the rest of the day, and I could see the fire they lit in the eyes of the ranchers around me. I know they make a difference.

Another speaker that stuck out throughout the convention was Gregg Doud, NCBA’s Chief Economist from Washington D.C. Although I was a little weary when he told the luncheon crowd that he had 118 slides to go through, Doud blew me away with his passion, his foresight into the future of the industry and his uncanny knack to make squiggles on a ton of charts make sense to everyone in the room. He taught me the meaning of BRIC: Brazil, Russia, India and China—the four countries that are taking the global marketplace by storm. He explained the economic turmoils of more than just the beef industry; Doud dived into how the poultry, pork, commodity and even crude oil markets were affecting beef prices. I think the entire crowd could have listened to him speak all day. I know that Gregg will play an influential part in the future of our industry.

Aside from speakers, the day wouldn’t have been complete without a cowboy auction, good food, Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament and a magician. The day was certainly filled with lessons to be learned, fun to be had and friends to make.

At the end of the day, I realized one thing: it’s much easier to stay home to work than to travel to attend a conference that help you through the tough economic times of the day. I know a lot of cowboys that stayed home because money is tight, and they feel it’s not worth it to get out and listen to experts on how to handle our current situation. My grandpa told me that it’s in the worst times when it’s the best time to be involved. I think he’s right. So, if you have a convention, university workshop or conference that you are on the fence about attending, ask yourself if it’s worth it to miss out on the tools that will help you become successful in the next era of the agriculture industry.