Back in my radio days, I travelled - a lot. While I still get out to my fair share of meetings, tradeshows, conventions and seminars, working a great team of reporters each covering a different "beat" within agriculture means I'm not the only one in our newsroom tasked with packing his suitcase and hitting the road this time of year.
One of my favorite events of the farm-meeting travel season is the Cattle Industry Annual Convention hosted by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), Cattlemen's Beef Board (CBB), American National Cattlewomen (ANCW), CattleFax and the National Cattlemen's Foundation. Since my first trip as a member of the National Beef Ambassador team more than a decade ago, I've enjoyed many conventions over the years, meeting other cattlemen and industry stakeholders and discussing the big issues in the beef business.
Alas, I'll not be winging my way to Tampa next month - "Boots on the Bay" will have to happen without me as my beautiful bride and I are expecting our first child to arrive roughly 41 days from today. With convention taking place Feb. 6-9 in sunny South Florida, I decided the convention was too far from home and too close to our due date for my comfort.
That said, I probably wouldn't pass this year's convention up for much less than the birth of my child - convention is always great, but this year's looks to be absolutely stellar.
Setting aside the basic fact that South Florida's weather in February is infinitely preferable to that of Central Ohio (just ask the thousands of Ohio "snowbirds" who make their winter/retirement homes there), the lineup of speakers released thus far has more than tickled my curiosity.
Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, known for their inspirational adoption of NFL standout Michael Oher as depicted in the hit film The Blind Side (Has Sandra Bullock ever looked better?), will officially kick off the convention with keynote remarks during the General Opening Session. This in and of itself would probably be enough to get me to Tampa, as the movie and the Oher story is one of my favorite sports-related tales.
FoxBusiness Network host Stuart Varney is another highlight of the agenda - Varney will highlight the second General Session, and offer his assessment on the global economy, and give a positive talk on the bright spots he sees in the broader financial universe. Should be a great talk.
Another highlight in my mind is the annual Cattlemen's College session taking place Feb. 5-6, just ahead of the main thrust of the convention. Topping the educational program is noted futurist Dr. Lowell Catlett, an agricultural economist who will share his predictions for the long range outlook for the agricultural industry and factors that influence profitability and sustainability of beef cattle production. Catlett is one of the more well-known and respected speakers in the agricultural realm, and his talk should be worth the trip.
All said, it looks like the Convention planners have outdone themselves this year. Early registration ended last Friday, so you'll need to visit the convention website (linked above) to get the lowdown on housing and registration on-site. Even so, I'd get my boots in gear and figure out how to get to Tampa in a few weeks.
Just think of me while you're there having a good time, and have a steak for me, please?