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December 27, 2023
Soon you will be taking down the tree, packing away the decorations, eating your last Christmas cookie and ringing in the New Year. That can mean only one thing — farm meeting season is just around the corner.
January traditionally kicks off the farm meeting season in Wisconsin. I’m not sure why that is, but I think Extension agents, agribusinesses and farm organizations figure farmers have little else to do in January besides chores, reading farm magazines and trying to stay warm.
Whatever the reason, make plans to attend at least a couple of meetings this winter. Farm meetings offer valuable information, a change of pace, and an opportunity to talk to people you have never met or perhaps catch up with someone you haven’t seen in a while.
One of my favorite winter meetings to attend is the Wisconsin Corn/Soy Expo at the Kalahari Resorts and Conventions at Wisconsin Dells. This year, the two-day event will be held Feb. 1-2.
There are always great speakers, including Angie Setzer, “Goddess of Grain.” She has been in the cash grain industry for over 18 years and has dedicated her career to learning the ins and outs of the cash grain business from both the commercial and the farmer side.
A Market Development Panel will discuss how checkoff funds are used to increase grain markets and build markets, while Illinois grain and beef farmer Matt Bennett, co-founder of AgMarket.net, will discuss grain marketing.
U.S. Rep. Derrick Van Orden, R-Prairie du Chien, a member of the House Ag Committee, will deliver his view of farm policy and how it will impact the farm bill.
There also will be a number of breakout sessions featuring Wisconsin ag professionals. What I especially enjoy is that these breakout and general sessions are broken up by lunch and a trade show, where you can walk through nearly 130 exhibits. This is where you get a chance to meet, discuss and network as much as you want.
Another nice thing about Corn/Soy Expo is that it is held at the Kalahari and rooms are at reduced rates Feb. 1-3. Load up the family or just bring your spouse. They can entertain themselves in the hotel’s indoor waterpark all day while you are at the expo.
The Wisconsin Ag Outlook Forum at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is another meeting I try to attend every year. This year’s forum will be held Jan. 23 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at UW-Madison Union South, 1308 West Dayton St. in Madison. It is open to the public. Professors from the UW-Madison College of Ag and Life Sciences will recap how dairy, beef, hogs, corn, soybeans and vegetable crops did in 2023, and offer insight into what they think will happen in 2024.
The registration fee of $50 covers the forum, lunch, breaks and a reception. Online registration closes Jan. 19. The forum will also be livestreamed for those not able to attend and will be made available on the Renk Agribusiness Institute YouTube page. No registration is required. You can watch it for free, and you don’t have to drive to Madison. More information about the forum can be found on the Renk Agribusiness Institute website.
You don’t have to attend statewide farm meetings to get cutting-edge information about agriculture. A lot of county Extension offices hold meetings and seminars during the winter months that provide information on everything from agronomy, dairy and beef to transitioning the farm to the next generation. You can get a whole day’s worth of information for a few dollars that covers the cost of lunch and materials.
So, if it’s been a while since you have been to a farm meeting, get out this winter, attend a couple of events, learn a thing or two, and meet some new people.
Wisconsin Agriculturist Editor
Even though Fran was born and raised on a farm in Illinois, she has spent most of her life in Wisconsin. She moved to the state when she was 18 years old and later graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a bachelor's degree in journalism.
Fran has 25 years of experience writing, editing and taking pictures. Before becoming editor of the Wisconsin Agriculturist in 2003, she worked at Johnson Hill Press in Fort Atkinson as a writer and editor of farm business publications and at the Janesville Gazette in Janesville as farm editor and feature writer. Later, she signed on as a public relations associate at Bader Rutter in Brookfield, and served as managing editor and farm editor at The Reporter, a daily newspaper in Fond du Lac.
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