Even though the conference only lasts three days, it will deliver a lot of information for any farmer, consultant, Extension agent/specialist, university official or industry sales representative.
Granted, the Beltwide differs from what we remember it to be in the 1980s, 1990s and on through 2013. But, the conference is still a valuable link to information for any person involved in the cotton industry. In fact, the Consultants Conference, which lasts for a day and a half, is one of the best overviews you’ll find.
If the Consultants Conference were the only event you attended during these three days, you would have gained access to a comprehensive look at the most important issues confronting cotton production. The Consultants Conference, in fact, will kick off the Beltwide with a half day session on Jan. 5, beginning at noon. Then, it will conclude with an all-day session on Jan. 6. You name the topic, and you’ll find it when you join the consultants for this meeting.
No Beltwide is complete without the Technical Conferences, which examine scientific topics ranging from agronomy to weed science. There will be 11 of these conferences running concurrently from Jan. 6 until Jan. 7.
The first Beltwide I attended was in 1992 at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville. I was on the Communications staff for the National Cotton Council, and this was in the days before the Internet, cell phones, laptops, Facebook and Twitter. Our staff had the overwhelming task of collecting copies of all speeches and presentations given during the week. It was an exhausting exercise, but we were motivated in the knowledge that we were delivering important information to the media.
Even if the logistics of the conference have changed in the past 20 years, the mission remains the same. In today’s highly competitive cotton production environment, everyone must stay updated. It’s not a choice. It’s a necessity.
As for whether you need to attend the BWCC in New Orleans, the answer is an emphatic “yes.” If you live in the Mid-South, it’s a short drive to the Crescent City, and the headquarters will once again be at the Marriott Hotel on Canal Street. And, yes, it’s conveniently located within walking distance of some of New Orleans’ best restaurants.
Our Cotton Farming staff has another reason to attend the Beltwide each year. And that’s because it’s where we honor the Cotton Consultant of the Year at a special reception. It’s a chance to meet many consultants and renew old friendships. We have always known that consultants were an important part of cotton production. But now it seems like their value is even more crucial as farmers try to implement the most updated management practices each year.
So, in case you are wondering, I’ll be disappointed if I don’t see you in New Orleans on Jan. 5-7. It’s worth your time and effort, and ultimately the cotton industry will be the beneficiary.
I’ll see you there.