By the time many of you read this, everybody will have returned home, unpacked suitcases and sorted through a lot of notes after the recent trip to the Beltwide Cotton Conferences in Orlando. It was an excellent meeting with an estimated attendance of around 2,200. Considering that most school kids headed back to the classroom after New Year’s Day, that’s a pretty good turnout for any conference.
With elections and a Farm Bill on the horizon for 2012, the cotton industry has more than enough on its plate to keep everyone busy for the next 12 months. I have said it many times, and I’m sure my fellow ag media friends will echo these thoughts. The BWCC is a special meeting because it has something for everybody associated with cotton production.
No matter where you went in the huge World Center Marriott, there was an impressive array of information available for attendees. This Production Conference, coupled with the Technical Conferences, covers every facet of what it takes to succeed in cotton production. And what about social media? You could have even found something on that subject at the meeting in Orlando. That’s how current and relevant the information is.
My connection to this conference goes back to 1992 when I attended my first Beltwide at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville. I was still working for the National Cotton Council in the Communications Department. My job that week, besides assisting Cotton Nelson in the media room, was to help the many farm broadcasters who were on the scene. Not surprisingly, there were a lot more broadcasters covering the Beltwide in those days. The environment was so much different. We didn’t have cell phones, Blackberrys or I-Phones. And there weren’t many laptop computers visible either. We relied on fax machines to transmit stories to important contacts around the country.
And, since CDs and DVDs hadn’t been invented, we relied on a printed Beltwide proceedings book for reference purposes. However, that book usually wasn’t available until several months after the conference concluded.
I could go on and reminisce about the old days, but I won’t. I mention all of of this to re-emphasize the point that a lot has happened in the last 20 years. Somehow, the industry has adjusted and adapted to all of the technology that has come down the pike. But the knowledge gained at the Beltwide for media reps and attendees can’t be underestimated. It is always a non-stop, demanding event that goes from breakfast meetings to dinners later in the evening.
The BWCC in Orlando was another chapter in a big scrapbook of memories. Here’s hoping that many of us can see each other again at other meetings in the next couple of months. Safe travels to everyone.