The National Cotton Council-coordinated Beltwide Cotton Conferences has a new format that no longer includes the production conference component but continues the forum’s technical conferences and adds emphasis to the consultants conference.
How is the Conferences’ format changing?
The 2014 Beltwide Cotton Conferences, set for Jan. 6-8 at the New Orleans Marriott Hotel, will include a half-day Cotton Consultants Conference and the day and a half Cotton Technical Conferences. The 2014 Consultants Conference, set for Monday, Jan. 6, will be more robust, providing technical information desired by consultants and others involved in key production/marketing-related decisions such as Extension specialists/agents, industry sales/support personnel and many producers. It also will feature new developments from industry, including discussions of new varieties and chemi-stries. There also will be special sessions where scientists from the various disciplines, ran-ging from agronomy to weed science, will interact with attendees to foster a lively exchange of ideas and experiences.
The Beltwide will continue to offer continuing education units or “CEUs” and serve as the venue for the following recognition events: The Cotton Foundation/Farm Press Publications’ High Cotton Awards, Cotton Grower magazine’s Cotton Achievement Award and Cotton Farming magazine’s Consultant of the Year. The National Cotton Ginners Association will continue to conduct meetings in conjunction with the Beltwide Cotton Conferences. For the 2014 Beltwide, self-registration will be available 24 hours a day during the Conferences, beginning the evening of Jan. 5 while the same can be done at a staffed registration desk that will open on the morning of Jan. 6. More information about the 2014 Conferences, including its schedule and the host city, can be accessed at www.cotton.org/beltwide/.
Why the format change?
The Beltwide Cotton Conferences have been changed primarily because producer attendance has declined – from a high of 770 in 1997 to an average of just more than 200 for the last few years. During that time, more producers have obtained information from other places, including online resources and the growing number of regional educational meetings. In the absence of the Beltwide Cotton Production Conference and its related workshops, the NCC is working with other industry and government organizations to provide input and assistance as needed with existing regional production meetings. Additionally, the NCC will continue to develop special programs of local/regional interest when appropriate.
The NCC is maintaining its strong commitment for obtaining the necessary resources for leading-edge cotton research and technology development/transfer to producers and other industry members. The more compact Beltwide format will allow the NCC to realign its staff resources to better serve the ongoing and critical need for this technology transfer. The NCC will continue to plan and manage “the Beltwide” in its new format and continue publishing and distributing the Conferences Proceedings. Potential improvements to this forum will continue to be considered to ensure that it is meeting the cotton industry’s needs. Accordingly, arrangements already have been made for the Marriott Rivercenter in San Antonio to host the 2015 Beltwide.
Mark Lange is the president and chief executive officer for the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this Cotton Farming page.