There is a certain type of cotton industry professional who gets a little misty-eyed when telling (mischievous) stories about the Beltwide Cotton Conferences from years past.
No, we’re not talking about the vast majority of Beltwide attendees. For most cotton producers and consultants, the Beltwide offers a very valuable opportunity to discuss agriculture’s most pressing issues with some of the brightest and most influential people in the industry. For them, the Beltwide can have a very real impact on the way their crop will turn out the following year.
But there is another type of Beltwide attendee for whom the action doesn’t really crank up until well after dinner. These folks – seed salesmen, equipment marketers and agriculture journalists to name a few – can work the sometimes 12-hour grind of the Beltwide workday with their minds singularly focused on a big meal and a late night of socializing with industry professionals.
I went to my first Beltwide Conferences back in January of 2009, which was the last time San Antonio played host to the event. Even then, I heard stories of the riotous late night antics from past Beltwide Conferences, when the events were more widely attended due in large part to cotton-based companies shepherding in their biggest clients. It seemed everyone had a funny story of late nights and hazy mornings from the halcyon days of the Beltwide.
This year, sadly, could be the last chance for most Beltwide attendees to enjoy the festivities. As you’ll read in the December issue of Cotton Grower magazine, organizers from the National Cotton Council say this will be the last year the Beltwide will exist in its current format. Beginning in 2014, the Conferences will focus strictly on their technical sessions, with an agenda catered to Extension researchers and consultants. In the December issue, Staff Contributor Jim Steadman uses an apt saying in his story on how the event is effectively coming to a close: Everything old will be new again. Here’s hoping ag journalists still receive an invite.
The 2013 version of the Beltwide Cotton Conferences will be focused on making cotton production a profitable venture next year. We’ve made that the theme of the December issue as well.
We do hope you’re planning on attending this last convening of the grand old Beltwide Cotton Conferences – set to begin on January 7 in San Antonio. If you do, you’re sure to see us there. Just don’t tell our boss if that happens after midnight. We’ll be sure to do the same.