President's Notes

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Now’s the Time to Start Planning Your Annual Convention Trip

Mike Corn, ASI President
Recent conference calls of our councils and committees have put planning for the 2019 ASI Annual Convention on the front burner for those volunteer chairs, the executive board and the association’s staff. New Orleans is less than three months away, and it’s time that you start making plans now.

As you read this, registration for the convention is now available online at Sheepusa.org/Events_2019Convention. Take a few minutes to check out the website and you’ll start to get a feel for all that this year’s convention will offer for participants. This is the first time that the Crescent City has hosted our convention, and we’re planning an event second to none. I hope you will join us there as all facets of the American sheep industry convene at the New Orleans Marriott for what I hope will be the biggest and best ASI Convention in our 154-year history.

Here are some great reasons to attend in January:

• Speakers: We’ll kick things off with Alicia Rainwater – a millenial who has a reputation as a leader in her own generation – at our Opening Session on Jan. 24. She’ll take a look at bridging the generation gap in our industry. Buckaroo poet Waddie Mitchell will offer his own brand of ranch wit and wisdom at our Saturday luncheon on Jan. 26. From his earliest days on the remote Nevada ranches where his father worked, Waddie was immersed in the cowboy way of entertaining, the art of spinnin’ tales in rhyme and meter that came to be called cowboy poetry.

• Tours: We’ll provide attendees and their guests plenty of chances to get an up-close look at all New Orleans has to offer. The week opens with our Experience the Mississippi Delta Ecosystem tour on Wednesday, Jan. 23. Participants will have a front-row seat as they explore the natural, cultural and economic importance of the Mississippi River. This insider’s perspective on New Orleans and its coastal communities, takes participants off the beaten path to explore the region’s greatest natural asset. Many in the sheep industry can’t even begin to imagine living in a world with this much water. But that still creates problems just as much as the lack of water that I deal with in my part of the country. You won’t want to miss the locally-sourced seafood lunch on this tour.

During the week, tours of the city as a whole, Mardi Gras World and the World War II Museum will also be offered. Do you know why the WWII Museum calls New Orleans home? Join us in January and find out for yourself.

• Business. While we all like to have a good time when we get together, we’ll also be devoting plenty of attention to the business of the sheep industry. It’s during this gathering that we set priorities, discuss solutions and look for avenues of growth for the industry as a whole. It’s the one time each year in which the industry comes together in one central location, as we’ll be joined by representatives from the American Lamb Board, ASI Women, Make It With Wool, National Lamb Feeders Association, National Sheep Improvement Program, National Sheep Industry Improvement Center and others.

ASI councils and committees each have their specific meeting slots during the national convention and the volunteers are locking in the priority topics and expert speakers to discuss them with producers and wool, lamb and pelt business leaders. Among the issues I heard discussed for agendas include the USDA policy of insufficient scrapie tags free of charge to producers, the latest game changing research involving wild sheep disease, the seasonality of American lamb and lamb marketing, and Let’s Grow genetic improvement projects. The lamb and wool councils will have the leading businesses in the industry discussing market and trade issues in light of recent trade wars.  

Regardless of your particular place in the industry, there are plenty of great reasons to join us When the Sheep Go Marching In to New Orleans on Jan. 23-26, 2019.

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