Transition of the 2005 Cornbelt Cow-Calf Conference

Byron Leu, ISU Extension Livestock Field Specialist, Southeast Iowa

Problem

For 33 successful years, the Cornbelt Cow-Calf Conference (CCCC) was held at the Coliseum in Ottumwa, Iowa. During that time, the conference had become a regionally recognized program that brought beef producers, industry representatives, university researchers, and agency staff together to address cow-calf issues, management ideas, and technological advances. In 2003, the city of Ottumwa decided to demolish the aging Coliseum and replace the facility with a new and improved Civic Center. Because this process would span multiple years, the Cornbelt Cow-Calf Conference did not have an appropriate location/facility to support the program.

Response

Initially, the general committee explored potential southeast Iowa sites to determine if existing facilities would be available to host the event in 2005 and 2006. The search process produced only a few appropriate sites. However, the Vermeer Manufacturing site in Pella was available and did meet the physical needs of the event. Following interaction with the Vermeer group, the CCCC committee decided to sponsor the event at the Pella location. It should be noted that the flexibility of the Vermeer facilities expanded the educational opportunities of the event. In the past, the educational program had 5-6 presentations with little or no interaction with the attendees. However, at the Vermeer site, 13 presentations were included in the program, allowing attendees to pick and choose topics and/or presenters.

Impact

The transition of the Cornbelt Cow-Calf Conference from the Ottumwa Coliseum to the Vermeer Center was extremely successful. Without question, the CCCC committee and selected industry players were concerned about the future of the event. The program had a strong reputation for recruiting outstanding presenters, selecting topics that reflected industry challenges, and being flexible in adapting to the needs of the producer, agribusiness representative, and commercial exhibitor. With the relocation and new site, would the program lose its luster? According to the first year results, the answer would be “No.” The response of attendees (>60) indicated the 2005 program was well received. Almost unanimously, the questionnaire summary reflected that: 1) Producers and agribusiness representatives found the topics informative and relevant, 2) The breakout sessions were beneficial and should be continued in 2006, 3) Adequate time for viewing the over 70 exhibits was built into the one-day event, and 4) The facility met the needs of the participants. In 2005, approximately 525 producers and agribusiness people attended the program. These attendees were from 51 Iowa counties and seven other states. Over 70 exhibitors participated, sharing their products and services with the attending producers. Previous survey summaries have reflected that the Conference has created positive changes in producer's operations due to the educational segment and exhibitor involvement. The responses in 2005 indicated that positive changes continue to be incorporated into the operations of attending producers, with these changes increasing beef-related returns, improving production efficiency, while decreasing the labor inputs. The CCCC committee looks forward to delivering another high quality program in 2006!

August 29, 2005
107 -- Iowa Beef Center

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