Farm Talk

December 19, 2012

A century of excellence—KLA celebrates 100 conventions

by Brandi Buzzard

Parsons, Kansas — A lot changes in a century—100 years ago Tin Lizzies puttered down Main Street, the tragedy of the Titanic sent the world reeling and Americans were welcoming New Mexico and Arizona to the nation.

Although there have been a lot of changes in the past 100 years, there are some facets of life which have undergone little to no change. Life in rural America is still very much alive; producers still work from dawn till dusk and engage in the same practices that have time again proven to be cost effective and beneficial to their operations.

The Kansas Livestock Association Convention, which in late November celebrated its 100th anniversary in Wichita, is another tradition that hasn’t altered much in its mission or core values over a century either.

More than 600 livestock owners and feeders gathered at the Hyatt Convention Center to discuss policy measures, drought and animal health issues and more importantly, to devise plans and procedures to push forward in the coming year.

During a question and answer panel comprised of KLA’s veritable “old-timers”, KLA members had the opportunity to hear what the organization and convention were like in the old days. Attendees were regaled with stories of conventions of yesteryear when the event was a week-long affair and featured a square dance and a lively after party.

Attendees to the early conventions met with bankers and commissioners during the day and discussed taxes, freight rates, transportation and feeding contracts with fellow members. Self-proclaimed old timer Pat Sauble, who attended his first convention in 1937, recalls producers discussing herd health threats such as Anthrax, brucellosis and hoof and mouth. Sauble added that grass prices were a big concern at that time also, proving that forage acquisition and prices are trends that seem to stand the test of time.

The 100th convention for one of the oldest livestock organizations in the nation warrants first class entertainment and the KLA leadership team pulled out all the stops when they hosted political consultant Karl Rove as a keynote speaker. Although Rove was disappointed with the outcome of the presidential election, he didn’t fail to provide the audience members with surprising comedic relief as he recalled the political actions of the past several months.

He also shared his predictions of the outcomes of the upcoming lame duck session and spoke at great lengths about the recession and the unemployment rate.

Baxter Black, cowboy comedian, veterinarian and poet, was on hand the following night to entertain a packed house with his wit and humor about his adventures as a cattle rancher and veterinarian. From poems about uterine prolapse to pre-modernized potties, there was hardly a dull moment.

While other conventions sometimes focus on negative agendas, the 100th KLA Convention provided an upbeat and exciting program that left producers feeling confident about the future of the livestock industry.

Ken Stielow, another participant during the “old-timer” panel, said it best when he stated that at KLA Conventions many years ago “you were rubbing shoulders with good people; the kind of good people and leaders that KLA still attracts today” and that “young people need to get involved with the industry.”

Stielow also affirmed that “forty years ago, peer to peer relationships and networking were one of the most valuable assets of convention”—Something that still rings true today. £