The combined annual meeting of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation and the organization's Young Farmer and Agriculturist conference this weekend in Wisconsin Dells is surpassing previous record attendance levels.
Casey Langan, spokesman for WFBF, said the conference, at the Kalahari Resort, has been running close to capacity for the past few years, but this year's registration numbers show that the event is drawing more farm folks than even those previous crowds.
There are over 1,100 people expected for Saturday night's Extravaganza and Sunday morning's brunch, he said. There are also a record 500 people registered for Friday and Saturday's Young Farmer and Agriculturist Conference.
"That many people between 18 and 35 who are passionate about Wisconsin agriculture is a good sign for all of us," he said.
It is Wisconsin Farm Bureau's 94th annual meeting. A few years ago organizers decided to join that meeting with the Young Farmer and Agriculturist Conference and change the location to a resort in the Dells. It has boosted attendance as they had hoped.
At Sunday's session, Farm Bureau members will hear keynote speaker Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Awards will also be presented at that time to the three Young Farmer and Agriculturist contest winners.
At this year's annual meeting Farm Bureau members will hear from new president Jim Holte for the first time. He was elected to that post at the conclusion of last year's annual meeting, taking over for dairy farmer Bill Bruins. Bruins retired from the post last year and gave his farewell speech to members at that time.
Though they will conflict with a rescheduled Packers game, afternoon workshops on Sunday will be held at 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. Langan said. A reception will take place at 4 p.m. in the trade show area and at 5:30 p.m. the evening dinner will be served. An awards banquet will begin at 6:30 p.m.
The Young Farmer and Agriculturist conference begins at 2 p.m. Friday (Dec. 6) and the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting begins at noon on Saturday (Dec. 7.)
Sunday morning's schedule includes member discussions on resolutions and the Discussion Meet finals.
District caucuses will be held on Monday (Dec. 9) and the convention will conclude with the annual business meeting and finalization of resolutions that will dictate the will of the members in the coming year.
Speakers at the convention include Jude L. Capper, PhD talking about livestock sustainability issues and Kevin Doherty, Badgerland Financial, talking about financing a start-up farm. Other topics include Health Care Reform and farm equipment on Wisconsin roadways.
Roger Cliff is retiring after 40 years of service to Farm Bureau and Wisconsin agriculture. As Wisconsin Farm Bureau's top lobbyist, he was a driving force behind passage of the state's right-to-farm and use value assessment laws.
For past 10 years he has been the organization's Chief Administrative Officer — a newly created position when he stepped into it. His work culminated in the WFBF receiving the Pinnacle Award – the highest recognition given by the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Wisconsin Farm Bureau members and officials have begun a campaign to raise $40,000 to endow one of Cliff's favorite programs, the collegiate Farm Bureaus, along with other WFB Foundation programs and that will be a focus of this year's conference.