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A 40-year tradition of change

By Staff | Feb 25, 2011

OTTUMWA – An annual agriculture event has succeeded every year for four decades because supporters have been willing to change it.

The Cornbelt Cow-Calf Conference begins with registration and the open trade show at 7:30 a.m. and the welcome at 9 a.m. Saturday at Bridge View Center. Admission is $15 which includes lunch and conference proceedings. No preregistration is necessary

Iowa State University Extension beef program specialist Byron Leu said the conference is run by a volunteer board with help from ISU and other groups.

In its early days, he said, the CCCC’s presentation and exhibits were production-oriented. Now the topics are much more varied. That’s because the audience has changed somewhat. So has the conference.

“In the 40 years, realize the industry itself has changed,” Leu said. “The average carcass weight in 1972 was a little over 1,000 pounds. Now it’s 1,350 pounds. Another example is that cow numbers have declined in Iowa about 50 percent. But that 50 percent are producing more meat per carcass. And we have fewer farmers in every county, needless to say.”

It’s the presenters who’ve kept the audience abreast of changes, he said. And it’s the CCCC volunteer boards that have sought out the most knowledgeable speakers – industry leaders, researchers and top producers.

Vendors also bring their most up-to-date innovations to the conference, Leu said.

There are a couple of special 40th anniversary gifts for the public, he said.

For one thing, the event will be bigger, because to show they recognize the importance of the CCCC, the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association has moved its annual convention and trade show to the CCCC event.

“We’re also going to have some time blocked off Saturday after the noon break period, probably around 1 p.m.,” Leu said. “We’re going to put together a little DVD that we can play a little bit of the history, an overview and how things have changed. [It features] the programs, exhibitors, the steering committee, the general committee. We’ve got the interviews done, some pictures collected and a little bit more to do.”

Leu has been part of the volunteer committee that oversees the conference for 25 years, both on the general committee and as chair of the program committee.

“We count between 500 and 550 in total attendance annually, including a consistent percentage of Iowa’s cow-calf producers,” Leu said. “That’s a good indication to us of the program’s value to producers.”

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