“Anybody who sells hay should be a member of this association,” says Larry Jones, an Oakland, TN, hay grower and new president of the National Hay Association (NHA). “It’s a great way to connect with other people in the hay business and learn about new and better ways of marketing hay. ”

For more than half of NHA’s 450 members, this is the week they will talk shop face to face. The organization’s 118th annual convention is being held in Salem, OR, starting today and continuing through Sept. 13.

Attending members will learn of the latest research on compressed baleage, an overview of the organic movement and hay production tips as well as enjoy several farm and industry tours.

During his one-year tenure, Jones will work to ensure a smooth transition to the group’s new executive director. Don Kieffer, who has served in the position for the past 25 years, will step down in early 2014.

“The executive director handles the day-to-day operations and is the No. 1 promoter of the association. Don has done an outstanding job for us. Replacing him isn’t going to be easy by any means,” he says.

Finding ways to attract new members will also be one of Jones’ top priorities. “Our numbers dropped a bit when the economy took a tumble a few years back. But for the past couple of years, it’s been holding pretty steady. Now we need to build that up again.”

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NHA’s recently revamped website, nationalhay.org, will be a valuable tool in the recruitment effort, he says (see “NHA Website Updates To Generate New Business”). “We’re still fine-tuning it, but there’s a lot of very good information on it. Anybody going to the site can get a good idea of who we are and what we do.”

Jones is reshaping a new strategy for exhibiting at major agricultural shows, too. NHA usually exhibits at World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI, and the National Western Stock Show in Denver, CO.  Its board of directors decided to discontinue its attendance at January’s National Western.

"The Denver show has turned into more of a consumer show over the years,” says Jones. “To get the biggest bang for our buck, we need to be where the livestock producers are concentrated. Also, the show there takes place over a two-week period. Our thinking is that we should be looking at shows that are three to four days long. That will allow us do several more shows each year.”

Jones can be contacted at 901-229-0720 or gjonesnpm@gmail.com.

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