If you want to talk with other harvesters, are looking for a deal on equipment or even tax advice, check out the blog and bulletin board on the U.S. Custom Harvesters Inc. (USCHI) Web site, www.uschi.com.

USCHI started in 1983 with the goal of serving as a link between harvesters and groups they work with, including farmers, businesses and government.

The bulletin board (under Member Services) allows USCHI members to post requests to buy or sell products, including equipment. The blog, called the Discussion Board, can be used by everyone, whether they're members or not. Some people post that they're looking for work or needing labor, but others discuss issues and even give weather updates. (Members can also buy classified ads on the Web site.)

The organization's main goal, however, is to help resolve problems or campaign for new or updated laws to help make harvesting easier. Although the bulk of its membership has been grain harvesters, USCHI is of interest to custom forage harvesters, too, says Tracy Zeorian, vice president of the organization and a wheat harvester from Manley, NE.

“The forage guys are starting to realize the benefit of being a member of U.S. Custom Harvesters,” Zeorian says. “We're all faced with the same things, whether you're a forage harvester or a grain harvester. We're all faced with the same issues with the DOT (Department of Transportation), with labor, insurance companies and with being on the road. It's the unity of being one voice that we're really after.”

The organization sends representatives to Washing-ton and to state government officials to fight for road, H2A foreign labor, fuel and other issues.

Its national convention is held the first Thursday through Saturday of March each year. This year, 785 people registered for the March 5-7 meeting in Topeka, KS.

Sessions included one on lien laws, letters of credit and other ways of protecting the business from non-payments. Foreign labor issues, safety, financial planning and negotiation skills were other speaker topics. Combine and forage harvester clinics were a part of the conference, too.

The next meeting will be held March 4-6, 2010, in Wichita Falls, TX.