The new president of the American Forage and Grassland Council (AFGC) wants the organization to make itself known in Washington. Howard Straub, St. Johns, MI, is a well-known grazier named president at AFGC's annual conference, held June 12-15 at French Lick, IN.

"Through the next few months, my goal and plan is to have a greater legislative appearance with our legislators and the people who represent USDA," Straub told the crowd of university researchers and Extension experts, company representatives and farmers and ranchers.

"We've been through serious cuts at universities and research stations, and I think we need to support the universities and the people who do the research. It is imperative to our young people coming up that they have the same opportunities and education and the newest types of grasses and forage that we can possibly give them to survive. We need to support the forage industry."

Straub and his wife, Mary Jo, transitioned from a confinement dairy to a rotational, seasonal grazing system in 1992 and now milk about 100 Holstein, Jersey and New Zealand Friesian cross cows on 250 acres.

The new president also urged members to seek out new members. "Numbers make a difference in Washington. So I want each one of you to go home and, if you have neighbors who are not members of the local forage council, sign them up. If we can go to congressmen and say we have so many farmers who grow forage, we'll have a better chance of getting done what we want to get done."

The annual AFGC conference and tours, usually held in June each year, will be separate events in 2012. The conference, as well as its photo, forage spokesperson and emerging scientist contests, will be held Jan. 9-11 at the Crowne Plaza, Louisville, KY. The 2012 national tour, hosted by the Arkansas Forage and Grassland Council, as well as the national hay contest, will be held next May.

Award winners from the 2011 conference will be listed on