As Chad Hale flies around the country, he inevitably talks with fellow travelers about the forage industry. Most of the time, the Byron Seed research and acquisitions manager gets the same response.
“They understand it’s not logical to feed corn to a cow that can live quite well on something else for at least a big portion of its diet,” says Hale, new president of the American Forage & Grassland Council (AFGC).
He says he explains AFGC’s central message – that forages are a high-value feed crop – up to 50 times a year. How many people, he wonders, would the group reach if every member spread the word? Hale isn’t sure, but he wants to find out.
Communication is the theme running through all the ideas Hale has for his year at the helm of AFGC, which brings together about 2,500 producers, researchers and industry folks from about 20 state and regional affiliate councils.
Hale, at 39, already has had a rich history with AFGC. On the board of directors for the better part of a decade, he also helped build an Oregon chapter from the ground up.
That experience helped him realize how important AFGC is to affiliate groups, and how many good ideas local leaders and members have. So Hale was especially encouraged that, at this year’s annual meeting, national leaders carved out time to listen to state presidents. It was a constructive session that Hale wants to make a recurring feature.
“We have an obligation to the folks who have chosen to be members – to give them information, give them networking opportunities – all the things being a member of an organization can do,” Hale says.
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The new president wants to double membership in the coming years, using current members as ambassadors and recruiters. If all members explain to their neighbors and friends the work that AFGC does and why it is important, they can reach farmers who aren’t members, he says.
AFGC has worked for many years with organizations like the National Hay Association, and it needs to explore working with other industry organizations, such as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), to see how their goals overlap and how they could benefit each other, he says.
“We say every cattleman should be a member of NCBA. But maybe they should also be a member of our organization to work on the other side of the equation, which is how do they have a cost-effective operation from a (forage) production standpoint. That is where AFGC fits in.”