The winter months for many Kansas farmers and ranchers allows a bit of a slower pace before the spring work really begins. While there are many producers in the thick of their calving or lambing seasons as well as feeding their livestock, for my family it means a season of completing projects in the shop, conducting maintenance on equipment that will be used in coming months and working in the office.

While there’s still plenty of work to be done during these months, there’s no doubt that as long as the weather cooperates, we can be a bit more flexible with our schedules.

Because of this potential flexibility allowed during the winter months, for many involved in agriculture it also means meeting season.

Compared to other times during the year, the winter months present many opportunities for producers to come together at a variety of in-person meetings and workshops. Though meetings also happen throughout the year – mostly by Zoom or webinars – the winter months are generally when the big get-togethers within agriculture take place.

Commodity-specific learning opportunities and conferences, annual meetings for state and national organizations, insurance or seed focused luncheons, research and extension workshops, as well as national trade shows and conventions are just a few of the many opportunities available for professional development, policymaking and networking for producers during the winter months.

Some of the largest conventions and tradeshows pique the interest of many because the locations are generally in warmer and sunnier areas of the country. 

In fact, many farm families plan their vacations around these industry focused events. For many, aside from the business that needs to be conducted, these events offer attendees options to participate in guided tours or experiences beyond the meetings and learning sessions. Add in the opportunity for the kids to enjoy some outdoor pool time or walking the floor of a tradeshow, and attending a winter event can easily become a highly anticipated family trip.

While it’d make more sense for us to take our family vacations when the kids are out of school in the summer months, that’s just not a reality for us and many others involved in production agriculture. 

If we take a family vacation during the summer months, it’s generally a last-minute, fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants kind of trip only following a good rain. However, in the winter months, the odds of planning in advance and preparing for a multi-day trip off the farm are much, much better – thanks in large part to agriculture’s winter meeting season.