Cattlemen herding to Owensboro Convention Center Thursday

Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer | Jim Gilles feeds soybean hulls to his Angus beef cattle on Wednesday at Gilles farms on Lee Rudy Road.

Downtown Owensboro will beef up on Thursday for the 2020 Kentucky Cattlemen's Association Convention and Ag Industry Trade Show.

Becky Thompson, the KCA's director of beef network, said more than 1,200 cattle producers from across the state are expected for the two-day event.

"It's our annual meeting; it's our annual business meeting and it's when our house delegates meet," Thompson said. "They appoint our leadership for the next year -- so yes, this is by far our biggest event for the year."

This is the second year in a row for the KCA to bring its convention and ag industry trade show. It returns again in 2021 before returning to Lexington for two years.

For Daviess County cattle producers such as Jim Gilles, there is a major convenience aspect to being in Owensboro along with the education and mingling with other farmers that come with the KCA's annual convention and ag industry trade show.

Gilles, a 31-year-old, fifth-generation farmer, said he benefited from attending last year's ag industry trade show.

"There are a lot of speakers they bring in from across the country; they talk about the cattle market or animal health," said Gilles who oversees 200 head of cattle. "It's a lot of good information and they have additional educational sessions where you can catch up on (the industry)."

This year's speakers include Dr. David Smith from Mississippi State's veterinary school, Dr. Dan Givens from Auburn University's veterinary school, and Dr. Jason Smith, assistant professor and extension beef cattle specialist from Texas A&M. They will speak from 9:30 to 11 a.m. on Thursday.

Thompson said another speaker of interest will be Sara Place with Elanco Animal Health.

"Sara will be talking to us about sustainability on the farm and some greenhouse emission issues," Thompson said.

Members will be updated on beef, communication and business reports as part of the event.

But it won't be all business. Activities such as the Battle of the Burger at 4:30 p.m. and trivia game night at 6:30 p.m. are part of Thursday's schedule.

According to the KCA, Kentucky is the largest cattle producing state east of the Mississippi River. The bluegrass state is home to more than 1.1 million beef cows and ranks 5th nationally in the total number of cattle farms. The KCA boasts 99 chapters in 120 counties, totaling 38,000-plus cattle producers.

In recent years, the KCA has rotated its convention between Lexington and Owensboro every two years. Owensboro is getting a third year because Lexington is renovating its convention space.

"We're a membership organization and our members come from all across Kentucky," Thompson said. "It's very beneficial to us to rotate locations for our events to accommodate all of our members. So Owensboro having a facility large enough to host all of our attendees and a large trade show under one roof is very beneficial. Lexington and Owensboro have the only two facilities large enough to host our event right now."

The convention begins at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday with the Beef Efficiency Conference with the trade show portion opening 30 minutes later. There is a $25 entry fee into the trade show.

The ag industry trade show ends Friday with the 6 p.m. banquet that will feature the 2019 KCA Hall of Fame inductions.

For a complete agenda of the KCA's convention, go to

Don Wilkins,, 270-691-7299

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