By René Hardwick
Director of Public and Industry Relations
National Onion Association
Image courtesy of René Hardwick
A year ago, convention wasn’t possible for the National Onion Association. Staff members, however, hitched their train to America’s online Zoomfest and muscled through with a summer meeting by the button. But how could it ever be the same?
The NOA’s members have been meeting every summer for decades.
Meeting online may have kept us safe; it may have been more convenient for members to at least attend. But it was definitely not the same as the handshake, the shared laugh or the promise of mutual commerce.
There’s a certain amount of energy that comes from meeting in person. Old friends catch up, new business deals are made, and a lot of that happens in the same room.
So this year, the traditional convention is back on. And the NOA can’t wait to get its members together. Not only do members have some important things to talk about; there are stories to be shared among old friends.
This summer, the NOA is sticking with the original summer convention plans since the lockdown started – Nashville, TN. They’ve retained the Downtown Hilton Garden Inn for accommodations – and don’t forget the annual auction.
It all goes down July 14-17.
While all plans are not fully cemented, the NOA does have quite the starting line-up. The events will begin with a Wednesday evening reception and registration. Thursday will be about committee meetings, speakers, and a great evening out on the town. On Friday, get ready for the summer banquet and auction, with Austin Booker.
The convention will be themed around transportation, given the myriad issues the industry has had transporting onions in the last year. The onion industry will directly benefit from legislation that allows the industry to find more workers, which will increase availability of trucks, which will in turn reduce rates.
Transportation issues also span the globe, so expect to hear discussion on container transportation with Asia. First on the list of speakers to address this topic is Peter Friedmann, director of the AgTC (Agriculture Transportation Coalition) and a founding member of the agency more than 30 years ago. He plays a key role in developing U.S. and international transportation policy.
“As Counsel for the U.S Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Peter was responsible for drafting the Ocean Shipping Act and has drafted numerous other transportation laws, including Jones Act amendments, and the funding mechanisms by which ports and inland waterways are dredged and operated,” according to agtrans.org.
“Since leaving Capitol Hill, Peter has been a leading advocate for shipper and international trade interests before Congress, the Federal Maritime Commission, and other federal agencies.”
This event is evolving as we speak. Members who wish to attend must register for the convention by June 4 and book their rooms by June 11. The cost is $550 per person, and room rates are $199 per night.
Nonmembers who would like to attend must be sponsored by a current member.
Feel free to call the NOA office with any questions on how to attain a sponsor, or any other questions at (970) 353-5895.
Nashville has recently opened up, so masks may not be required. Vaccinations remain highly encouraged, however.