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ANGUS TIMELY TOPICS

by: John Crouch
Executive Vice President, American Angus Association

Tales of Ireland

The World Angus Secretariat (Secretariat) is a federation of organizations representing each country in the world that has an Angus breed registry. The first registry in history was the Polled Cattle Society (later to become the Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society) with headquarters in Perth, Scotland. It was organized in 1879, followed by the American Aberdeen-Angus Breeders' Association formally organized four years later in 1883. The year 2008 marks the 125th anniversary of what is now called the American Angus Association.

Angus on the Emerald Isle

Originally, the Secretariat met every four years. However, beginning in 1995 with a Technical Meeting hosted by the Angus Society of South Africa, the Secretariat now meets every two years, alternating northern and southern hemispheres whenever possible. The 2007 Technical Meeting was capably organized and implemented by the Irish Angus Cattle Society, whose headquarters are located in the beautiful Irish city of Carrick on Shannon.

Ireland, aptly called the Emerald Isle, is a garden paradise that is home to 4 million people who live primarily in the 26 counties that comprise the mainland. It is principally agricultural in nature, with an abundance of rainfall, grass, crops and vegetables. There is no snow or frost; the climate is mild but extremely humid due to the record rainfall during the past year.

Some 90 people representing Australia, Canada, Denmark, Argentina, Sweden, New Zealand, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, South Africa and the United States gathered in Dublin Aug. 11 to kick off the 2007 meeting, which began with a reception and dinner in the Gresham Hotel on the River Liffey.

Plans to attend the Tullamore Show, the largest agricultural show and exhibition in Ireland, were upset as the entire event was cancelled at the last minute due to torrential rains. Instead the delegates and guests were treated to a tour of historic Dublin, which included a visit to the National Art Gallery and Museum and a walking tour of Trinity College, which was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I. Trinity College houses the famous Book of Kells, an ancient Latin rendition of the four Gospels written around 800 A.D. It was a fascinating study of history.

Global Angus enthusiasm

The actual meeting of the World Angus Secretariat began early Aug. 13 at the Hodson Bay Hotel in Athlone. In addition to this correspondent, representatives of the American Angus Association included President Jot Hartley; his father, Bob Hartley; and Dick Samuelson, all from Oklahoma.

The objectives of the World Angus Secretariat are to periodically convene representatives of official Angus breed registries together on a global basis and recommend uniform guidelines relative to programs that enhance Angus on an international basis. The 2007 agenda considered issues such as technologies involving blood-typing; DNA parent verification and diagnostic trait testing; cloning and embryo transfer procedures; policies for identifying genetic defects; youth programs; intellectual property issues; Angus branded beef programs and international genetic evaluation.

Through the entire deliberations, this scribe was vividly reminded that the challenges of a changing agricultural environment are similar in all countries. There was also the presence of a kindred spirit, a genuine feeling of the need for cooperation and an excitement for the Angus business never before experienced.

The remaining five days in the ever-present precipitation were spent touring farms, historic sites and places we had only read about or observed on television. Of particular interest was the abundance of medieval castles spread across the countryside, some of which were stops on the tour. Of course, a visit to Ireland would not have been complete without the opportunity to kiss the Blarney Stone.

I would certainly be remiss should I not pay tribute to the Irish Angus Cattle Society; its president, Norman Little; his wife, Joy; and Society Secretary Patsy Keenan for their attention to detail in organizing the meeting. Further tribute and praise must be paid to the Irish Angus Cattle Society members for hosting farm visits, herd tours and for displaying representative samples of their herds at two marketing facilities for the group to view. The enthusiasm displayed by our Irish brethren was infectious. It was a good time for Angus.

The next meeting of the World Angus Secretariat will be in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, in July 2009. Doug Fee, the staff and membership of the Canadian Angus Association are planning a great event in conjunction with the Calgary Stampede. Watch the Angus Journal for details.

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