MT FFA suspends convention amid coronavirus concerns

The convention is just one of several ag-related events in the country being cancelled.

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This story has been updated to indicate the Central Plains Dairy Expo now has been canceled, too.

GREAT FALLS, Mont. — The Montana FFA Association has announced it is suspending the 2020 State FFA Convention and CDE Days in Great Falls until further notice over fears related to coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19.

According to a Facebook post from the association, the decision was made by representatives from the Montana FFA Association, Montana State University Ag & Tech Department, Montana FFA Board of Trustees and the Montana FFA Foundation.

"This was not an easy decision to make, and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused in your convention planning," the Facebook post said. "The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that this virus has not yet peaked in the United States. Therefore, we cannot in good conscience ask convention attendees to travel when they may be putting their health and wellbeing at risk. The magnitude of the health and safety risk that this virus poses to students, stakeholders, and our community is unprecedented, and the Montana FFA is placing top priority on your safety."


The convention had been scheduled for March 25-28. No positive tests for coronavirus had been reported in Montana as of late Thursday afternoon. A Montanan in Maryland has tested positive but contracted the virus outside Montana and has not returned to the state.

Montana FFA is far from the only event in the ag world to be canceled, postponed or suspended.

That includes the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo — one of the largest events of its kind in the world. The event began in 1932 and now annually features 20 days of rodeo, entertainment, livestock shows and more. The city of Houston and its health department on March 11 ordered that the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo close.

The American Farm Bureau Federation canceled its Young Farmer and Rancher Conference, which had been scheduled for March 13-16 in Louisville. Barchart rescheduled its Grain Summit from May to August. The Public Lands Council canceled its upcoming 2020 Legislative Conference, which had been scheduled for the end of March in Washington.

Central Plains Dairy Expo on March 13 also was canceled, as the city of Sioux Falls, S.D., announced gatherings in city-owned facilities will be limited to less than 250 people through March 27.

"Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 and the desire of all interested parties to minimize further exposure to the virus, the Central Plains Dairy Expo scheduled for March 24-26, 2020, has been canceled," a notice said.

Jenny Schlecht is the director of ag content for Agweek and serves as editor of Agweek, Sugarbeet Grower and BeanGrower. She lives on a farm and ranch near Medina, North Dakota, with her husband and two daughters. You can reach her at or 701-595-0425.
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