Ranchers across the country will want to tune in for the Ranchers’ Forum. The forum is scheduled for the Society for Range Management's annual meeting on Jan. 31, 2012. Topics include: keeping the family ranch in the family, crooked calf syndrome, and sage grouse and the Endangered Species Act. Although the forum will be held in Spokane, it will be available nation-wide by webinar. The Forum will run from 8:45 a.m. to 4:50 p.m. PST.

Ron Hanson, an agricultural economist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a speaker well known to farm audiences, will kick off the Forum with a humorous and thought provoking presentation addressing "what-if family issues" focused on passing a ranching operation from one generation to the next while avoiding personal conflicts, feuds, and a mess of legal problems.

An overview of crooked calf syndrome, a calf deformity caused by pregnant cows feeding on the native plant lupine, will be addressed by retired Washington State University veterinarian Clive Gay, eastern Washington rancher Roy Clinesmith, and USDA Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory toxicologist Kip Panter. Crooked Calf Syndrome periodically plagues ranchers in certain geographical areas of the west, and calf losses can be severe.

“Could sage grouse become the rancher’s spotted owl?” will be addressed by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Mike Schroeder, Marten Law environmental attorney Jessica Ferrell, USDA NRCS Sage Grouse Initiative coordinator Tim Griffiths, and University of Montana Sage Grouse Initiative science advisor David Naugle.

The Society for Range Management offers a special, reduced registration fee of $75 for the Ranchers’ Forum. A registration form and flier are available here. For accommodation of special need, or for more information, contact Tom Platt, plattom@wsu.edu, 509-725-4171.