KPA News


Calendar of Events

Sept. 22- Manhattan Blood Drive

Oct. 8- Independence Blood Drive 

Oct. 10- K-State Pork Tailgate 


Find the latest state, national, and international news that can affect your business. KPA staff preview several sources to deliver information that is tailored to Kansas pork producers. For questions or comments, contact the KPA office.

Kansas Pork Association
2601 Farm Bureau Road
Manhattan, KS 66502
phone: (785) 776-0442
fax: (785) 776-9897

October 2, 2015 

Pork Producers Connect Farm to Fork during October Pork Month

October became known as Pork Month because it marked the time of year when hogs were traditionally marketed. Today, it serves as a celebration to thank pork producers and share their stories with consumers. 

“If you eat, you have a connection to a farmer every day,” said Tim Stroda, KPA President-CEO. “October Pork Month is an opportunity to refresh the connection consumers have with farmers. Our mission is to produce safe, nutritious food in a responsible manner for families across the United States and around the world.” 

In 2008, pork producers adopted six We CareSM ethical principles at the National Pork Industry Forum. The pork industry follows the six guiding ethical principles of the We Care initiative to maintain a safe, high-quality pork supply. Producers are committed to:

  • Producing safe food;
  • Safeguarding natural resources in all industry practices;
  • Providing a work environment that is safe and consistent with the industry’s other ethical principles;
    • Contributing to a better quality of life in communities;
    • Protecting and promoting animal well-being; and
    • Ensuring practices to protect public health.

“The ethical principles define our farmers’ values and who they are,” said Stroda. “Consumers can be confident that the pork they eat was raised using these ethical principles.”

Pork is the world’s most widely eaten meat, representing 36 percent of all meat consumed, according to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.

According to retail scanner data from June 30, 2014, to June 28, 2015, the top five most popular pork cuts sold are boneless New York chops, back ribs, bone-in chops, spareribs and boneless tenderloin.

In terms of sales, boneless New York Chops accounted for more than $836 million, back ribs more than $674 million, bone-in chops more than $432 million, spareribs more than $352 million and boneless tenderloin more than $398 million.

“Consumers recognize the versatility of serving pork in their homes,” Stroda said. “Cook pork until the internal temperature reaches between 145 degrees and 160 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by a three-minute rest, this will ensure flavorful and tender pork on the plate.” 


October 1, 2015 

Farm Food Tour connects consumers to agriculture

Questions regarding food safety and concerns about farming practices continue to be on the forefront of the consumer mind. In an effort to answer some of these questions, The Kansas Soybean Commission, Kansas Pork Association and Kansas Farm Bureau hosted a Farm Food Tour that offered a unique experience to visit with producers and industry professionals. Influential consumers, those who have a role in educating and communicating about food and nutrition, including registered dietitians and lifestyle bloggers, were invited to attend.

The group spent three days traveling to locations in Kansas, Missouri and Illinois, visiting Merck Animal Health, Monsanto, The Maschhoffs and Central Missouri Meat and Sausage. The tour addressed concerns such as antibiotic use, hormones, GMOs, and how livestock are processed.

"I really enjoyed seeing the science that goes into the technology being used," said Anna Binder, registered dietitian. 

Binder says learning about the use of antibiotics and vaccines in regard to animal care is one of the most valuable points she took away from the tour.

"Food labeling would have us think that most of the meat on the market is tainted with 'harmful antibiotics', which I learned is simply not true. With a better understanding of the technology, I'm able to better answer questions for my patients and concerns that my clients have about where our food comes from."

Attendees were given surveys before and after the tour to determine how informed they were on these the topics of antibiotics, hormones and GMOs.

"We saw very favorable shifts in the level of knowledge of our attendees," said Jodi Oleen, KPA Director of Consumer Outreach. "Survey analysis provided us with information showing this tour created a higher level of confidence in today's farming methods."

To see more about what the group learned, search #farmfoodtour on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or Periscope.


September 30, 2015

Pork Signals: Increasing competition

Higher Meat Consumption Expected
The supply of competing meats is increasing. Lower feed costs have made meat production more profitable which, in turn, is driving expansion. USDA is forecasting production of red meat and poultry will be up 2.9 percent in 2016 with pork production up only 0.5 percent. That combination means the production of competing meats will be up 3.7 percent. Given that situation, it is very likely 2016 hog prices will be lower than this year.

The overall situation is not quite so gloomy, because USDA also expects U.S. exports of pork, beef, chicken and turkey to increase in 2016. The net amount of meat on the U.S. market is expected to be up 2.2 percent next year, which is more than double the population growth. Per capita meat consumption is forecast to increase by two pounds compared to this year and reach the highest level since 2008.

Pork Prices Up, Then Down
The last two years have been a roller coaster ride for the pork industry. Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus dropped 2014 hog slaughter 4.6 percent below the 2013 level, which was the biggest year-over-year decline since 1985. Better management of the disease has led to 2015 hog slaughter being up 8-9 percent, the biggest year-over-year increase since 1998. 

This big production swing has had a huge impact on prices. Market hog prices were up 18.7 percent in 2014 and down 35 percent this year. The price swings would have been worse, but with slaughter down sharply in 2014, pork producers pushed slaughter weights up an average of 8.4 pounds per hog.

With slaughter up this year, weights are down. Barrow and gilt weights dropped below the year-earlier level in late March and stayed there, offsetting some of the extra pork coming from increased slaughter.

Don’t Forget Impact of Variety Meats
Most pork trade attention gets focused on the movement of pork muscle meats. However, what happens to the rest of the hog, the pork variety meats, is also important. Since many variety meats are not popular with American consumers, the export market is crucial to capturing value.

Last year, the United States exported 1.16 billion pounds of pork variety meats worth slightly over $1 billion. That number equaled 18.4 percent of the value of pork muscle exports. Our four biggest customers were Mexico, China, Hong Kong and Japan. 

During the first half of 2015, pork byproduct exports were down 10 percent by weight and 14 percent in value. The decline is due in part to a strong dollar, making all U.S. products more expensive to foreign buyers. The decline is also because of ongoing trade issues. During the first half of 2015, pork shipments to China were down 53 percent and variety meats were down 27 percent, in part because of the Chinese ban on ractopamine.    

A Cyclical Business
The hog cycle continues. Although not as consistent as in the past, hog production and prices cycle because producers respond to profitability.  As evident in the chart below, pork production is both seasonal and cyclical. Hence, profitability follows the same pattern. Profits are much more likely to be earned on hogs marketed during the summer than those marketed in the winter. Years with a lot of red ink usually lead to a smaller herd and a return of black ink. The ink has never been blacker than it was in 2014 because of PEDv, with an average profit of $61.85 per head according to Iowa State University.

2016 Looks Like a Breakeven Year

Based on current futures contracts for hogs and feed, it looks like 2016 will be slightly better than a breakeven year with red ink in the first quarter, profits during midyear, and then more red ink in the fourth quarter. A lot of uncertainty remains, both for revenue and for expenses. 


September 21

Consumers {heart} Pork Checkoff commercials

The Pork Checkoff’s new TV commercials get your toes tapping and mouth watering, and according to the National Pork Board, the commercials are also hitting the mark with consumers.

The spots began airing in mid-May and will run through this weekend on 25 national cable networks including HGTV, Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, DIY Network, History, CMT, Food Network, Cooking Channel, TLC and GSN.

“The ads include new, original music with the song ‘Make it Like This!’ and showcase creative, delicious pork dishes,” said Laurie Bever, director of consumer advertising for the Pork Checkoff. “We have received positive feedback on the TV spot, which encourages consumers to visit to find new pork recipes to try.”

Watch 15-second commercial

Watch 30-second commercial


September 18

National Pork Board Names Dave Pyburn, DVM, to Lead Science and Technology

The National Pork Board announced that Dave Pyburn, DVM, has been named the new senior vice president of science and technology. Pyburn joined the Pork Checkoff staff in 2013 and was serving as assistant vice president in the Science and Technology department.

As senior vice president of science and technology, Pyburn will report to Chief Executive Officer Chris Hodges and lead the science programs and research priorities of the National Pork Board. He will also participate in the six volunteer pork producer committees that assist in prioritizing scientific focus and will manage the on-staff team of experts.

“Dr. Pyburn is a respected and demonstrated leader in the swine science industry and has proven himself as both a qualified academic, and as a leader of his team,” said Hodges. “Dave’s professional history encompasses on-the-farm practical work, government experience and he was also previously the director of veterinary science at the National Pork Producers Council. Dave has many progressive ideas for this team and our industry, and we are looking forward to him starting his new role immediately.”

Through his more than 20 years of professional experience, Pyburn has developed a comprehensive view of all aspects of pork production. That includes specific areas of expertise including animal science, swine health and welfare, pork safety and nutrition, producer and public health and sustainability. This complete view of the swine industry is key to address the science and technology challenges and opportunities that face the industry.

“People want to understand where their food comes from, and so much of that work in the pork industry is through science and research,” said Pyburn. “How we communicate to pig farmers, allied industry, key influencers and academics and the science community is critical. I look forward to sharing the strong work and story of continuous improvement that the Pork Checkoff has led over the past two decades.”

Pyburn joined the National Pork Board in 2013, and previously served 13 years as the senior veterinary medical officer at the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services. In that role, he was responsible for setting the department’s priorities, budget and implementation of swine health programs. Pyburn was with the National Pork Producers Council from 1997 to 2000 and, prior to that, a practicing veterinarian in Iowa.

Pyburn is a published researcher and presenter. He is also a member of several professional organizations including American Veterinary Medical Association, Iowa Veterinary Medical Association, United States Animal Health Association, National Institute for Animal Agriculture, and American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV). Through AASV, he currently serves on the Foreign Animal Disease Committee, the Pork Safety Committee and the Influenza Committee.

Pyburn has his undergraduate degree from Drake University, Des Moines, and earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (with distinction) from Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. Pyburn and his family live in Ankeny, Iowa.

The National Pork Board will begin an immediate search for an assistant vice president in the Science and Technology department in order to fill the role that Pyburn leaves open with this move.

Original release September 8, National Pork Board.


September 17

KPA attends Chick Events

The Kansas Pork Association spiced things up at bit at the second annual Chick Events: Handmade and Vintage last weekend in Leawood. In partnership with The Culinary Center of Kansas City (CCKC), KPA featured a "Build Your Own Pork Rub" station in which visitors were able to make and take their own spice rub. 

CCKC chef Sandy DiGiovanni gave demonstrations throughout the weekend on how to prepare skillet pork chops with apples, bacon and onions, as well as provided additional pork-cooking tips. Visitors to the KPA booth also walked away with pork recipes and information on the cuts of pork and how to cook them.

"Attendees loved our interactive booth,and Chef Sandy really had the audience engaged. It was a great event," said Kim Hanke, KPA Director of Communications. 

The event took place September 12-13 at Park Place in Leawood, Kan., and featured over 95 vendors specializing in handmade, homemade, art and vintage products. There were also pop-up food stands, live music on the lawn and a children's booth.

"We were excited to be one of the main sponsors for this event again this year," said Jodi Oleen, KPA Director of Consumer Outreach. "Our partnership with the Culinary Center was a great way to provide pork cooking tips and encourage pork purchases at the meat case."

Over 7,500 people attended the two-day event. Proceeds benefited local non-profit partner REbel. To learn more about Chick Events and its partners, visit www.


September 16

What happens when food marketers require restrictive farming practices?

Food characteristics that matter to some intermediary buyers or consumers now include specifics of the production process (e.g., use of chemicals, geographic location of the farm, or treatment of farm animals), perceived fairness of marketing arrangements to farmers or farm laborers, and perceived implications of production and consumption of the product for the environment. New demands on producers and marketers have been met by innovative market responses that have expanded consumer choices. For example, more food is now marketed as locally grown, and niche producers and marketers have emerged to meet demands for free-range meats and cage-free eggs.

However, one response to emerging buyer interests in food products can actually reduce consumer choice and increase food costs. Our recent research shows that a common result may be that restaurant chains, food-service operators, or grocers offer only a limited number of food items produced using tightly specified processes instead of offering a selection of products with alternative bundles of characteristics.

Intermediary buyers have long specified the observable attributes of the products they seek to acquire, but now some are seeking deeper involvement in the production chain by specifying production and marketing practices such as traceability, environmental standards, animal-welfare requirements, labor standards, and other means to meet "sustainability" criteria. Such actions may be motivated by demands of final-product consumers, but they also seem to be inspired by external pressures from groups such as the Humane Society and notions of corporate responsibility, even with limited demand for the practices by the final-product consumers.

Examples of buyer restrictions on animal production practices include requiring cage-free eggs and pork products produced without the use of gestation crates and with specific limits on the use of antibiotics, including for growth promotion or disease prevention (GPDP). Burger King, Hyatt, and Sodexo have announced that they plan to sell only products made from cage-free eggs. Chipotle sells only pork that it claims is "all-natural," and "antibiotic-free." McDonald's is contemplating related standards for its suppliers. Restaurant chains such as Applebee's, Denny's, and grocery retailer Safeway are among key buyers embarking on a program to eliminate gestation crates from their pork supply chains. Examples of restrictions on products made from plant materials include General Mills requiring non-genetically modified inputs for its Cheerios cereal, Post doing the same for its Grape-Nuts cereal, and Walmart announcing recently that it has joined the "fair food program" intended to guarantee better conditions for workers in Florida's tomato fields and possibly other crops.

Our study examined the case when intermediary buyers impose restrictive farm production practices and traces the economic impacts on producers and consumers. We applied the analysis to proposed restrictions on pork production practices, focusing specifically on the prohibition of use of antibiotics for GPDP.

Original article


September 15

Current El Niño could mean more favorable weather for Midwest crops

Much-needed precipitation through the U.S. heartland this year has replenished soil moisture, refilled ponds and promises to boost crop yields, thanks to the weather phenomenon known as El Niño, according to Iowa State University agricultural climatologist Elwynn Taylor. And the benefits for the Midwest may continue into 2016.

El Niño is associated with a warming of Pacific Ocean water, and tends to bring warmer, drier conditions to the northwest United States and cooler, wetter conditions to the Plains.

The conditions are a far cry from the recent La Niña – the opposite of El Niño, which brought drought to the central U.S., said Taylor, who spoke at the recent Kansas State University Risk and Profit Conference. “We’ve just come out of the second strongest La Niña in recorded history, about 200 years, and that brought us a disastrous drought. That’s the drought we had in the Corn Belt in 2012. That’s the first widespread drought that we’ve had in the Corn Belt since 1988.”

He likened the El Niño-La Niña phenomenon to a pendulum that swings from one extreme direction for a 14-month period and then to the extreme in the opposite direction.

“Because of the rainfall and mild temperatures in the central U.S., an El Niño gives a 70 percent chance of an above trend line yield for corn and soybeans in the Corn Belt, if other factors don’t come into play,” he said, adding that when corn yields are high in the Midwest, wheat yields in northwest states tend to be below average, because El Niño tends to bring drought to those states.

It’s unclear how long the current El Niño will last, but in similar situations where one has followed a strong La Niña, the El Niño has lasted a full two years rather than 14 months, which is average.

“If it goes 14 months, that it gets us well into 2016. It could get us off to a good start with the crop, but it could go bad after that,” Taylor said, noting that El Niño has sometimes gone on for 24 months – even 36 months, but that’s rare. “In ancient history, they’ve gone on for four or five years, but we don’t expect to see that this time around,” he said.

“With El Niño, we tend to have closer to average conditions than extremes. That is, the summer’s not oppressively hot, the winter’s not bitterly cold, and that is good news for people with cattle outside and people with winter wheat,” he said.

Taylor said scientists who study El Niño and La Niña have a good record for knowing four or five months in advance what conditions are coming: “That’s good news, but it doesn’t get you all the way through a growing season.”

That’s why people should pay attention, he said, adding, “We don’t get a sudden change from La Niña to El Niño. That’s a gradual one over months – a gentle change. But, when a strong El Niño ends, it can suddenly go to a La Niña condition, such as the major drought we had in 1988 that began just weeks after we went into La Niña.”

That’s why risk management is so important, he said, adding that after El Niño, growers have to be ready for yields and prices to change quickly.

In an Agriculture Today radio interview during the conference, Taylor said that once an El Niño ends, there is often talk of high-pressure ridges forming that block precipitation. The weather forecasts reporting those are typically focused on urban areas, especially in the New England states.

“We need to pay attention to what’s going on in the Gulf of Alaska. If we have a high pressure system in the Gulf of Alaska, we’ve just cut off the rain in a line from Kansas City to Chicago and everything north of that. That’s a good chunk of Nebraska and Kansas,” he said.

El Niño is the friend of the Midwest farmer, as well as the Argentine farmer, and those in southern Brazil and Uruguay and adjacent areas, he added. It is not the friend of the extreme northwest United States or the adjacent Canadian farmer, or farmers in northern Brazil.

“In fact some Brazilian farmers try to cover this by owning as many acres in northern Brazil as in southern Brazil,” Taylor said. While one is suffering from El Niño, the other is benefiting from El Niño. That’s a form of risk management, by having farms in two locations.”

“Also, if the Australian farmer has an enemy, it’s El Nino,” he added.

Taylor said that based on studies going back hundreds of years, the upcoming year 2025 bears watching: “2025 isn’t necessarily the year we expect a “Dust Bowl” to peak, but it would be typical. The harshest years for weather for Midwest crops tend to be separated by 89 years. The worst year for the 1800s in Illinois and Iowa was 1847. Records were not kept that far back for Kansas and Nebraska. In the next century, the harshest weather year for crops was 1936. Tree rings indicate the 89-year tendency has existed for several centuries.”

Taylor believes this means that weather will get increasingly volatile until we hit the extremes. “Remember, volatility goes both ways,” he said. “Years with record-high yields or yields with half of that, and that’s a disaster. During the 18 years before 2010, we had consistent yields.”

“This is an advantage the farmer has, to look at what is the year’s volatility, what are the likely prices I can sell my grain at or buy my feed at this year, and what the likely low will be and the likely high,” he continued. “You’re not going to hit it exactly. Just realize this is likely to be a year that will have above trend line yields, and so we’re going to have prices that go along with a higher yield. You don’t know exactly how low they’ll go, but as long as you’re working on the correct side of the picture, you’ll make a profit. It’s hard to go bankrupt when you’re making a profit.”

Taylor said weather conditions through the 2020s may be much like the volatile years during the 1980s.

Farmers will always deal with risk, but Taylor said U.S. farmers have good government support. “The federal government does not want farmers to take such a beating one year that they’re not in business the next, as happened back during the Dust Bowl of the ‘30s. That’s why we have crop insurance. That is for most people their No. 1 risk management tool.”

Original article September 2, Pork Network


September 14, 2015

Changes coming to antibiotic use in pork

A new U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruling goes into effect Oct. 1 that contains several important changes for pork producers.

"Traditionally, pork producers have used antibiotics for three purposes: treatment of illnesses, control or prevention of diseases, and to improve nutritional efficiency. However, due to the concern about antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the FDA has issued a new ruling to ensure the continued responsible use of these products in food animals," said Bob Thaler, Professor and South Dakota State University Extension swine specialist, referencing FDA Guidance #213.

With a full implementation date of Dec. 31, 2016, guidance #213 will now require that a veterinarian write a Veterinary Feed Directive or prescription for all antibiotics used in feed. 

"Like a human prescription, the VFD will specify the antibiotic used, the dosage approved, animals to be treated, and how long the treatment is approved for," Thaler said. "The FDA is working to make sure that the rules won't place an undue burden on producers, veterinarians, and feed suppliers."

In addition, Thaler explained that the guidance requires that the veterinarian writing the VFD must has a valid Veterinary-Client-Patient relationship with the producer, something that is the backbone of the National Pork Board's Pork Quality Assurance program.  "By having a strong working relationship between the veterinarian and producer, better treatment decisions can be made," he said.

Under guidance #213, antibiotics can no longer be used to improve nutritional efficiency. "Once Guidance #213 is fully implemented in December 2016, it will be illegal to use medically important antibiotics for production purposes," Thaler said. "Again, the VFD will only be written for the prevention, control, or treatment of specifically identified diseases."

Thaler added that record keeping will increase under the new rules. The veterinarian writing the VFD, the feed mill or distributor receiving the VFD, and the producer receiving the medicated feed must all keep a copy of the VFD on file for two years.

"Guidance #213 and the new VFD rules will help ensure that medically important antibiotics will still be efficacious in human use, and that pork producers and veterinarians are working together to provide the very best medical care for their animals as possible," he said.

Develop a plan today

October 1 is less than a month away, Thaler urges producers to sit down with their veterinarians sooner than later in order to develop an antibiotic strategy for their individual operations. 

"A strong veterinary-client-patient relationship is critical in moving forward successfully with the new antibiotic rules," Thaler said.

Original article September 4, AGWEEK


September 11, 2015

Seneca Valley Virus investigations continue in swine

In the past couple of weeks, cases of Senecavirus A (Seneca Valley Virus or SVV) have been reported in multiple breeding herds in the upper Midwest. Foreign animal disease investigations continue to show the pigs are negative to foot and mouth disease virus (FMDV) but positive to Senecavirus A, according to the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV).

Other vesicular diseases such as swine vesicular disease, vesicular exanthema of swine and vesicular stomatitis, have been ruled out as well. Lesions on the snout and coronary band/hoof lesions will be seen on the breeding females and boars. There appears to be a short term (4-10 days) increase in mortality in neonatal piglets (younger than seven days of age) that may or may not have diarrhea associated with it. It is usually upon investigation of the increase in neonatal mortality, that the vesicular lesions in the breeding age animals are noted. Iowa State University researchers and diagnosticians have provided an updated report on the breeding herd cases of Seneca Valley Virus.

Overall, AASV said there has been an increase in the number of cases of SVV diagnosed by the diagnostic labs so far in 2015. This is concerning because officials do not want veterinarians and swine producers to become complacent and start thinking all cases of vesicular lesions in pigs are SVV and forget about FMD. Likewise, AASV wants to ensure that FMD-negative pigs can continue to move unimpeded.

AASV reminds members that if they see vesicles in pigs, they should assume it could be FMD and contact the state or federal animal health official (see Procedures to Report a Suspected FAD on the AASV website under the Publications tab).  Do not transport animals with vesicles.

AASV is working closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Pork Board, National Pork Producers Council, researchers and diagnosticians to develop recommendations for responding to future cases of vesicular lesions in pigs. Iowa State and the University of Minnesota are conducting retrospective polymerase-chain reaction testing of oral fluid samples to provide some insight into the possible distribution of previously undiagnosed SVV-positive samples.

Original article September 4, Feedstuffs


September 10, 2015

K-State is making bacon even better

Just when you thought it couldn't get any better, improved bacon could soon be on its way. Bacon is one of the most popular cuts of pork, and finding a way to deliver an enhanced product to restaurants and consumers will increase its value even more. Researchers at Kansas State University are hot on the trail.

Terry Houser, an associate professor in the K-State Department of Animal Sciences and Industry, is exploring what level of pork belly fat saturation will result in longer shelf life and better flavor. Currently, bacon used in the food service sector, which includes restaurants, is stored frozen but is not vacuum packaged, he said. This method can lead to off-flavors in meat with higher levels of unsaturated fat. 

Houser and his team are studying the influence a pig’s iodine level (a measure of fat saturation) has on shelf life value of bacon. He said if bacon fat is too unsaturated, it could cause the fat to become soft and, hence, undesirable to the consumer. Also, unsaturated fat causes problems with slicing the bellies once they are cooked and smoked.

The theory behind this research, Houser said, is that pigs with relatively high iodine levels result in problems with bacon quality from those pigs’ bellies.

“Pigs with relatively high iodine levels have a more unsaturated fat in the belly, which means those bellies will be softer and more prone to increased rates of lipid oxidation,” Houser said. 

Increased rates of lipid oxidation have been linked to greater occurrence of rancid flavors in meat products, he explained. Additionally, soft bellies are challenging to slice with commercial meat processing equipment and may result in lower slicing yields for the bacon manufacturer.

“We wanted to see what effects freezing has on lipid oxidation, or off-flavor development in those bacon products,” Houser said. “The results showed us that bacon is very unstable once it is in a frozen storage, in a HRI (hotel, restaurant and institutional) type of packaging system.” 

Houser and his team’s on-going research to create better bacon will explore ways to identify bacon that is higher in unsaturated fat and identify ways to make the fat more stable in frozen storage.

More references related to meat quality and safety can be found at your local extension office or online on the K-State Research and Extension website.



September 9, 2015

KPA to feature “Build Your Own Pork Rub” booth

The Kansas Pork Association, in collaboration with The Culinary Center of Kansas City, will be featuring a “Build Your Own Pork Rub” booth at the second annual Handmade & Vintage Chick Event this weekend in Leawood, Kan. The first 2,000 visitors to the KPA booth will get to create and take their own pork rub. CCKC chef Sandy DiGiovanni will also be giving demonstrations throughout the weekend.

“We are excited to be one of the main sponsors for this event again this year. Last year’s event was one of the most interactive events we have ever participated in,” said Jodi Oleen, KPA Director of Consumer Outreach. “Our partnership with the Culinary Center of KC and the ‘Build Your Own Pork Rub’ will be a great way to provide pork cooking tips and encourage pork purchases at the meat case.”

The event will feature over 95 vendors specializing in handmade, homemade, art & vintage products. Park Place restaurants will also offer pop-up food stands throughout the event, live music on the lawn and with entrance to the Chick Event, the shops and restaurants at Park Place will offer specials all weekend.

“There is truly something for everyone at this event – women and men alike,” said Aimee Jacobson, Chick Events sales and sponsorships. “It’s a family event so bring the kids, the dog and plan a few hours to browse all the tents.”

The event is sponsored by the Kansas Pork Association, Restoration Emporium, The Smile Generation, Diagnostic Imaging, 95.7 The Vibe, 105.1 JackFM, 94.9KCMO, and Magic 107.3.

Contact KPA for complimentary tickets, or see below for ticket information.


LOCATION: Park Place, 117th & Ash Street (off Nall), Leawood, KS


Saturday, September 12, 2015 - 10am – 8pm
Sunday, September 13, 2015- 11am – 4pm


$5 entrance (children 12 & under are free)
$8 weekend pass

Click here to purchase tickets in advance.



September 8, 2015

Podcast: There is an abundance of all proteins in cold storage, including pork

Posted: 31 Aug 2015 02:03 PM PDT

Date: August 31, 2015
Length: 5:00
Speaker: Steve Meyer, Vice President of Pork Analysts, EMI Analytics
Upload in Browser:

There is an abundance of all proteins in cold storage, including pork


 September 7, 2015

Thank lower soybean meal prices for drop in pork costs

Soybean meal is an important but an "economically" secondary feed ingredient in hog diets compared to corn. My estimates suggest that soybean meal costs have been about 22 percent of the total costs of raising hogs over the past decade, compared to 32 percent for corn.

In recent years, meal has been high priced. For the calendar years of 2012, 2013 and 2014 USDA reports that Decatur, Illinois high-protein meal has had annual averages between $440 and $480 per ton. But with a record U.S. soybean crop in the fall of 2014 and with the second largest crop in 2015, Decatur prices are expected to average about $350 per ton for 2015 and then fall further to average near $325 per ton for calendar year 2016. This would be the lowest annual meal price since 2007.

How much have lower soybean meal prices contributed to lower hog production costs? From 2014 highs at $480 per ton to the projected $325 in calendar 2016, costs of production would drop by $5.40 per live hundredweight due to the meal price reduction.

Livestock producers may adjust the corn to meal ratios in diets somewhat depending upon the prices of these two primary feed ingredients. For example, the 2012 drought caused corn prices to be very high relative to soybean meal prices. This relationship caused some shifting to higher protein diets because meal was relatively lower cost than corn. Then for the 2013 and 2014 crops, corn shifted to be cheaper relative to meal. This caused some to reduce their protein levels. In the coming year, corn and meal prices are returning to a more normal long-term relationship.

Estimated total costs of production for a hundredweight of live hogs reached the highest calendar year average in 2012 at $67 per live hundredweight. That dropped to an estimated $51 for 2015. Current projections for 2016 are that total costs will remain about $51. For 2016, lower meal costs are offset by somewhat higher anticipated corn costs, keeping total costs similar to 2015. Clearly a $16 per hundredweight drop in feed costs from 2012 to 2015 and 2016 is a major reduction.

Record costs of production was a contributor to higher retail prices that reached the highest level in September 2014 at $4.22 per pound for USDA's composite pork average. Of course, PED death losses also contributed to reduced pork production in 2014 as well. Lower priced feed and better control of PED has resulted in higher pork production and as a result consumer pork prices have fallen to $3.77 per pound in July 2015.

Hog producer margins are expected to be near breakeven for both 2015 and 2016. Estimated costs are near $51 and expected live hog prices are near $50. This means a $1 to $2 loss per head. Breakeven implies that supply and demand are close to an equilibrium and that all resources are receiving a "normal" rate of return. This implies that producers have little financial incentive to expand, or to contract. It also means that the lower feed costs over the past few years have been built into more pork production and consumers will now be the beneficiaries of reduced retail prices.

Original article August 31 by Pork Network.


September 4, 2015

Agricultural exports expected to remain strong

The USDA’s quarterly “Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade” is forecasting fiscal year 2016 agricultural exports at $138.5 billion, down $1.0 billion from the revised FY 2015 projection. Fiscal years 2015 and 2016 exports would still be the third- and fourth-highest on record, respectively.

The decline is primarily due to oilseeds and products which are down $4.4 billion as a result of lower expected soybean and soybean meal prices and reduced export volumes. Grain and feed exports are forecast to be up $1.1 billion from fiscal 2015, largely due to higher expected wheat exports.

Livestock, poultry and dairy products exports are up $600 million as higher export volumes for a number of livestock products more than offset a decline in prices. Pork exports are forecast to increase $300 million to $5.1 billion as larger volumes more than offset lower unit values. Horticultural exports are forecast to reach a record $36.5 billion with higher export values for fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, as well as tree nuts.

Canada returns to the top

Agricultural exports to China are forecast down $2.0 billion from fiscal 2015, primarily due to lower soybean values. Canada is expected to return as the largest U.S. export market for the first time since 2010. Agricultural imports are forecast at a record $122.5 billion in FY 2016, $7.0 billion higher than FY 2015. Increases in import values are expected for most products in 2016, with the largest gains in horticultural, and sugar and tropical products.

The U.S. agricultural trade surplus is forecast at $16.0 billion for FY 2016 which would be the smallest surplus since 2007.

Original article August 31 by National Hog Farmer


September 3

Next week's Amarillo workshop examines stewardship of antimicrobial drug use in food animals

There is still time to register for the workshop on stewardship of medically-important antimicrobial drug use in food-producing animals planned for Friday, Sept. 11, at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Extension Center, Amarillo, TX.

Organized by Farm Foundation, NFP, the workshop is an opportunity for participants to gain a comprehensive understanding of two Guidance for Industry (GFIs) issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding the use of medically-important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals, as well as the FDA's revised Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD). These actions mean some drugs will see label changes allowing only therapeutic uses, and for some drugs veterinary oversight will be needed in the form of a veterinarian's prescription, direct administration by a veterinarian, or a veterinary consultation on disease management protocols.

This free workshop, which will be 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., is targeted to all pork, cattle, poultry and sheep producers, as well as veterinarians and feed suppliers in Texas, Eastern New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Southeastern Colorado. The workshop is also an opportunity for state and federal agencies, colleges of veterinary medicine and university extension personnel to gain insights into the changes and tools needed to meet the requirements. 

There is no charge to participate. Advanced registration is requested but not required. Registration can  be completed online or by going to the Farm Foundation website.  

Representatives from FDA and USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will be at the workshop to answer questions about the new policies. Participants will also hear perspectives from Shelby Horn; Thomas Portillo, DVM; and Brice Tabor of Hi-Pro Feeds.  Breakout sessions will allow producers, veterinarians and feed suppliers to discuss the management challenges ahead.

To gauge awareness of the changes being put in place by FDA, and to learn more about the potential implications of these changes, Farm Foundation is asking stakeholders to complete a brief survey. The survey is open to all livestock producers, feed suppliers and veterinarians, whether or not you attend the workshop. CLICK HERE to complete the survey. Survey results will only be gathered and reported in the aggregate. Survey results will be shared with workshop participants.

Comments gathered at this workshop will be the basis of a report assessing the economic and physical challenges facing producers as they implement the GFIs and revised VFD. Informational and educational needs will also be evaluated, as well as the role of veterinarians in monitoring and managing antimicrobial drug use. The report will be presented at a national summit to be convened by Farm Foundation in late fall 2015.  

FDA's GFI 209 and GFI 213 call on animal drug sponsors of approved medically-important antimicrobials administered through medicated feed or water to remove production uses (i.e., to promote growth or improve feed efficiency) from their product labels, and bring the remaining therapeutic uses of these products--to treat, control, or prevent disease--under the oversight of a veterinarian. Manufacturers of products containing these medically-important antimicrobial drugs have voluntarily agreed to submit changes to their product labels to comply with the GFIs. FDA's revised VFD addresses the increased veterinary oversight of medicated feeds called for by GFI 209 and 213.  

Farm Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that has been serving agriculture, the food system and rural communities since 1933. Farm Foundation is a non-advocacy organization--we do not lobby or advocate positions. Our action comes in bringing industry leaders together to address evolving issues that will shape the future of the industry. Stewardship of medically-important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals is just such an issue.

In addition to Farm Foundation's leadership, individual producers and many companies are providing financial support for this educational effort. These include JBS United, Hormel Foods Corporation, Jennie-O Turkey Store, Rose Acre Farms, Elanco Animal Health, J.R. Simplot Company, Irsik and Doll, Hardin Farms, C-ARC Enterprises, National Pork Producers Council, the National Pork Board, North American Meat Institute and the National Turkey Federation. 


Sheldon Jones, Vice President Programs, Farm Foundation, NFP 630-601-4151

Mary Thompson, Vice President Communications, Farm Foundation, NFP 630-601-4152


September 2

National Pork Board Announces Finalists for America’s Pig Farmer of the YearSM Award
Public Encouraged to Vote at

The National Pork Board has announced the four finalists who are vying for the title of its new America’s Pig Farmer of the YearSM award program. The goal of the program is to honor the U.S. pig farmer who best excels at raising pigs using the We CareSM ethical principles and is best able to share his or her farming story with the American public.

“The four finalists represent the diverse pork industry in the United States,” said National Pork Board President Derrick Sleezer, a farmer from Cherokee, Iowa. “They all have shown a focus on environmental sustainability, animal welfare and continuous improvement.”

The 2015 finalists are:

  • Steve Kerns – Clearfield, Iowa
  • Marti Knoblock – Rock Rapids, Iowa
  • Keith Schoettmer – Tipton, Indiana
  • Lauren Schwab – Somerville, Ohio

 The four finalists are meeting today with an expert panel of judges in Chicago.  The judges will view on-farm videos produced at the finalists’ farms and will conduct an in-person interview with each of them.
Starting today through Sept. 10, the public can vote once a day per person/email address for their favorite finalist at The winner will be announced Oct. 7.
The award, in its inaugural year, is part of the National Pork Board’s commitment to grow consumer trust in all aspects of U.S. pork production.
About the Finalists
Marti Knoblock – Rock Rapids, Iowa
Marti Knoblock is one of the family owners of GMC Farms, located near Rock Rapids, Iowa. Founded in 1980, GMC Farms is co-owned by Marti and his brothers, Mitch Knoblock and Morris Metzger. GMC Farms raises pigs in modern slatted, curtain-sided barns with deep pits and markets 23,000 pigs annually. The family also raises corn, soybeans and cattle.
Steve Kerns – Clearfield, Iowa
Founded in 1966, Kerns Farms started as a 4-H project and has grown into a full-scale seedstock operation. Steve and Becky Kerns manage their farm with the help of sons, Karl and Matt, as well as three employees. They market 10,000 pigs annually, with the 320-acre farm’s facilities including hoop barns, open lots and curtain-sided and mechanically ventilated barns.
Lauren Schwab – Somerville, Ohio
Lauren Schwab proudly works as a second-generation farmer on the 230-acre farm founded in 1977 by her father, Jeff.  The farrow-to-wean farm is home to 12 independent barns that house 1,100 sows. The modern barns provide the proper environment for the sows, which are individually cared for and observed daily to assess their needs. The sows produce about 30,000 piglets a year, which are then sold to other farmers for finishing.
Keith Schoettmer – Tipton, Indiana
Keith and Darla Schoettmer founded Schoettmer Prime Pork in 1987. The farm has grown steadily over the years despite many changes in the pork industry. Today, they raise 22,000 pigs annually on the farrow-to-finish farm with the help of eight full-time employees.
About the Expert Judging Panel
Members of the five-member expert judging panel are Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the American Humane Association; Carlos Saviani, vice president of the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) U.S. food team; Mitzi Dulan, a registered dietitian and a nationally recognized nutrition and wellness expert to the Kansas City Royals; Chris Soules, a farmer from Arlington, Iowa, and television star from The Bachelor and Dancing with the Stars; and Jodi Sterle, an associate professor of animal science at Iowa State University and a nationally known youth advisor in livestock exhibition.
About the Contest
The National Pork Board created the America’s Pig Farmer of the Year contest in order to recognize the best in pig farming. This prestigious honor will be awarded annually to the pig farmer who demonstrates and lives by the We Care ethical principles.

Original release September 1 by National Pork Board.


September 1

KPA reaches out to educators

In a continued effort to promote agriculture in the classroom, the Kansas Pork Association is once again reaching out to educators across the state.  Postcards were mailed to all 877 elementary schools in Kansas, reminding teachers of fun educational resources available, including pork and soybean Bingo kits.

These classroom kits include pork and soybean Bingo games, tokens and call out cards, as well as work sheets and posters. The kits focus on helping students learn the variety of products people use that come from pigs and soybeans grown in Kansas. The kits also come with worksheets and posters.

These materials are offered to Kansas educators free of charge by the Kansas Soybean Commission and the KPA. Visit to see other educational tools available for educators.

August 28, 2015

Colorado, Kansas & Nebraska Water Agreement Further Helps Water Users

Republican River Compact Adjustments to Benefit Basin Water Users

The states of Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska have reached an agreement that will ensure more certainty to the basin’s water users in both Nebraska and Kansas. The agreement, in the form of a Resolution approved by the Republican River Compact Administration (RRCA), was achieved through collaborative negotiations that began in April 2015 and will provide timely notice and access to water for the 2016 irrigation season.

The agreement provides additional flexibility for Nebraska to achieve its Compact obligations while ensuring that the interests of Kansas are protected. The additional flexibility will allow the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources to provide a portion of the forecasted compliance water early in 2016 and provide any additional shortfall later in 2016 and through April 1, 2017. This also provides some improved operational predictability for Nebraska water users in that water users will not be subjected to closing notices related to the 2016 irrigation season. 

The 2016 agreement builds upon the agreement reached for the 2015 irrigation season with further beneficial developments for water users. This agreement provides more advanced notice to irrigators in the basin of compliance activities that will likely occur in 2016, allowing for an advanced planning period producers desire for their efficiently run operations.

The States’ agreement is contingent upon the Nebraska and the Kansas Bostwick Irrigation Districts, working with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, – reaching agreement on modifications of certain contract provisions contained in their Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) also adopted last year. Thus, ensuring the availability of the water pumped from Nebraska augmentation projects for RRCA compliance. 

Current RRCA Chairman, Gordon W. “Jeff” Fassett, Director of the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, said, “Today’s agreement is good news for Nebraska water users and represents the continuation of the cooperative and positive collaboration we’ve fostered between our states as we work to find mutually agreeable solutions that best serve our citizens. Additionally, we are hopeful that this positive momentum will continue to move us closer to the goal of securing a long-term agreement. With significantly more planning time, Nebraska’s water users will have greater certainty in their water supply and make the best decisions for their operations.”

“We are pleased to collaborate with Nebraska and Colorado as we continue to develop balanced and fair water solutions benefiting all of the basin’s water users that reflects good water management,” said Kansas Commissioner David Barfield. “This fourth in our series of recent agreements with Nebraska allows Kansas to make effective use of its water supply in 2016 and allows the states additional time and experience with Nebraska’s compliance activities as we continue to move toward long-term agreement.”

Colorado Commissioner Dick Wolfe said, “This agreement exemplifies the success that can be achieved through collaboration and cooperation of the RRCA and the water users in the basin.”

The RRCA is comprised of one member each from the States of Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska. The purpose of the RRCA is to administer the Republican River Compact. This Compact allocates the waters of the Republican River among the three states. The next RRCA annual meeting is scheduled for August of 2016 and will be hosted by the State of Colorado in a location of their choice.

Original release August 27 by Kansas Department of Agriculture


August 27, 2015

Conference on swine feed efficiency

ISU and K-State U to host an international conference in Omaha

Iowa State University and Kansas State University will host an International Conference on Feed Efficiency in Swine in Omaha Oct. 21 and 22.

The conference will deliver the results of the multidisciplinary Feed Efficiency in Swine research project conducted by Iowa State, Kansas State and three international institutions.

Additional speakers have been invited from across the United States and eight foreign countries to present the latest information on feed efficiency in the areas of pig health, physiology, nutrition, genetics, pork quality, feed processing and sow reproduction. More than 40 presentations from university and swine industry experts will be available in a program that blends science and application.

"The program committee made an extra effort to present new information that answers such questions as whether intensive, multi-generational selection for feed efficiency results in pigs that are more easily stressed, more susceptible to disease or more likely to produce poor quality pork," said John Patience, Iowa State professor of animal science. "This is just one of many topics that will be addressed at the two-day event."

Patience has directed the research project, which was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The target audience includes:

  • Pork producer owner-operators
  • Management personnel in pork production
  • People in swine nutrition, genetics, feed processing and pharmaceutical sectors
  • Students, academic and extension professionals

The meeting will be at the Hilton Omaha.

Complete program and registration information can be found at: Discounted registration of $200 per person, which includes meals and breaks, is available for the first 400 registrants. Then, the registration increases to $300 per person.

Original article August 20 by Morning Ag Clips.


August 26, 2015

From the Land of Kansas to host tailgate contest

Kansas' agricultural trademark program, From the Land of Kansas, invites tailgaters to participate in the second annual From the Land of Kansas Tailgate Contest. The contest, presented by Manhattan Hy-Vee, will be held September 5, 2015 prior to the Kansas State University vs. South Dakota football game.

Tailgate contest participants are challenged to create dishes featuring Kansas ingredients. Winners will not only be named champion, but will also receive From the Land of Kansas memorabilia and a gift card from Manhattan Hy-Vee. The overall tailgate dish winner will also be featured on a television segment of Chef Alli's Farm Fresh Kitchen on WIBW.

The deadline for registration is August 28. Tailgaters in the east or west paved lots of the Bill Snyder Family Stadium are invited to participate. There are three categories: main dish, side dish or dessert. Contestants may enter one dish per category and may compete in no more than two of the three categories. 

Judging will take place prior to kickoff and contestants will be given a scheduled time between 1:00-6:00 p.m. to showcase their dishes. Dishes will be evaluated using the following criteria:

  • Flavor and Taste - 40 points
  • Presentation and Appearance - 25 points
  • Use of Kansas Products - 20 points; 5 points per product
  • Creativity - 15 points

To register a tailgate, email Participants must include the category/categories they plan to enter and the parking spot number of their tailgate location. Entries are limited to five participants per category.

The From the Land of Kansas trademark program serves to meet the Kansas Department of Agriculture's mission to promote the Kansas agriculture industry and support agribusinesses by expanding markets for Kansas agricultural products.

To learn more about the From the Land of Kansas program or to find Kansas products that can be incorporated into dishes, visit 

Original release August 14 by Kansas Department of Agriculture.


August 25, 2015

Podcast: Do families still dominate pork production

Do families still dominate pork production

Posted: 19 Aug 2015 04:32 AM PDT

Date: August 19, 2015
Time: 5:23
Speaker: Dr. Steve Meyer, VP of Pork Analysis EMI Analytics

Listen here.


August 24, 2015

National Pork Board Announces Judges for America's Pig Farmer of the Year Award

Building on its commitment to grow consumer trust in all aspects of U.S. pork production, the National Pork Board announced an expert judging panel that brings a new, broad-based and transparent approach to selecting its first-ever America’s Pig Farmer of the YearSM.

Members of the five-member panel include Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane Association; Carlos Saviani, vice president of the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) U.S. food team; Mitzi Dulan, a registered dietitian and nationally recognized nutrition and wellness expert to the Kansas City Royals; Chris Soules, a farmer from Arlington, Iowa, and television star from The Bachelor and Dancing with the Stars; and Dr. Jodi Sterle, an associate professor of animal science at Iowa State University and nationally known youth advisor in livestock exhibition.
“We are very pleased to have such a diverse and impressive group of experts to judge the finalists in the very first America’s Pig Farmer of the Year Award,” said Derrick Sleezer, National Pork Board president and pig farmer from Cherokee, Iowa. “It was important to our farmer leaders that we create a unique judging panel that was not only objective, but brought a whole new level of diversity of views to the table. And with this group, we think we accomplished that goal.”
Looking forward to the finalist judging slated for Sept. 1, Ganzert said, “As an animal lover and the leader of the country’s first national humane organization, I am honored to have been asked to serve as a judge for America’s Pig Farmer of the Year. American Humane Association celebrates all those, including our nation’s farmers, who care for animals and work hard to ensure they are treated humanely. Today, more than ever it is important not only to point out where progress is needed, but to recognize when we get it right. I look forward to learning about these farmers who are working to give America’s families food that is safe, affordable, abundant and in line with their values.”
Joining Ganzert on the judging panel will be WWF’s Saviani, who said, “I’m really excited for the opportunity to participate in this new award and to learn more about how the pork industry and pig farmers are concerned, dealing with and addressing sustainability.”
The entire expert panel of judges will gather in Chicago to fulfill their duties. They will judge an on-farm video produced at each of the four finalists’ farms and then conduct an in-person interview with each one. The public can view each finalist’s video and cast its vote for its favorite farmer from Sept. 1 through 10 by going to The final winner will be announced Oct. 7.
The National Pork Board has responsibility for Checkoff-funded research, promotion and consumer information projects and for communicating with pork producers and the public. Through a legislative national Pork Checkoff, pork producers invest $0.40 for each $100 value of hogs sold. Importers of pork products contribute a like amount, based on a formula. The Pork Checkoff funds national and state programs in advertising, consumer information, retail and foodservice marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, science and technology, swine health, pork safety and sustainability and environmental management.

For information on Checkoff-funded programs, pork producers can call the Pork Checkoff Service Center at (800) 456-7675 or check the Internet at

August 21, 2015

Manure pit fumes kill Iowa father, son

An Iowa father and his son were killed recently by noxious fumes from a hog manure pit, marking the second deadly incident in just a month.  

According to the Des Moines Register, the accident occurred at a farm in northwest Iowa on July 25. Gene Opheim, 58, and his son, Austin Opheim, 32, were repairing a pump when a piece of equipment they were using fell into the manure pit below.

Authorities say Austin Opheim went to retrieve the tool and was soon overcome by the poisonous manure pit gases. His father rushed to him after realizing his son was incapacitated. Gene's sister Barb Wempen spoke to reporters about her brother’s heroic attempts to rescue his son.

“(Gene) was carrying Austin on his back and bringing him up. He got almost to the top, and he got overcome,” she said.

Click here to read more from the Des Moines Register.

Gene’s obituary paints the picture of a hardworking man devoted to his family and pig farming.

“He has parked his Goldwing, put on his angel wings, and has taken to the winds,” his obituary reads. “Gene will forever watch over [his wife] and family. Fly, Gene, fly. Let the winds blow.”

Gene’s love for farming was shared equally by his son.

“[Austin] had a love for farming his whole life. He would complain about the markets or the weather, it was in his blood and he loved every minute of getting dirty,” Austin’ obituary said.

Their deaths mark the second deadly accident in just a month. According toWQOW News in an article here, a father and his son were killed in early July at a Wisconsin farm while attempting to retrieve a broken wheel from a hog manure pig. Both men were also overcome by the poisonous gases.

Staying Safe

The National Ag Safety Database warns that four powerful poisons can be present in manure pits, especially in those below the ground – hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, carbon dioxide, and methane. Daniel Andersen, a water quality and manure management professor at Iowa State University, explains it can take just a few seconds for routine maintenance work to turn deadly. 

Andersen cautions farmers to use care when working below the slates and over the manure pit and urges producers to use “some sort of breathing apparatus.”


August 20, 2015

First-half Results Reflect Tough Business Climate for U.S. Meat Exports

June export data, released by USDA and compiled by USMEF, reflected a challenging first half of 2015 for U.S. pork, beef and lamb exports.

June pork exports totaled 174,554 metric tons (mt), down 4 percent from a year ago. With pork prices down significantly from last year’s high levels, June export value fell 22 percent year-over-year to $454 million. For the first half of 2015, pork exports were down 5 percent in volume (1.09 million mt) and 16 percent in value ($2.88 billion).

Beef export volume in June was down 8 percent from a year ago to 96,716 mt, while export value fell 9 percent to $578.9 million. This was the second consecutive month that export value fell below last year’s level, resulting in first-half value being steady with 2014’s pace at $3.26 billion. First-half volume was down 10 percent to 527,109 mt.

“We were aware that exports would be facing obstacles in 2015, and that keeping pace with last year’s record performance would be difficult,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “The first-quarter slump was partially due to the West Coast port labor impasse, as well as intense competition from countries that continue to recognize opportunities in several markets. We were expecting to see a stronger rebound in the second quarter – and that did not materialize.”

Seng added that, while marketing budgets remain flat, competitors are beefing up efforts to capture larger shares of the red meat market. Competition continues to be a major factor, along with a strong U.S. dollar that is providing a price advantage for several competitors with slumping currencies. The European Union, for one, has been aggressive in targeting specific markets, and large supplies of European pork are making it into the coveted Asian market. This development is due in large part to the closure of Russia, traditionally the EU’s largest pork export market. Russia’s suspension of pork imports from the EU – originally due to African swine fever but reinforced by a trade embargo related to the conflict in Ukraine – has now lasted more than 18 months.

Australian beef production was expected to ramp down in 2015 as the industry entered herd-rebuilding mode after several years of poor grazing conditions. But with disappointing rainfall in Australia and attractive slaughter cattle prices, beef production and exports remained record-large through the first half of the year – though some slowdown was seen in July.

Mexico, Korea were first-half bright spots for U.S. pork

June pork exports to Mexico were the largest since March, up 13 percent from a year ago to 62,112 mt. While first-half export value ($619.3 million, down 18 percent) reflected lower prices for hams and other cuts typically shipped to Mexico, export volume remained very strong (353,296 mt, up 6 percent).

Pork exports to South Korea moderated in June to 12,512 mt, up 55 percent from a year ago but the smallest volume since November 2014. June export value was $33.1 million, up 17 percent. Korea’s first-half performance was stellar, with volume increasing 40 percent to 108,198 mt and value up 35 percent to $318.2 million.

Other first-half results for U.S. pork exports included:

  • Japan remained the leading value destination for U.S. pork, despite a 20 percent decline from last year’s pace to $835.4 million. Export volume to Japan fell 13 percent to 221,776, as Japan’s total imports also slowed.
  • Exports to the China/Hong Kong region fell 17 percent in volume (157,860 mt) and 22 percent in value ($330.9 million) from a year ago as the U.S. industry continues to lose market share due to lack of China-eligible supplies and the small number of plants approved to serve China. Demand for imported pork in China is on the rise due to an uptick in domestic prices and tight domestic supplies, but these opportunities are mostly being seized by European suppliers.
  • Exports to Canada held up relatively well, considering the weakness of the Canadian dollar versus the U.S. dollar. Export volume was down 6 percent to 95,443 mt while value fell 10 percent to $382.7 million.
  • Small markets performing well in the first half included the Dominican Republic (up 31 percent in volume to 13,006 mt and 11 percent in value to $29.6 million), Honduras (up 22 percent in volume to 10,119 mt and 3 percent in value to $21.7 million), Chile (up 10 percent in volume to 7,146 mt and 25 percent in value to $20.4 million), and Guatemala (7,072 mt, up 20 percent with value at $19.7 million, up 11 percent). June results were particularly impressive for Chile, as volume nearly doubled from a year ago to 1,237 mt and value was up 57 percent to $3 million.

“Our limited access to China has become a major obstacle for U.S. pork, especially with competition intensifying in so many other global markets,” Seng said. “It’s a situation that absolutely must be addressed in order for U.S. exports to regain momentum.”

January-June pork exports accounted for 25 percent of total production and 21 percent for muscle cuts only (down from 28 percent and 24 percent, respectively, in the first half of last year). Export value averaged $50.85 per head slaughtered, down 22 percent year-over-year and 5 percent lower than in 2013.

Beef exports strong to Korea and Taiwan, but most markets lower year-over-year

Beef exports to Korea overcame a slow start in 2015, finishing the first half up 8 percent in volume (61,190 mt) and 12 percent in value ($423.7 million). June exports were the largest in more than two years at 12,622 mt (up 30 percent) valued at $81.8 million (up 17 percent).

“The Korean market could see a brief downturn in July, as economic activity slowed severely in June due to the outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS),” Seng cautioned. “This had a very negative effect on hotel and restaurant traffic and caused a backup in beef inventories. But consumer activity has since recovered, so the impact of MERS on exports should be short-lived.”

First-half beef exports to Taiwan were up 2 percent in volume (16,506 mt) and 13 percent in value ($150.5 million). June was an especially strong month, hitting a record volume of 4,185 mt (up 32 percent from a year ago) valued at $33 million (up 13 percent).

Exports to Japan were down 2 percent from a year ago in both volume (109,010 mt) and value ($676.7 million) – a respectable performance considering the slow start to the year (due in part to port congestion, which slowed demand for chilled beef) and the tariff advantage now enjoyed by Australian beef following implementation of the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement. U.S. beef remains subject to a 38.5 percent tariff in Japan, while import tariffs on Australian chilled and frozen beef are now 31.5 percent and 28.5 percent, respectively.

Other first-half results for U.S. beef exports included:

  • Exports to Mexico fell 7 percent in volume (108,112 mt) and 2 percent in value ($534.1 million) as the weakness of the peso versus the U.S. dollar has had a growing impact on beef demand in recent months.
  • The Hong Kong market began to slow near the end of 2014, and that trend continued in the first half of the year, with exports falling 18 percent in volume (59,045 mt) and 12 percent in value ($434.4 million).
  • Buoyed by strong demand in the Dominican Republic, exports to the Caribbean were up 3 percent in volume to 11,893 mt and 16 percent in value to $83.2 million.

January-June beef exports accounted for 13 percent of total production and 10 percent for muscle cuts only (down from 14 percent and 11 percent, respectively, in the first half of last year). Export value averaged $291.70 per head of fed slaughter, up 7 percent year-over-year.

Lamb exports show signs of improvement, but still sharply lower year-over-year

U.S. lamb exports endured a difficult first half but volume improved in June, increasing 9 percent from a year ago to 1,076 mt. Despite this increase, however, June export value was still down 30 percent to $1.8 million. First-half exports were down 13 percent in volume (4,755 mt) and 27 percent in value ($10.1 million) from a year ago. While lamb exports achieved promising growth in the Middle East and other emerging markets, these results were offset by sharp declines in Canada and Mexico.

Complete January-June export results are available on the USMEF statistics webpage. For more information, please contact Joe Schuele at or 303-226-7309.

Editor’s notes:

  • Export statistics refer to both muscle cuts and variety meat unless otherwise noted.
  • One metric ton (mt) = 2,204.622 pounds.

Original article August 7 by U.S. Meat Export Federation


August 19, 2015

Farm Foundation hosting workshops in several states regarding Antimicrobial Stewardship in Animal production

A series of workshops are being conducted by the Farm Foundation related to the use of antimicrobials in food production. The objectives of the workshops are to:

  • Identify potential barriers farmers may face as they work to meet the FDA Guidance 209, 213, and Feed Directive expectations.
  • Identify and expand the understanding of the economic consequences of implementation of these guidances.
  • Identify what is needed in information, education, and research to assist producers with these guidances.
  • Bring together all impacted parties (NGO's, Land Grants, Agencies, Producers, Vets, etc) to discuss the needs.

The Farm Foundation plans to summarize the findings and outcomes from these meetings to help inform the animal production industry's efforts to educate and inform producers and veterinarians on what is necessary for effective implementation and compliance with these guidances.


NAMI, NPB, NPPC, and other industry organizations are providing financial support for this effort. We would like to encourage you to:

  • Attend the session in your state. We would appreciate hearing your feedback and observations about the value and outcomes of these workshops
  • Encourage producers to attend and participate in the discussion.
  • Offer support for speakers if contacted directly by Farm Foundation.

 Locations and dates are: 

  •        Cobleskill, NY    August 20
  •        Hanceville, AL    August 25
  •        Mesa, AZ            September 9
  •        Amarillo, TX       September 11
  •        Ames, IA             September 16
  •        Denver, CO        September 28
  •        Davis, CA            October 6
  •        Rapid City, SD    October 13
  •        Twin Falls, ID     October 15
  •        Lexington, KY     October 22

Additional details on meeting agenda and workshop locations for each of these cities can be found on the Farm Foundation website. 


August 18, 2015

American Red Cross Gets More Help From Kansas Pork Farmers

What: Bern Community Blood Drive

When: Aug. 19, 12:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Where: Bern Community Center, 416 Main Street

Kansas pork farmers are hoping to make an even bigger impact on communities around the state this year though a partnership supporting American Red Cross Blood Drives that has already collected enough blood to help up to 11,000 patients since 2012.

On Aug. 19, donors participating in the Bern Community Blood Drive at the Bern Community Center, 416 Main St., will receive special thanks from farmers during the Kansas Pork Association's 2015 Be Inspired to Make a Difference community program. The KPA program provides support to the Red Cross and other organizations that are making a difference by working to build stronger communities and a stronger Kansas. The goal in Bern is to collect 52 pints of blood. Because each pint could help save up to three lives, up to 156 patients could benefit.

Blood donors will be greeted by Kansas pork farmers serving free pulled pork sandwiches and giving away pig-shaped stress relievers. A free drawing will also be held for two grocery gift cards valued at $25 each, courtesy of the KPA. The drive will take place on Aug. 19 from 12:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Nemaha County pork farmers will be on hand to thank people who donate their blood to help the Bern community have a safe and reliable blood supply, and to honor donors for being true heroes for helping save so many lives. 

During the summer months, blood donations often decline when schools are out of session and regular donors are on vacation.

"The need for blood is constant," said Tricia Quinn, American Red Cross Central Plains Region CEO. "Right now all blood types are needed - especially types O negative, A negative and B negative - to help prevent an emergency shortage. These drives will help ensure blood products are readily available for patients. We are thankful to have partners like the KPA."

There are 1,000 pork farmers in Kansas. In 2014, they produced more than 500 million pounds of pork, while providing more than $574 million in income to Kansas communities. Learn more about Kansas Pork Farmers at

How to Donate Blood

Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver's license, or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in Kansas), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements. 

About the American Red Cross

Governed by volunteers and supported by giving individuals and communities, the American Red Cross is the single largest supplier of blood products to hospitals throughout the United States. While local hospital needs are always met first, the Red Cross also helps ensure no patient goes without blood no matter where or when they need it. In addition to providing nearly half of the nation's blood supply, the Red Cross provides relief to victims of disaster, trains millions in lifesaving skills, serves as a communication link between U.S. military members and their families, and assists victims of international disasters or conflicts. 


August 17, 2015

Massive increase in EPA authority

A series of maps released last week by the American Farm Bureau Federation show how the Environmental Protection Agency will radically expand its jurisdiction over land use if its controversial Waters of the United States rule takes effect as expected Aug. 28. That expansion comes even as major parts of the rule remain largely incomprehensible to experts and laypeople, alike.

The maps, prepared by Geosyntec Consulting, show the dramatic expansion of EPA’s regulatory reach, stretching across wide swaths of land in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Montana. In Pennsylvania, for example, 99 percent of the state’s total acreage is subject to EPA scrutiny. Landowners have no reliable way to know which of the water and land within that area will be regulated, yet they must still conform their activities to the new law.

“Farmers face enforcement action and severe penalties under EPA’s new rule for using the same safe, scientifically sound and federally approved crop protection tools they’ve used for years,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said. “This rule creates a new set of tools for harassing farmers in court, and does it all with language that is disturbingly vague and subject to abuse by future regulators. It’s worth saying again: The EPA needs to withdraw this rule and start over.”

Click here to access Montana, Virginia and Pennsylvania WOTUS.

Additional maps are being developed for parts of Missouri, New York, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

The interactive maps in detail:
The maps’ base layer shows areas regulated as tributaries and adjacent wetlands without a case-specific “significant nexus” analysis under previous rules. Through a progression, the maps add “ephemeral streams”—low spots in the land that drain and channel water away from farmland after a rain but are otherwise dry. The EPA has sometimes asserted jurisdiction over such areas before, but only after a site-specific finding of a “significant nexus” to downstream waters. Under the new rule, all such “ephemeral tributaries” are regulated.

With this added jurisdiction in place, the Clean Water Act will prohibit many common agricultural practices in or around these ephemeral features. Any unpermitted discharge—whether pesticides, fertilizer or even disturbed soil—will leave farmers vulnerable to enforcement by EPA, the Corps, or private citizens, with severe potential penalties. This means unless farmers are able to navigate the regulatory system to secure a costly Clean Water Act permit, farming in many areas will be significantly restricted.

The maps’ next layer shows how the rule expands the definition of regulated “adjacent waters” to cover all waters (including wetlands) that lie, even partially, within 100 feet on either side of these newly regulated ephemeral drains. Next, they show where even more “adjacent waters” may lie—and this is where the vast uncertainty comes in. Where any part of a water or wetland is within the 100-year floodplain of a tributary, and not more than 1,500 feet (1/4 mile) from the tributary, that entire water feature is regulated. The uncertainty springs from the fact that many areas lack flood zone maps. What’s more, many such maps are out-of-date, and most ditches and ephemeral streams do not have mapped flood zones. The result is that farmers and other landowners lack even the basic tools to identify wetlands or other waters that are automatically regulated under the rule.

The final blow—the almost unlimited reach of the rule—is shown in the final map layer that covers waters that are not “tributaries” or “adjacent,” but may still be jurisdictional based on a “significant nexus” to downstream waters. The WOTUS rule allows “significant nexus” regulation of waters (including wetlands) that lie even partially within 4,000 feet (about ¾ mile) of any tributary. Mapping 4,000 feet from even just the known ephemeral streams—ignoring ditches and not-yet-identified ephemeral tributaries—shows that this 4,000-foot zone of uncertainty covers the entire landscape in many parts of the country.

Original article August 13 by American Farm Bureau Federation


August 14, 2015

NPPC, Farm Bureau file brief in EPA data release case

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), in a brief filed this week, asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in St. Louis to reverse a U.S. District Court’s decision to dismiss their lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its release to environmental activists personal data on thousands of livestock farmers.

The lower court ruled that NPPC and AFBF lacked “standing” to bring the case, which stems from EPA’s February 2013 release of information from farms in 30 states to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Earth Justice and the Pew Charitable Trusts under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests the groups filed.

In some instances, the data contained farmers’ home addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses and personal medical information.

After objections from NPPC, AFBF and other farm groups, EPA requested that the environmental organizations return the data but reissued it after redacting some of the information.

The reissued data still contained some personal information on farmers.

In July 2013, the agency was set to release more data when the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota court issued a restraining order. That court in April dismissed the case.

Original article August 12 by Pork Network


August 12, 2015

U.S. pork exports and live hog imports higher in May

U.S. pork exports in May were reported at 437.5 million pounds, up 1.5 percent relative to a year ago. Exports to South Korea declined from the previous month but remain strong when compared to May 2014 exports. Combined China and Hong Kong imports totaled 37.4 million pounds of U.S. pork in May, but shipments are down nearly 51 percent year to date. Lower domestic pork prices in the second half of 2015 relative to 2014 could potentially spur increased demand for U.S. pork abroad despite the underlying strength of the U.S. currency. USDA has revised the 2015 annual pork export forecast higher by 145 million pounds to 5.065 billion pounds. U.S. pork imports in May were 81.6 million pounds, down 2.3 percent from a year ago. Due to plentiful domestic pork availability; demand for imported pork is likely to wane through the remainder of the year. USDA has revised the annual pork import forecast lower by 75 million pounds to 1.083 billion pounds. 

Live swine imports from Canada in May totaled a little over 419,000 head, 6.7 percent above a year ago. All categories of finishing animals (isoweans and feeder pigs) and slaughter hogs were seen higher year-over-year. Based on the weekly Canadian live animal import report WA_LS635, year-to-date total live hog imports from Canada through June 27 ran about 12 percent higher than the same period last year, the bulk of which were feeder pig imports. The weak Canadian dollar has created a strong incentive for Canadian hog producers to ship larger volumes of live hogs into the United States for a higher price than if they marketed those same animals in Canada. USDA revised total annual live hog imports higher to 5.3 million head for 2015. 

Read entire July 16, 2015 Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook

Original article July 31 by U.S. Department of Agriculture


August 11

Senate highway bill includes riders on ports, hours of service rule waiver

Included in a six-year highway funding bill approved last Thursday by the Senate are two provisions important to the U.S. pork industry.

The “Ports Performance Act” would require the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Bureau of Transportation Statistics to collect metrics of port marine terminal productivity, which would serve as an early warning system for determining when ports stop operating normally and for when the federal government needs to step in to protect the economy.

The ports measure was prompted by the recent work slowdowns at West Coast ports, the result of a labor dispute between the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents companies that own West Coast ports, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents dock workers. The nearly four-month slowdowns cost the U.S. meat and poultry sectors hundreds of millions of dollars.

The other provision would permanently extend for truckers hauling livestock a waiver from DOT’s Hours of Service rule, which requires drivers to take a 30-minute rest break for every 8 hours of service. It would have prohibited drivers hauling livestock and poultry from caring for animals during the rest period.

NPPC has petition the agency each of the last three years, seeking a waiver from the requirement. This spring, livestock operators were granted a two-year waiver – the maximum allowable under the current law – from the rule, beginning June 12. The waiver would become a permanent part of the federal highway safety law under the Senate bill.

Because the House passed a transportation bill last week that only extends highway funding for three months, the Senate also took up and approved that measure. When it returns after a month-long recess, the House is expected to consider a multi-year highway bill.

Original article August 4 by National Pork Producers Council.


August 10, 2015

KPA to host Pork Chop Open Golf Tournament

It’s time for the Kansas Pork Association’s annual Pork Chop Open! Dust off your clubs, call up your buddies and join us!

What: 18-hole, 4-man scramble

When: Friday, September 18, 2015

Registration: 9 a.m.

Shotgun Start: 10 a.m.

Meal provided after tournament 

Where: Cedar Hills Golf Course

1344 Quivira Road

Washington, KS 66968


Why: Fundraiser for the Kansas Pork Association

How to get involved:

Play: $250 per team
Registration deadline: Sept 4, 2015

Sponsor: Event Sponsor- $250, Hole Sponsor- $50, Include a company gift in player bags

Questions: Contact KPA at 785-776-0442 or

August 7, 2015

Withdraw South Africa’s Trade Benefits, Says NPPC

In comments submitted last night, the National Pork Producers Council asked the Obama administration to withdraw or at least limit preferential trade benefits for South Africa because of that country’s reluctance to provide market access to U.S. pork.

“South Africa has shown that it is pleased to take advantage of U.S. preferential trade programs but is unwilling to extend even customary equitable treatment to imports of pork from the United States,” said NPPC in comments to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

South Africa gets duty-free access to the U.S. market for dozens of its products under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). In 2014, it shipped $1.7 billion of goods to the United States under AGOA and $1.3 billion under the GSP program.

NPPC noted that South Africa enforces “harsh and unjustifiable” import restrictions on U.S. pork to prevent diseases for which there is a negligible risk of transmission from U.S. pork products. The South African Ministry of Agriculture, for example, imposes time and temperature requirements on U.S. pork as mitigation for trichinae, which is nearly non-existent in the U.S. commercial hog herd.

The organization pointed out that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has offered to certify that pork exported to South Africa would only come from farms participating in the U.S. pork industry’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus program, which includes biosecurity measures to prevent exposure of pigs to sources of trichinae. Although the certification has been accepted by a number of other countries, it has been rejected by South Africa. 

South Africa is maintaining trade barriers, said NPPC, despite overwhelming evidence that they are unsupported by international standards or any legitimate scientific or World Trade Organization-legal justification and is making no effort to lift them.

“We have undertaken efforts to accommodate South African demands even though we know and its officials know that they are unnecessary,” NPPC said. “We have done this with enormous trepidation because of the risk that other countries will see the South African approach as a model for how to restrict imports without raising tariffs. But it is time to draw the line.

“We believe that South Africa’s eligibility for benefits under AGOA should be withdrawn,” NPPC concluded.

Original article August 6 by NPPC.   


August 6, 2015
Pork Continues to be the Fastest-Growing Protein in Foodservice

With a growth rate outpacing all other meats, pork continues to be the fastest-growing protein in foodservice since 2011. According to Technomic, Inc.’s 2015 Volumetric Assessment of Pork in Foodservice, pork’s popularity in the food industry continues to grow.
The study showed that total pork sold through foodservice outlets reached a record 9.8 billion pounds, reflecting a volume increase of 533 million pounds over 2013 when the survey was last conducted. Gaining momentum, this number is slightly higher than the 462 million-pound growth experienced from 2011 to 2013. The 2.6 percent pork category increase in 2015 outpaced the protein growth average of 0.7 percent and the total foodservice industry growth of 1.2 percent.
“We are pleased to see the continued growth of pork in foodservice,” said Derrick Sleezer, president of the National Pork Board and a producer from Cherokee, Iowa. “The volumetric study shows that even during a time period when we saw record-high pork prices and low inventories, pork continued to be the strongest performer in the foodservice industry, underscoring pork’s growing popularity.”
Since 2013, processed pork has driven growth of the total pork category, increasing by 2.8 percent on an annual basis and making up 78 percent of the total volume. Sales of fresh pork grew 2.0 percent. The four largest categories driving the pork category growth were bacon, processed ham, breakfast sausage and ribs. Sales of these products represented 65 percent of the carcass-weight equivalent. Other study highlights include:

In categories where both uncooked and pre-cooked pork offerings exist, uncooked pork grew at a slightly faster rate than pre-cooked pork over the past two years – 3.4 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.

In categories where bone-in and boneless pork were available, sales of both versions increased since 2013, with boneless pork growing at a slightly faster rate.

“Pork is a versatile protein that is being leveraged around the country by foodservice operators who want to deliver flavor, inspiration and innovation across their menus,” Sleezer said. “Pork producers are proud to provide safe, wholesome products that can fit into any menu.”
The study also showed that of the 28 pork product categories reviewed, 19 demonstrated positive sales growth. Carnita meat and pulled pork were the fastest growing categories, with a compound annual growth rate of 13.2 percent and 13.1 percent, respectively. Both of these categories almost doubled since 2013. Notable growth also was seen in Canadian bacon, bratwurst, shoulder/butt, prosciutto, pork hocks/shanks and chops. Bacon and processed ham use grew from 2013 to 2015 by 195 million pounds and 93 million pounds, respectively, and were the highest volume among all categories.
“When it comes to the three major foodservice day-parts, breakfast leads the way with pork gaining popularity at lunch and dinner,” Sleezer said. “It’s clear that pork is on the menu across all foodservice segments. Full-service and limited-service restaurants represent about two-thirds of all pork volume sold.”
For an infographic on the Technomic, Inc. study, click here.

Original article August 5 by National Pork Board.

August 5, 2015

Social Media: 7 tips for taking farm photos

Editor's note: The following column appeared in the July 2015 issue of Dairy Herd Management.

Imagine you’re living in a city and working in a cube. The only thing you grow is a house plant, and your only animal interaction is with a cat. To take a break from staring at numbers and sales reports, you take a minute to scroll through Instagram. There, you see a photo of a calf and a kid, and you just can’t help but crack a smile. That night, when you swing past the grocery store to grab cream for your morning coffee, that photo pops back into your head, and you smile again.

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, how important is it for you to share photos of your life on a farm? Your customers love to see what you do everyday, but taking good photos on the farm can be a challenge. To get you started, here are some quick tips to help you capture great shots.

1. The best camera is the one you have on you. While a fancy digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) can take great photos, it won’t get any shots if it’s in the house and you’re outside. Most of us have a cell phone, and most cell phones have pretty decent cameras on them these days. Don’t think you must use a fancy camera to take photos.

2. Know your camera’s limitations. While cell phone cameras can produce great photos, they are usually limited in dim light, and don’t have real “zoom” features. While you can still get great shots at dawn, or of wildlife out in your fields, it will take practice to determine your camera’s capabilities.

3. Take time to wipe off your lens. Professional photographers wouldn’t dream of going to a photo shoot without cleaning their lens, and they don’t have to worry about cow drool. If you’re using your cell phone camera, there’s a good chance there will be fingerprint smudges, milk or manure on your lens. Take a minute to make sure your camera lens is clean.

4. Flash may not always be your friend. While it may be tempting to snap a photo of your cows in the dark, using a flash may only turn their eyes into glowing zombie beacons. When you’re taking head-on photos of critters or humans, it’s probably best to skip the flash.

5. Try different angles. If you’re snapping a photo of a child, a calf or kitten, don’t just snap from your level – get down to theirs. If you’re feeling adventurous try some shots from ground level.

6. Play around with camera settings and modes. I find taking pictures of hungry calves can be a real challenge, because they move so quickly. However, if I switch my camera to “Sports” mode, I get a lot less blurry photos and end up with some real keepers. Try out the different options your camera has – you won’t break it!

7. You’re not wasting film so take lots of photos. The number of photos you take directly correlates with the number of chances of ending up with a great photo. You can always delete the extras later.

Carrie Mess farms in partnership with her husband Patrick and his parents on their 100-cow, 300-acre dairy farm near Lake Mills, Wis. She also speaks to agricultural organizations, empowering farmers to tell their own stories through social media.

"Dairy Carrie" can be reached via
Twitter: @DairyCarrie
Follow her blog, The Adventures of Dairy Carrie 

August 4, 2015

AASV releases updated influenza educational materials

The recent challenges facing the poultry industry following the introduction of high path avian influenza and the pandemic H1N1 outbreak in 2009 remind us of the significant impact influenza can have on animal and public health. AASV partnered with the ISU Center for Food Security and Public Health, the National Pork Board and the USDA to produce the a collection of educational materials as an update on the diagnostic and vaccine capabilities at our disposal to address the threat of influenza A viruses in swine.

In addition, the USDA Swine Influenza Virus Surveillance program, which began in 2010, is on-going and serves as a vital part of our monitoring system for influenza viruses in the U.S. swine herd. This program can identify new influenza strains as they emerge in the swine population allowing us to monitor strain variation and promote effective vaccine and diagnostic reagent development. Your continued support through diagnostic sample submissions is critical.

These materials were mailed to all U.S. members this week and I hope you find them to be educational. The materials were developed and distributed thanks to funding from USDA. In addition, the ISU Center for Food Security and Public Health also published a very thorough scientific review to help veterinarians and others identify the best available IAV-S vaccine for a particular infected herd. The authors describe key principles of IAV-S structure and replication, protective immunity, currently available vaccines, and vaccine technologies that show promise for the future. They discuss strategies to optimize the use of available IAV-S vaccines, based on information gathered from modern diagnostics and surveillance programs.

All of these materials are available online as follows:

Original article July 27 by Pork Network

August 3, 2015

Mount Everest and pig production

Purina teams with Mount Everest climber and leading producers

Think about managing a swine facility. Chances are you imagine pens of healthy pigs, dedicated employees and livestock industry leaders. You likely didn’t think of Mount Everest – until now.

Purina Animal Nutrition recently teamed with a Mount Everest climber and leading producers to apply learnings to the swine industry. The discussion was part of an interactive industry seminar held at World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa. Speakers included: Lance Fox, DVM, Mount Everest climber; Steve Stitzlein, production supervisor of Heimerl Farms; and Purina Animal Nutrition swine specialists Becky Bierlein and Dan McManus, DVM.

Bierlein opened the discussion by highlighting the similarities between the climb and swine production.

“From disease outbreaks to uncertain markets, we each have our own Mount Everest,” Bierlein said. “Whether you’re looking to climb Mount Everest or manage a swine facility, it’s not the challenge that defines you, but rather how you handle it and what you learn from it that makes you successful.”

The panel agreed: No matter the challenge a person is facing, a thought-out strategy, perseverance and teamwork can help in achieving the goal.

Create a long-term plan.

Fox first thought of climbing the world’s tallest mountain in 1997 – more than a decade before making the 29,035-foot climb.

“The summit didn’t happen overnight,” he said, explaining the climb is equal to climbing 30 Empire State Buildings. “From the time I decided to do it, it took 12 years of planning and preparation to make it to the mountain. It then took nine days of hiking to get to the base camp in Nepal and 45 days to climb to the peak.”

“A long-term plan is equally important when managing swine,” Bierlein said. “When we’re working in the nursery, big changes don’t happen immediately. We need to define our target goals and set small milestones to get there.”

Build a solid team.

The steep ascent to the summit of Mount Everest is not a solo activity. Fox credits a team of fellow climbers from around the world for helping make his climb a success.

“We had a strong team that worked well together,” he said. “We learned each other’s strengths, determined plans of action and celebrated victories together.”

Stitzlein recognized a similar mentality for the growth of Heimerl Farms in Johnstown, Ohio. In recent years, the operation has grown from 25,000-head to 750,000-head managed annually.

“Raising pigs is a people business. The people must know pigs and they must work well together,” he said. “One of our top priorities is to hire good people and to help them succeed. The right people in the right positions with the right mindset can make a world of difference.”

Set clear goals.

After picking up the book “Everest,” Fox set his sights on the summit of Mount Everest. He points to a clear vision of this end goal for helping him through training, budgeting, travel and the climb.

“To achieve any worthwhile goal, you need a lot of hard work and a little bit of sacrifice,” he said. “It’s truly mind over matter when you get down to it.”

Stitzlein and the team at Heimerl Farms followed a similar goal-focused route when building their 750,000-head business. The team worked together to outline clear production goals and attainable performance milestones. This information is compiled into a wean-to-finish manual provided to their growers.

“We set goals of 1.75+-pound average daily gain and 2.4 or lower feed conversion in the wean-to-finish phase and 1.90+-pound average daily gain and 2.65 or lower feed conversion in the finishing phase,” he said. “We work with growers and they turn in information weekly to work toward these goals. If growers exceed the benchmarks, we provide them a bonus.”

To help meet these targets, the manual also includes protocols for: biosecurity; treatment and herd health; barn preparation, maintenance and ventilation; nursery procedures; finisher procedures; feed budgets and nutrition; forms and templates; necropsy/posting and diagnosis; and opportunities for certification and continuing education.

Recognize and overcome obstacles.

Fox faced many obstacles during his ascent. Mount Everest experiences 500-1,000 avalanches per year and is famous for an area known as “The Death Zone.”

“During the climb, our team missed an avalanche by just 20 minutes,” Fox said. “Throughout the climb, I lost 30 pounds – as much as two pounds per day. In ‘The Death Zone,’ the air is so thin that brain activity slows. Simple activities, like tying your shoes, take 20 minutes to think about.”

Today’s swine producer faces obstacles as well.

McManus points to lightweight pigs as a current industry challenge.

“Light-born pigs can traditionally be 20 pounds behind at the end of nursery,” he said. “These small pigs can be a challenge, but they can also be an opportunity. If we sort the smallest 10-20 percent and manage them separately with the right tools, they can catch up and be successful.”

Persevere to the finish line.

Fox didn’t let history interfere with his Mount Everest goal. Before the climb, he knew that only 42 percent of climbers summit the peak.

“Our team knew that it was possible – that 42 percent of climbers had triumphed, so we kept going,” he said. “Each day of the climb was completed one step at a time. The biggest summit is done by putting one foot in front of the other.”

McManus says moving forward one step at a time is also important when raising lightweight pigs. He recently worked with a manager who purchased lightweight pigs from neighboring facilities, filling his nursery with the lighter pigs.

“History showed us that these pigs could be a challenge, but we worked together to outline a plan that included steps from start to finish,” he said. “We sorted the pigs by size and provided gel, electrolytes, starter feed and antibiotics. With four unbelievable nursery managers, the pigs went from a start weight of 8.2 pounds to an exit weight of 52 pounds with only 2.2 percent mortality and an ADG of 0.85 pounds.”

“This facility manager – much like Dr. Fox – showed us that it can be done,” McManus added. “Determine your goal, create a plan and set your mind to it.”

To learn more about overcoming challenges in young pig nutrition and management, visit or contact Dan McManus at (712) 898-2162 or or Becky Bierlein at or (419) 773-0280.

Purina Animal Nutrition LLC ( is a national organization serving producers, animal owners and their families through more than 4,700 local cooperatives, independent dealers and other large retailers across the United States. Driven by an uncompromising commitment to animal excellence, Purina Animal Nutrition is an industry innovator, offering America’s leading brands of complete feeds, supplements, premixes, ingredients and specialty technologies for the livestock and lifestyle animal markets. Headquartered in Shoreview, Minn., Purina Animal Nutrition LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Land O’Lakes, Inc.

Because of factors outside of Purina Animal Nutrition LLC’s control, individual results to be obtained, including but not limited to: financial performance, animal condition, health or performance cannot be predicted or guaranteed by Purina Animal Nutrition LLC.

Original article July 20 by Morning Ag Clips


July 31, 2015

Podcast: Distance-learning swine program available for undergraduates

A very successful distance-learning program is available for undergraduate students interested in the swine industry

Date: July 20, 2015
Length: 6:38
Speaker: VP, Producer and Industry Relations, National Pork Board

Click here to listen.


July 30, 2015

NPB Animal Science Research Webinar Series

How to Beat the Long-term Effects of Seasonal Pig Stress

Pork producers know that high summer temperatures can lead to heat stress and poor pig performance, but they may not know how long those effects can last and how much they cost if not addressed correctly. These topics will be the focus of the Pork Checkoff’s newest educational opportunity, “Assessing and Understanding the Impact of Seasonal Loss of Productivity,” a free, four-part webinar series that starts August 4.

“The Checkoff’s Animal Science Committee is pleased to again bring this type of research-based information to all producers this year,” said Chris Hostetler, director of animal science at the National Pork Board. “The subject of the series affects all producers regardless of farm size or location, yet producers have few tools to combat the effects of summer heat. However, being aware its long-term impact is the first step.”

The webinars will be held each Tuesday during August at noon (Central Daylight Time). There is no cost, but participants must pre-register. To register, go to

August 4: Dr. Lance Baumgard – Assessing the Impact of Seasonal Loss of Productivity

The economic impact of the loss of productivity due primarily to seasonal heat stress is directly related to the underlying biology of pigs.

August 11: Dr. Tim Safranski – Impact of in utero heat stress on subsequent growth, composition and reproduction

These results suggest that heat stress of developing embryos could have a significant effect on the subsequent performance of pigs.

August 18: Dr. Shelly Rhoads – Impact of in utero heat stress on subsequent lactational performance and performance of offspring

The results of this experiment indicate that in utero heat stress has long-lasting and transgenerational effects on measurements of swine productivity.

August 25: Dr. Jason Ross – Understanding the biology of seasonal infertility to develop mitigation strategies for swine

Selecting females that are heat tolerant may improve reproductive performance during the heat of summer.

To register, go to


July 29, 2015

NPPC Weighs in on WTO Case Against Indonesia’s Pork Import Restriction

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) submitted the following comments to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in response to Federal Register Notice USTR-2014-0010, titled “WTO Dispute Settlement Proceeding Regarding Indonesia-Importation of Horticultural Products, Animals and Animal Products.”

NPPC is a national association representing a federation of 43 state producer organizations and the federal and global interests of 67,000 U.S. pork operations. The U.S. pork industry is a major value-added enterprise in the agricultural economy and a significant contributor to the overall U.S. economy.

Although Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country, there is significant potential demand for pork products in the country’s Hotel Restaurant and Institutional (HRI) sector, as well as among minority populations within the country. Unfortunately, the Indonesian government imposes a variety of restrictions on pork imports that make it extremely difficult for the U.S. pork industry to export product to the Indonesian market.

Indonesian import requirements for pork are contained in two regulations: Regulation No. 46/MDAG/PER/8/201, titled “Animal and Animal Product Import and Export Provision”; and Regulation No. 139/PD/410/12/2014, titled “Importation of Carcasses, Meat, And/Or Processed Meat Products.” Translated copies of both documents are attached to this submission.

Indonesia maintains an extremely complicated and burdensome process for obtaining meat import permits. As described in the regulations cited above, pork importers must obtain import permits from both the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Trade. These permits are issued on a quarterly basis and only days before the beginning of the new quarter. Any imports authorized under the permit system must arrive during the same quarter for which the permits were issued. Indonesia’s highly bureaucratic import permit approval process for pork, combined with the very limited period of time allowed for shipments under the import permit system, severely restrict market access.

Additionally, Indonesian regulations require that all importers utilize at least 80 percent of the permits authorized for a given quarter. Importers who fail to make use of 80 percent of their permits during the quarter are penalized through restrictions on the grant of future import permits. To avoid penalties for underuse of permits, Indonesian importers consistently apply for permit levels well below their anticipated import needs.

In our view, Indonesia’s import permit system for pork violates numerous provisions of the WTO Agreement on Import Licensing Procedures, including, but not necessarily limited to, Articles 1.2, 1.5, 1.6, 2.2, 3.2 and 3.3 of the Import Licensing Agreement. In addition, Indonesia’s import regime for pork is likely in violation of GATT Article XI.1, titled “General Elimination of Quantitative Restrictions,” as well as Article 4.2 of the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, requiring the removal of market access restrictions other than tariffs on agricultural products.

Indonesia currently allows imports of pork from only five U.S. slaughter and processing pork plants, severely limiting the supply of U.S. pork to the Indonesian market. According to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service office in Jakarta, the Indonesian government is making “little effort” to approve additional plants. Indonesia’s refusal to grant approval to additional U.S. pork plants is particularly frustrating in light of the fact that, as late as 2007, Indonesia accepted the USDA plant inspection and approval system for pork, allowing imports from all USDA-approved plants.

Indonesia’s refusal to accept the USDA plant inspection and approval system as equivalent to its own is in conflict with the principle of “equivalence” contained in Article 4 of the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (“WTO SPS Agreement”). The Indonesian government’s apparent refusal to conduct the audits required to expand the list of U.S. pork plants approved for export to Indonesia may also violate various provisions of the WTO SPS Agreement, in particular Article 2.3.

Regulation No. 139/PD/410/ 2014, Appendix II, provides a list of pork products that are eligible for import into Indonesia. Pork offal (HTS 0206) is not included on the list. There is no science-based reason for excluding pork offal from import eligibility. Indonesia should take action to ensure that pork offal can be imported into the country.

Finally, Article 17 of Regulation 46/M-DAG/PER/8/2013 stipulates that imported product may only be used in “industry, hotel, restaurant, catering, and/or other specific requirements.” This list appears to exclude supermarkets or wet markets. There is no science- or food safety-based reason for excluding the sale of imported pork to supermarkets or wet markets. Indonesia should take action to ensure that pork can be marketed to all retail outlets.

In summary, NPPC commends the U.S. government, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in particular, for pursuing a WTO dispute settlement case against Indonesia related to its import restrictions on agricultural products, including pork. We urge the U.S. government to use the WTO dispute settlement process to achieve full elimination of the Indonesian barriers to pork imports described in this submission

Original article July 13 by National Pork Producers Council.


July 28, 2015

Production of Pork Surpasses Beef for First Time in History

A big shift is predicted to take place in the U.S. red meat industry. For the first time in 75 years, the industry is expected to produce more pork than beef in the second quarter. 

USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) has released its forecast for commercial beef in 2015 to be 23.8 billion pounds with pork set to reach 24.5 billion pounds. The estimate for beef is 185 million pounds below its June estimates. 

The report says second-quarter total red meat and poultry production are below earlier estimates "because lower beef and turkey production will likely offset higher broiler and pork production." 

Although dairy cow slaughter is slightly above a year ago, the ERS says it has not offset reduced beef cow slaughter. It says the decrease in beef cow slaughter is because of low cow inventories and better U.S. pasture conditions. 

Hog litter size and inventories have rebounded. 

Turkey and egg production are lower because of impacts from the nation's outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian flu (HPAI). Although broiler production hasn't been affected, trade in all poultry products has declined greatly because of import bans due to avian flu.

Original article July 23 by Brownfield Ag News


July 27, 2015

USDA measures feral swine impact on U.S. farms

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) in cooperation with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is surveying U.S. crop producers to measure the impact feral swine have on their crops and livestock.

“We will collect data about feral swine to estimate the extent of damage these animals may have caused to agriculture in 11 states,” said NASS Census and Survey Division Director Barbara Rater. “We thank producers in advance for their attention to this survey. The responses, which are always anonymous, can help inform policy and management actions about feral swine.”

“We believe feral swine are a significant concern for farmers in many states,” said Dr. Stephanie A. Shwiff, project leader of the APHIS’ Economic Research of Human Wildlife Conflict project. “With this survey, we begin the process of quantifying the extent of the problem, which should help us determine the best solution.”

Feral swine are an invasive species that eat and destroy many field crops, such as corn, milo (sorghum), and rice. They also prey upon young livestock and other small animals. Feral swine are known to carry numerous diseases that are transferrable to livestock, humans, pets, and wildlife. This survey marks the first time USDA is surveying producers to determine the extent of feral swine damage.

Almost 10,000 farmers across 11 states (Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas) will hear from NASS’ interviewers. The survey asks crop producers if they’ve noticed feral swine around their crops and livestock and if any of the crop damage or livestock losses are attributed to feral swine. Several questions also focus on control methods producers use to address their feral swine problems. This is the first step towards gaining a better understanding of the extent of feral swine damage, which will allow USDA agencies to devise efforts to combat this problem. Future efforts will focus specifically on livestock producers and their problems with feral swine.

NASS maintains confidentiality of all survey responses as required by Federal law (Title 7, U.S. Code, Section 2276 and the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act). The agency safeguards the privacy of all respondents, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified, even to cooperating internal agencies.

APHIS is a multi-faceted Agency with a broad mission area that includes protecting and promoting U.S. agricultural health, and carrying out wildlife damage management activities, among other goals. In 2014, Congress provided funding for the agency to establish the National Feral Swine Damage Management Program whose mission is to lead a national collaborative effort among Federal, State, Tribal and local entities to reduce damage caused by feral swine.

Original article July 22 by Pork Network


July 24, 2015

Roberts Introduces Bill To Repeal Meat Labeling; Canada, Mexico Reject Voluntary Approach

Legislation introduced this week by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., would repeal country of origin labeling requirements for beef, pork and poultry and stave off trade retaliation from Canada and Mexico, a move hailed by the National Pork Producers Council.

The U.S. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law requires meat to be labeled with the country where the animal from which it was derived was born, raised and harvested. (It also applies to fish, shellfish, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables and certain nuts.)

The World Trade Organization (WTO) in May rejected an appeal by the United States of the international trade body’s October 2014 ruling that the COOL provisions on beef and pork discriminate against Canadian and Mexican animals that are sent to the United States to be fed out and processed. The WTO decision will allow punitive tariffs to be put on U.S. goods going into Canada and Mexico, which are asking for a combined $3.1 billion in retaliation. A WTO arbitrator now is determining the level of retaliation.

“We’re grateful that Chairman Roberts recognizes that repeal of COOL meat labeling is the only move left, with retaliation from Canada and Mexico imminent,” said NPPC President Dr. Ron Prestage, a veterinarian and pork producer from Camden, S.C. “The United States had its day in court, and it lost. We’re in the sentencing phase now, and without repeal, a sentence of up to $3 billion soon will be imposed on our exports.”

According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, the average U.S. pork producer is expected to lose $10 per hog beginning later this year and into next year. Based on Hayes’s estimates, Prestage said retaliation from Canada and Mexico against U.S. pork likely would double pork producer losses. “Retaliation would be devastating and undoubtedly would cause financial ruin for some pork producers,” he said.

A measure also introduced today by Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., would repeal mandatory meat labeling and replace it with a voluntary labeling program.

But because Stabenow’s bill – like the existing law – calls for labels to provide information on where animals are born, raised and slaughtered, it still would necessitate segregation of Canadian and Mexican livestock, leading to discrimination against them – a violation of international trade rules.

Canada issued a statement rejecting Stabenow’s voluntary approach and said it would continue to pursue retaliation. “The only acceptable outcome remains for the United States to repeal COOL,” said Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and International Trade Minister Ed Fast.

“While we appreciate Sen. Stabenow’s efforts, we can’t support her bill because it would continue key features of a labeling regime that’s already been found to violate WTO rules,” NPPC’s Prestage said. “More importantly, it doesn’t satisfy Canada and Mexico, so it won’t stop retaliation, and we can’t afford to have our products restricted, through tariffs, to two of our top three markets.

“We don’t like it, Congress doesn’t like it, but the reality is that after four losses at the WTO, Canada and Mexico hold the cards.”

Although the United States could seek a WTO ruling on voluntary labeling or any other legislative proposal to which Canada and Mexico object, that process could take as long as two years, and Canada and Mexico likely would continue retaliating pending a decision. The current WTO arbitration panel will not review any new U.S. COOL proposal but only will determine the level of retaliation.

(When the European Union in a WTO case on beef hormones said it was in compliance and asked the United States to drop its retaliation, the United States refused to lift the retaliation. The EU’s only recourse was to file a WTO action to prove its compliance. The United States would find itself in a similar situation if it claimed a new COOL proposal brings it into WTO compliance.)

The House in June passed on a 300-131 vote legislation repealing the COOL meat labeling provisions.

Original release July 23 by National Pork Producers Council.


July 23, 2015

Yield Boost from cover crops

Cover crops boosted 2014 corn yields by an average of 3.7 bushels per acre

For the third year in a row, a national survey of farmers has shown that cover crops improve corn and soybean yields while providing a host of other benefits. The survey of more than 1,200 farmers revealed that cover crops boosted 2014 corn yields by an average of 3.7 bushels per acre (2.1 percent) and soybeans by 2.2 bushels per acre (4.2 percent). Cover crop acreage per farm more than doubled over the past five years.

The survey was conducted by the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) with funding from USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program and the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA). While the survey showed yield increases among growers who use cover crops, they are interested in more than the yield benefit. The three most-cited benefits of using cover crops were:

  • increased soil health (22 percent)
  • increased organic matter (20 percent)
  • reduced soil erosion (15 percent)

The survey provides powerful insight on the role of markets and financial programs in influencing cover crop decisions. “Nearly three-quarters of the cover crop users in the survey said commodity prices have little or no influence on whether they plant cover crops,” says Rob Myers, regional director of Extension programs for North Central Region SARE. “Many people speculate that low corn and soybean prices would stall the growth of cover crops, but the farmers in the survey are telling us—and demonstrating—that the benefits of cover crops outweigh lower commodity price considerations.”

On the other hand, 92 percent of the farmers who do not currently plant cover crops say economic incentives would somewhat or always influence cover crop adoption. “These results illustrate that economic incentives can help encourage farmers to consider cover crops, but once they start using them, the multiple benefits they are seeing will motivate them to continue using covers,” Myers notes.

The extensive survey, which was distributed with assistance from Corn and Soybean Digest and gathered perspective from 1,248 farmers—84 percent of whom plant cover crops—also gathered data on a wide range of issues, from management practices to landlord attitudes about cover crops to the most influential sources of information on the practice.

Watts says the survey will be a valuable tool for farmers, ag retailers, conservation advisors, policy makers and many others interested in conservation agriculture. “The survey results provide insight into the thinking behind cover cropping decisions and will help guide the research, education and promotion of the practice around the country,” he says.

Original article July 16 by Morning Ag Clips.


July 22, 2015

Tackling swine disease risks

Swine Health Information Center sets up shop in Perry, Iowa

Early reaction from pork producers and their veterinarians to the new Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) has been overwhelmingly positive, said Dr. Paul Sundberg, executive director of the center. He said producers are eager for the center to begin its work to help detect potential disease threats to their herds and to help avoid devastating losses from diseases.

Sundberg, a former practicing veterinarian and the former senior vice president for science and technology at the National Pork Board, has been working since July 1 to set up an office for the new organization and to arrange meetings with producers and others who have a stake in the health of the U.S swine herd.

The center will be located in Perry, Iowa, in office space leased from the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV), one of many partners SHIC hopes to enlist to aid the effort, Sundberg said. Another partner, the National Pork Board, has provided $15 million in Pork Checkoff funding over five years. Sundberg said that SHIC is an independent organization but that it will work closely with veterinarians, pork producers, swine genetics companies, animal-health product providers and organizations including the Pork Board, AASV, the National Pork Producers Council, land-grant universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, among others.

“The center is in its infant stages, and we want make sure we aren’t creating unrealistic expectations for our work,” Sundberg said. “We are not going to prevent another disease such as PRRS, or circovirus, or porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED). What we can do is develop better diagnostic capabilities for earlier detection of high-risk pathogens and to provide data analysis to help producers and their veterinarians improve the management of the health risks for the pigs on their farms.”

Sundberg said another key role of the center will be to develop an international swine health information network to identify and prioritize high-risk pathogens worldwide. He said he will be meeting soon with veterinary schools that have contacts at universities in other countries to get ideas for forming the international network.

He said such a network could have been helpful in managing the swine industry’s most recent devastating virus, PED. He said that in March of 2013 AASV identified PED as an international threat. “Everybody said it’s a terrible thing and a good thing we didn’t have it here. Then it showed up here in May.

“I think in a similar circumstance, SHIC will have a better heads-up from the international network, and a better ability to improve management of the disease after it gets here through improved diagnostics that will be formed from the network and through producer-to-producer communication and coordination. It can help us save a lot of pigs that otherwise could succumb to the disease.”

Sundberg said he and the SHIC board, made up of representatives of the National Pork Board, NPPC, AASV, plus at-large pork producers and leaders, are pleased by the early industry response and are eager to begin delivering results. The board president is Dr. Daryl Olsen of the Audubon-Manning Veterinary Clinic; the vice president is Dr. Howard Hill of Iowa Select Farms.


July 21, 2015

NPPC, State Pork Groups Urge Senate To Act On COOL

The National Pork Producers Council and 34 state pork producer organizations are urging the Senate to take up legislation to repeal country of origin labeling requirements for beef, pork and poultry before Congress takes a month-long recess beginning in early August.

The U.S. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law requires meat to be labeled with the country where the animal from which it was derived was born, raised and harvested. (It also applies to fish, shellfish, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables and certain nuts.)

The World Trade Organization (WTO) in May rejected an appeal by the United States of the international trade body's October 2014 ruling that the COOL provisions on beef and pork discriminate against Canadian and Mexican animals, which they send to the United States to be fed out and processed. The WTO decision allows Canada and Mexico to place retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods going into their countries.

In a letter sent to every member of the Senate, NPPC and the state pork associations urged lawmakers "to introduce and pass legislation to repeal country of origin labeling requirements for pork, beef and poultry before the August recess. Without swift repeal, the Congress will imperil U.S. exports and jobs."

Canada has asked the WTO to authorize $3 billion (Canadian dollars, or about $2.4 billion U.S. dollars) a year in retaliatory tariffs against U.S. imports, and Mexico is seeking $713 million in retaliation.

Some senators have suggested making COOL voluntary, a proposal dismissed by the pork groups. "At this point, if Congress were to change the labeling law, the WTO would not review such changes," the organizations said in their letter. "The only thing left for the WTO to do in the case is to determine the level of retaliation that Canada and Mexico can extract from the United States, whose day in court is over."

They pointed out that Canada and Mexico are insisting that they will not remove the retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products until there the meat labeling provisions of COOL are repealed.

The House in June approved H.R. 2393 to amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to repeal the meat labeling provisions. NPPC and the state pork associations are urging the Senate to take up that measure.

Click here to read the NPPC-state letter.

Original release July 20 by National Pork Producers Council.


July 20, 2015

New International Trichinae Guidance Will Help Boost U.S. Pork Exports

The United Nations' food-safety standard-setting body, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, Saturday finalized global guidelines that provide a way for countries to define negligible risk for trichinae and establish methods for monitoring risk over time. NPPC and the National Pork Board provided scientific input on the international guidance, which will help increase U.S. pork exports by hundreds of millions of dollars annually. A number of countries require testing for trichinae as a precondition to accepting exports of fresh chilled U.S. pork despite the fact that the United States is at negligible risk for the parasite. Trichinae is nearly non-existent in the U.S. pork supply because of increased knowledge of risk factors, adoption of controlled management practices and thorough biosecurity protocols, but many U.S. trading partners still have concerns over trichinae because of its prevalence in their domestic swine herds, which can result in severe human health issues. Dr. Ray Gamble, past president of the International Commission on Trichinellosis, has estimated the prevalence of trichinae in the U.S. commercial swine herd at 1-in-300 million, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes the U.S. commercial herd as low risk. The guidance approved by the Codex commission allows countries to establish a negligible risk "compartment," which must include controlled management conditions for swine herds, ongoing verification of the status of the compartment and a response plan for deviations from negligible risk status. Two years of data collection verifying negligible risk levels through slaughter surveillance, which consists of random sampling, is required to establish a compartment. Once established, a compartment can be monitored through on-farm audits, surveillance at slaughter or a combination of both. The U.S. pork industry's Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) Plus and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Trichinae Herd Certification programs will be used to create a compartment in the United States, the world's largest exporter of pork.

Original article July 17 by National Pork Producers Council.


July 17, 2015

PODCAST: What can be done to alleviate stress when moving hogs during the heat of the summer

Date: July 13, 2015
Length: 4:48
Speaker: Sherrie Webb, Director of Swine Welfare, National Pork Board

Listen to the podcast here.


July 16, 2015

U.S. Pork, Beef Promoted to Fast-Growing Hospitality Market at Food & Hotel Vietnam

USMEF recently promoted U.S. pork and beef to one of the fastest growing hospitality sectors in Asia during Food & Hotel Vietnam 2015. Funding support for USMEF’s efforts at the show was provided by the Pork Checkoff, the Beef Checkoff Program and the USDA Market Access Program (MAP).

The record­-setting show in Ho Chi Minh City featured 470 exhibitors from 36 countries and nearly 11,000 attendees. During the three-­day event, USMEF staff distributed U.S. pork and beef cut charts and informational brochures and answered questions from several existing and potential trade contacts. Staff coordinated meetings between USMEF members and local importers and organized the “Hot Cooking­-U.S. Beef” category of the Vietnam Culinary Challenge.

“Overall, Food & Hotel Vietnam proved to be another great success for USMEF, as it provided outstanding exposure for U.S. pork and beef to the Vietnamese market,” said Sabrina Yin, USMEF­ASEAN director. “Vietnam is one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. Many local restaurant chains continue to expand and more western food concepts are being introduced, which gives local diners more options. This is where it is important to promote the quality of U.S. red meat and provide menu ideas that feature U.S. pork and beef.”

According to Yin, Vietnam’s tourism industry continues to expand, with 2.6 million tourists arriving in the country over the first four months of 2015. Nearly 8 million tourists visited Vietnam in 2014.

USMEF joined other U.S. participants as part of the USA Pavilion, which was officially opened on the show’s first day by a visit from USDA Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) Administrator Philip Karsting and U.S. Consul General to Vietnam Rena Bitter. The USA Pavilion was about 60 percent larger compared to the 2013 show, Yin noted.

The U.S. beef portion of the Vietnam Culinary Challenge featured 23 young chefs from various hotels and restaurants in Vietnam competing against each other to come up with the best U.S. beef dish. Chosen as the cut for the competition was U.S. top sirloin butt center cut, which was selected because of its ability to be used in a variety of dishes. It is ideal to introduce such versatile cuts to the Vietnamese foodservice operators because it motivates them to add variety on their menus without compromising on quality, Yin said.

“The competition provided a platform for U.S. beef to be featured in an array of dishes infused with creative touches, as well as a chance for chefs to have a hands-­on experience in utilizing U.S. beef,” Yin added. “This event provided excellent exposure for U.S. meat to be featured in a world­-class cooking competition.”

Immediately following Food & Hotel Vietnam, USDA organized a U.S. Food Showcase and Reception, at which guests were treated to a buffet consisting of U.S. pork and beef dishes.

Original article by U.S. Meat Export Federation


July 15, 2015

Swine Operator Certification Training

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), in cooperation with the Kansas Pork Association, is developing a computer-based operator certification training course that will be available online via the Internet. The conversion to an online course was necessitated by continuing biosecurity concerns, the need to provide greater flexibility and to reduce travel costs and lost work hours. The online course is being designed in a module format so portions of the training can be completed as your schedule allows.

KDHE will not be conducting swine operator certification training in a classroom setting this year. Swine facilities with 1,000 or more animal units should have received a letter from KDHE providing more information. If you have questions, please call Tim Stroda at 785-776-0442.


July 14, 2015

U.N. Body Approves Guidance For Trichinae Risk

A new international guidance for establishing negligible risk for trichinae in swine could significantly boost exports of U.S. pork, according to the National Pork Producers Council.  

With strong support from NPPC and the National Pork Board, which provided scientific input, the United Nations’ food-safety standard-setting body, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, Saturday finalized global guidelines that provide a way for countries to define negligible risk for trichinae and establish methods for monitoring risk over time.

"The U.N. guidance will greatly increase confidence in the safety of pork and protect consumer health while facilitating trade,” said NPPC President Dr. Ron Prestage, a veterinarian and pork producer from Camden, S.C. “In turn, that will help us get more high-value U.S. pork to foreign destinations.”

A number of countries require testing for trichinae as a precondition to accepting exports of fresh chilled U.S. pork despite the fact that the United States is at negligible risk for the parasite. Other nations will accept only frozen or cooked pork. Elimination of the trichinae mitigation requirements could increase U.S. pork exports by hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Trichinae is nearly non-existent in the U.S. pork supply because of increased knowledge of risk factors, adoption of controlled management practices and thorough biosecurity protocols, but many U.S. trading partners still have concerns over trichinae because of its prevalence in their domestic swine herds, which can result in severe human health issues.

Dr. Ray Gamble, past president of the International Commission onTrichinellosis, has estimated the prevalence of trichinae in the U.S. commercial swine herd at 1-in-300 million, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes the U.S. commercial herd as low risk.

The guidance approved by the Codex commission allows countries to establish a negligible risk “compartment,” which must include controlled management conditions for swine herds, ongoing verification of the status of the compartment and a response plan for deviations from negligible risk status. Two years of data collection verifying negligible risk levels through slaughter surveillance, which consists of random sampling, is required to establish a compartment. Once established, a compartment can be monitored through on-farm audits, surveillance at slaughter or a combination of both.

The U.S. pork industry’s Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) Plus and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Trichinae Herd Certification programs will be used to create a compartment in the United States, the world’s largest exporter of pork.

Original release July 13 by National Pork Producers Council


July 13, 2015

Public Notice by Kansas Pork Association and the National Pork Board

The election of pork producer delegate candidates for the 2016 National Pork Producers (Pork Act) Delegate Body will take place at 1:00 p.m., Friday, July 31, 2015, in conjunction with an Executive Board meeting of the Kansas Pork Association at the IGP Executive Conference Center, 1980 Kimball Avenue, Manhattan, KS 66506. All Kansas pork producers are invited to attend.

Any producer, age 18 or older, who is a resident of the state and has paid all assessments due may be considered as a delegate candidate and/or participate in the election. All eligible producers are encouraged to bring with them a sales receipt proving that hogs were sold in their name and the checkoff deducted. For more information, contact Kansas Pork Association, 2601 Farm Bureau Road, Manhattan, KS, telephone 785/776-0442.


July 10, 2015

Protecting your business from fraud

The threat of fraud often centers on the continually evolving technologies used to conduct business and online banking. According to the 2015 Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) Fraud and Control Survey, 62% of respondents were targets of payments fraud in 2014. At KeyBank, our goal is to provide fraud awareness tips and actionable suggestions that can help you stay one step ahead of financial criminals.

Background: Understanding Fraud
Cyber-criminals continue to target online banking and electronic payment transactions. Fraud committed against business bank accounts generally occurs by writing unauthorized checks, through wire fraud, or through ACH fraud. With two bits of information, your business checking account number and bank routing number, a criminal can make a payment for goods or services either by phone or online.

How Fraud Originates
The usual starting point for fraud is social engineering, which is the practice of obtaining sensitive information by tricking people into breaking normal security procedures.

Cyber-criminals tend to:
• Look for those who divulge passwords or other sensitive financial or personal information
• Direct you to a website to download something malicious
• Ask for remote access to your computer
• Secretly install malicious software on your computer

Types of Social Engineering Fraud
One of the most common strains of social engineering is called phishing (pronounced “fishing”). Phishing usually involves a spammed email, phone call, voicemail, or text message sent by criminals who intend to capture personal information (e.g., Social Security number, credit card information, user IDs, and passwords). Phishing emails often appear to come from legitimate sources you know, or a company you specifically do business with.

Phishing emails often contain malware that can be installed on your computer when you take the action requested in the email. These emails may also attempt to steal your banking credentials or other personal information by asking you to confirm data. Malware can cause a wide range of problems, from system disruptions to the loss of personal data or identity theft. Your computer could also be infected when a user:
• Visits less-than-trustworthy websites (e.g., gambling, adult content)
• Downloads and installs “free” software
• Visits a website that has been compromised
• Responds to a malicious advertisement on a website

Another type of social engineering is account hijacking, whereby your email or any other account you have associated with a computing device or service is stolen. For example, an employee may receive an email that appears to be sent from a manager requesting transactions to be initiated or a change in account information. Employees should be sure to confirm via phone or in person if a change out of the ordinary is being requested.

Safeguarding Electronic Payments
To help protect against fraudulent wire transactions, organizations need to carefully monitor all electronic payments, and especially wire activity.

• Never send funds to unknown individuals. Completely understand and verify crisis or urgent requests.
• If you receive an unexpected, urgent message from any known senders asking you to wire funds to them, call them at a trusted phone number to ensure they truly sent the request.

What to Do if You Suspect You are a Victim of Fraud or Malware
• Call your financial institution Fraud Hotline for an analysis of the situation and further direction. After calling the hotline, contact your Relationship Manager to make them aware of the issue.

• If you are unsure whether an email is an authentic message from your financial institution, contact them right away to verify. Do not respond to the message. Instead, forward the message to your financial institutions fraud inquiry email address.

• If you suddenly do not have access to your treasury services online platform contact your financial services provider immediately to inform them. This may be a result of malware or phishing attempts. Losses are reduced, since you can prevent unauthorized transactions before they occur. Identify potential fraudulent items quickly as opposed to waiting for your monthly statement and then identifying a problem.

• If you have discovered malware on your computer, or clicked a link or opened an attachment and are not sure if your computer is safe, immediately disconnect your computer from the Internet and your company’s network. Consult with a qualified IT professional to scan for and/or remove any malware and viruses. Unfortunately, depending on the type of malware, any networked computer is at risk of infection from any other computer on the same network. This is why removing the computer from the network and Internet is so important.

• Remember, if you or your business are a victim of fraud, it’s important that you report it to the proper law enforcement authorities.

Your business benefits with early detection

  • Losses are reduced, since you can prevent unauthorized transactions before they occur.
  • Identify potential fraudulent items quickly as opposed to waiting for your monthly statement and then identifying a problem.
  • Preventing losses saves you the time and effort associated with attempting to recover lost funds.

Original article July 6 by Morning Ag Clips.


July 9, 2015

Student Chef Training in Mexico Promotes Quality, Versatility of U.S. Beef, Pork

Mexico continued its effort to promote U.S. beef and pork with chefs and other foodservice professionals by holding a series of student trainings across 26 campuses of the Universidad del Valle de Mexico (UVM). Funding support for the training was provided by the Beef Checkoff Program, the Pork Checkoff and the USDA Market Access Program (MAP).

The training program, first developed in 2014 as a pilot program, is designed to educate future chefs, food service managers and menu planners about the quality, value and versatility of U.S. red meat. In the most recent training session, students were given an overview of the U.S. beef and pork industries, lessons on handling meat, guidance on muscle cuts and a number educational sessions on preparing and presenting beef and pork dishes.

Both USMEF staff and UVM educators have already seen results from the program.

“The first year, we did the chef student trainings at 12 campuses as a pilot program, and the top chef educator later told us that as the school year went on, it was so clear which students had taken our training,” said Julieta Hernandez, USMEF HRI manager in Mexico. “Following that first training, we got a call from the school’s director saying he wanted to implement the training this year, and at even more campuses. Other schools have been asking about the program, too.”

The training is set up in three stages, beginning with the U.S. industry overview. That initial portion of the course educates student chefs on steps that take place before any cut of meat reaches their kitchens: U.S. production, inspections and purchasing points.

Stage Two of the training provides students with knowledge of various cuts of beef and pork. The students learn how to break down primals and work with each cut. They are shown that meats can be used in a lot of different ways, and in a lot of different types of meals.

In the third and final stage, the student chefs get hands-on training. They learn about the parameters of meat cuts, thermometers and temperature, and seasonings.

“Mexicans tend to overcook pork, it’s a cultural thing,” Hernandez said. “In our student chef training, we cook the meat properly and then let the students taste it after it’s been properly cooked. That has really opened some eyes.”

Along those same lines, basics such as when to know when a beef steak is medium or medium rare is another aspect of the training.

At the end of the training, students are given cuts of meat to prepare, using the knowledge gained from the course. By that point, they have been taught to use a number of methods using a grill, a pan or an oven.

Hernandez believes that training students is a good way to promote U.S. meat and create a core of future generations who will be committed to the product.

“These students will be working in restaurants and hotels across Mexico, and they will be the ones selecting the menus,” she said. “Giving them insight to U.S. beef and pork, and a taste of it, is important to do now as they get ready for their careers.”

Original article June 26 by U.S. Meat Export Federation


July 8, 2015

Handle vaccines properly

Maintaining herd health is of utmost importance to any successful swine operation. An infectious disease outbreak can cause economic devastation, and full recovery of a herd can take months.

“Vaccines are vital to disease prevention,” said Lucina Galina, DVM, managing veterinarian, Pork Technical Services, Zoetis. “But simply adhering to a stringent vaccination program does not ensure animals will be fully protected. Other factors contribute to a successful disease prevention program, including storing, handling and administering the product.”

Vaccine storage
Vaccines can lose their effectiveness if not stored at proper temperatures. Always store vaccines in a refrigerator with an airtight door and thermometer so the temperature can be checked regularly. For most products, the temperature should be between 35°F and 45°F.

Store vaccines in the center of the refrigerator, not in the door or at the bottom. The temperature in these areas is unstable and can affect the temperature of the vials. Place vials in order of their expiration date. Do not store other food or beverages in the refrigerator, and ensure it is cleaned monthly. Keep a record of this cleaning.

Before you vaccinate
Prior to administering vaccinations, calculate the amount of doses you will need. Inspect each vial to ensure it has not been tampered with or broken or has changed colors. Verify that it is the recommended temperature, and gently shake the vial to mix.

“The most important thing to do before you vaccinate any pigs is to assess their current health status,” Dr. Galina said. “Sick pigs might not get the full protection the vaccine offers if they already are fighting a disease or bacteria. If you have pigs that are sick, discuss the vaccination protocol with the herd veterinarian.”

In the pen
Gently shake the vial between administrations, and be careful not to contaminate the remaining doses. Use sterile or thoroughly cleaned needles to avoid transmitting the disease among animals or pens.

Use the appropriate needle based on the size of the pig. Change needles often to reduce the risk of injuries. Review the recommended pigs-per-needle guidelines with the herd veterinarian.

Safety first for you and the pigs
“Stress can reduce the immune system’s response and could result in loss of vaccine effectiveness,” said Dr. Galina. “Keep pigs calm and reduce other stress factors on the day of vaccination, such as multiple pen movements, excessive handling or transportation.”

Use proper technique to administer the vaccine in the correct area of the pig’s neck. Position the needle and syringe perpendicular to the neck.

If you accidentally inject yourself or another caregiver, thoroughly wash the wound with water, contact your doctor and report the incident to your manager and Zoetis representative.

Following protocol
Zoetis provides a full line of vaccines that help prevent disease. There also are helpful on-farm resources, such as posters that display proper handling, storing and administration techniques. Ask your local Zoetis representative how you can obtain these helpful visuals to ensure you’re providing the best disease prevention program for your pigs.

Original article July 1 by Morning Ag Clips.


July 7, 2015

As farmers flex social media muscles, food groups express fear

What happens when farmers and ranchers start using social media and new communication strategies to tell their respective sides of the food production story?

Apparently, they start to get under the skin of some food and environmental groups who are suggesting that those doggone food producers have apparently gone too far.

In a new report, Friends of the Earth and others are crying “foul” about attempts by the farm community to add their own perspective to the farm-to-fork conversation. It suggests that the thousands of independent farmers and ranchers - along with some key scientific experts - who are using these new media tools, are really acting as shills for big corporations like Monsanto and DuPont.

Their new report, “Spinning Food: How Food Industry Front Groups and Covert Communications are Shaping the Story of Food,” attempts to pit farm versus food interests - even in some areas where there might be more commonality than expressed in the report. Here are some of the key findings:

  • Big food and chemical companies spent hundreds of millions of dollars from 2009 to 2011 to manipulate the public conversation about our food.
  • 14 front groups -- often appearing in the media as independent sources -- spent $125 million during that time frame to push coordinated messages that serve industrial agriculture interests. These include groups like the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA), whose partners include Monsanto, DuPont, Dow and Syngenta.
  • Covert PR tactics these groups are using include efforts to disparage “organic moms,” the growth of “native advertising” disguised to look like real news, stealth engagement on social media and the use of third-party allies to foster an echo chamber for industry talking points.
  • Coordinated messages pushed by a range of seemingly independent spokespeople are making their way from PR firms to the pages of leading media outlets. The report details and attempts to debunk five of these key messages, including “organic food isn't worth the money” and “GMOs are needed to feed the world.

For decades, farmers and ranchers failed to gain traction in national media because they were being overblown by the likes of urbanite Michael Pollan writing in the powerful New York Times, the Environmental Working Group's well-ranked and highly searchable “deadly dozen” list and a host of supposedly scary topics ginned up by the Food Babe.

And then, a few years ago farmers and ranchers decided to stop getting mad about their lack of media influence. They learned to employ some of the same media strategies as their critics. Farm women started blogging, tweeting, and (gasp!) even inviting non-farmers out to their farms. Their husbands started having conversations on Facebook. And even scientists like Monsanto's Rob Fraley were unleashed to tweet and respond to critics with his own Twitter handle.

It's easy for the report's authors to make the case about “attempts to manipulate the conversation about food.” Big companies and organizations ARE spending millions of dollars to manipulate the public conversation about food - commonly known as advertising and public relations. These firms have been doing so for years, but the tools and tactics have changed. 

Unfortunately, the authors don't point out that some of these “message manipulators” come in a lot of different stripes. Instead, they try to suggest that some sources are considered trustworthy while others are not - and journalists should beware of the latter.

The truth is that some companies produce food with conventional crops. Some produce food with genetically modified crops. Some use only organic ingredients. Increasingly, food companies have a footprint in all three camps. Any capable journalist should be able to do his or her homework and find out who is promoting what.  

The debate and the tactics described in this report are not limited to Monsanto, the Food Babe or others who want to attract Internet searches and generate website page views. The growth of “native advertising” designed to look like news, is certainly not limited to the farm community or “industry funded” groups.

In fact, if the report's scorecard on social media influence is correct (on page 48 of the 62-page report), there's still little for the “foodie” movement to be concerned. It pegs monthly website visitors for the Environmental Working Group at 1.1 million with 456,500 Facebook likes and over 27,000 Twitter followers. The Union of Concerned Scientists has 580,000 web visitors, 90,000 Facebook likes and 26,400 Twitter followers.

Compare that to what the report says about “Industry funded groups” and you'll see that the Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food had only 220,000 monthly web visitors, 82,400 Facebook likes and 14,700 Twitter followers at the time the report was written. USFRA had only 10,000 web visitors, but compares more favorably with over 350,000 Facebook likes and 23,400 Twitter followers.  

The report's authors want journalists to be ever-vigilant about who might be “spinning” the news against the organic community, but they didn't always take care to check all of their own facts. For example, the report tries to paint a picture of USFRA as being beholden to Monsanto, DuPont and other corporate giants. But the group's chairwoman is a farmer who currently serves on the farmer-funded United Soybean Board. Fourteen members of the 17-member board are farmers and ranchers. About 70 percent of the organization's funding comes from farmers and ranchers, with roughly 30 percent comes from corporations.

The report goes on to criticize USFRA for spending at least $1.5 million to produce a feature-length documentary film, Farmland, “which was presented as a balanced exploration of the lives of farmers and ranchers - but whose message, critics point out, glorified industrialized farming operations.”

Apparently, the authors of the report failed to watch the documentary - which includes profiles of two young organic farmers growing crops on small operations - in addition to farmers using other types of production practices.

Original article July 1 by Agri-Pulse.


July 6, 2015

Cargill plans to exit U.S. pork business, selling to JBS

Global meat giant JBS, the parent of Pilgrim’s Pride Chicken, announced plans to buy Cargill’s U.S. pork business for $1.45 billion, subject to regulatory review and approval.

The deal includes a processing plant in Ottumwa, Iowa, and one in Beardstown, Ill. Last year the two plants processed a combined 9.3 million hogs. If the deal is approved JBS will own five live feed mills, including one in Arkansas, and four hog farms, two of those in Arkansas.

"This operation is in line with JBS' strategy to grow its portfolio of prepared and value-added products, expanding the company's customer base both in the domestic market and internationally," according to a press release issued by JBS. 

Cargill management said JBS' pork business is complimentary to its own which should make for a smooth transition when the deal is approved.

The combined JBS and Cargill pork production will likely give JBS a slight lead over Tyson Foods' 17% marketshare but would remain second to Smithfield's 26%, according to the U.S. Pork Board.

Original article July 1 by The City Wire.


July 3, 2015

Groups File Lawsuit To Vacate ‘WOTUS’ Rule

On the 239th anniversary of the Second Continental Congress declaring the fledgling United States should be free from an oppressive, oversized government, the National Pork Producers Council and 13 other organizations filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to vacate a new Clean Water Act (CWA) regulation that will bring under federal jurisdiction “a staggering range” of land and water and adversely affect numerous agricultural and business activities.

The final “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule was issued May 27, 2015, by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ostensibly to clarify the agencies’ authority under the CWA over various waters. Currently, that jurisdiction – based on several U.S. Supreme Court decisions – includes “navigable” waters and waters with a significant hydrologic connection to navigable waters. The WOTUS rule would broaden that to include, among other water bodies, upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams such as the kind farmers use for drainage and irrigation. It also would encompass lands adjacent to such waters.

In their suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas against EPA and the Corps of Engineers, the agricultural and business groups said the final rule “bears no connection” to the CWA and violates provisions of the U.S. Constitution. They also allege that in writing the rule the agencies misinterpreted the Supreme Court’s decisions on CWA jurisdiction and subverted the notice-and-comment process by failing to seek public comments on scientific reports used to write the regulation and on major revisions of the proposed rule, conducting an inadequate economic analysis and engaging in an advocacy campaign during the comment period. (Click here to read the complaint.)

Similar lawsuits have been filed by the attorneys general of 27 states.

“The final rule is vague and fails to let regulated parties know when their conduct violates the law,” said NPPC President Dr. Ron Prestage, a veterinarian and pork producer from Camden, S.C. “We’re asking the court to find the rule arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and not in accordance with law; and to find that it’s unlawful because it’s contrary to constitutional rights and powers, inconsistent with the agencies’ statutory authority under the CWA and was promulgated without following procedures required by law. The bottom line is we want the court to set aside the rule.

“We all want clean water,” Prestage said, “but this rule isn’t about clean water, it’s about EPA and the Corps taking over private property, growing the size of government and micromanaging hundreds of farming and business activities.”

NPPC is backing bills now making their way through Congress that would require EPA and the Corps of Engineers to withdraw the WOTUS rule and to work with affected parties, including farmers, on a new regulation.

Original release July 2 by National Pork Producers Council.


July 2, 2015

Schmidt files lawsuit asking court to overturn ‘Waters of the U.S.’ rule

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced today that he has joined eight other state attorneys general in a lawsuit asking a federal court to overturn new water regulations that could significantly extend the regulatory reach of the federal government onto Kansas private property.

The regulations, known generally as the “Waters of the U.S.” rule, would extend the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers’ regulatory reach into small waterways, ditches and ponds on Kansas farms, ranches and land developments. This new rule would have significant consequences for homeowners, farmers and other entities by forcing them to navigate a complex federal bureaucracy and obtain costly permits in order to perform everyday tasks such as digging ditches, building fences or spraying fertilizers.

“Congress never intended for the federal government to regulate ditches or farm ponds,” Schmidt said. “This regulation grossly exceeds the authority granted to federal agencies by the Clean Water Act – authority that rightfully belongs to the states and that is limited by private property rights protected by the Constitution.”

In the complaint filed today in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, the attorneys general of Kansas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin argue the final rule put forward by the EPA and Corps of Engineers violates the Clean Water Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and the U.S. Constitution, and usurps the states’ primary responsibility for the management, protection and care of intrastate waters and lands. 

The complaint asks a federal judge to declare the rule illegal and issue an injunction to prevent the agencies from enforcing it. It also asks the judge to order the agencies to draft a new rule that complies with the law and honors state authority.

A copy of the complaint is available at .

Original release June 30 by Kansas Attorney General’s Office


July 1, 2015

USDA has released its quarterly hogs and pigs report 

The Pork Checkoff hosted a media teleconference with industry-leading analysts to recap the report.

Listen to the podcast here.


June 30, 2015

Report shows pork industry continuing to recover from PED virus

An estimated 66.9 million hogs and pigs were being raised in the U.S. on June 1, up 9 percent from a year earlier and up slightly from March 1, USDA said today in a quarterly report, more indication that the U.S. pork industry has recovered from the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv).

The gastrointestinal virus first appeared in U.S. herds in April 2013. During the height of the outbreak last spring, cases were being confirmed on more than 300 farms a week. But in the week ended June 18, there were only 45 so-called “positive accessions,” according to the American Association of Swine Veterinarians.

John Nalivka, president of Sterling Marketing in Vale, Oregon, said the statistics on pigs per litter from today's report tell the story. In the March-through-May period, an average of 10.37 pig per litter were saved - a record for the quarter -- up from 9.78 in the same quarter a year earlier, USDA said in the report. Some 29.6 million piglets were born in the quarter, up 8 percent from 2013.

“Production efficiency is right back on track,” Nalivka said during a media conference call arranged by the Pork Checkoff to review the report. “It's like we took 2014 out of the data.”

Some other highlights from today's report:

--The June 1 breeding herd totaled 5.93 million head, up 1 percent from a year earlier, but down 1 percent from the previous quarter.

--The inventory of market hogs, at 61 million, was also up 9 percent from June 1, 2014.

--Producers intend to have 2.91 sows farrow during the June-through-August quarter, a 3 percent decline from the same period in 2014, but up 1 percent from 2013.

Original article June 29 by Agri-Pulse.


June 29, 2015

Fight over future of meat labeling centers on a few words

This congressional struggle over the future of country-of-origin labeling of meat hinges on the same issue it always has: What does it mean to be a product of the United States?

The House voted overwhelmingly to repeal the law in the wake of a final ruling by World Trade Organization against the labeling rules, but COOL supporters are pushing the Senate to convert the labeling law to voluntary for beef and pork and to preserve the law's requirement for labeling meat as a U.S.-origin product: The cattle and hogs must have been born, raised and slaughtered in the U.S.

Leo McDonnell, a North Dakota cattle producers who worked with lawmakers to craft the original COOL law, told the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday that the definition is essential to “preserve the integrity” of the U.S.-origin label.

Prior to the law, beef could be labeled as a U.S. product regardless of where it was raised, so so long as it was processed in the United States, said McDonnell, who is executive officer and director emeritus of the U.S.  Cattlemen's Association.  “I don't want to go back to the dark ages,” he said.

His group is up against a wall of opposition from meatpackers and other beef and pork industry groups as well as interests in other sectors who fear that the WTO will authorize Mexico and Canada to hit them with billions of dollars in retaliatory tariffs until the law is repealed.

The tariffs could double the price of U.S. wine in Canada, devastating a growing market for U.S. wine producers, the president of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, Jim Trezise, told the senators.  “It would basically unravel the whole wine market system… Our wines would be replaced by wines from other competing regions around the world,” he said.

The committee's chairman, Pat Roberts, made clear he would like to repeal the law but must find a compromise that can get enough Democratic support to get the 60 votes necessary to move a bill on the Senate floor. He said he wants to have a bill marked up after next week's July 4 recess and passed before August.

The committee's ranking Democrat, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, released a draft bill Wednesday that would preserve the existing definition of U.S.-origin beef or pork.

“The practicality is in order to move this quickly, as we need to do, we need to come to the middle. It's time to do that,” she told reporters. She did not rule out compromising on the definition. “We're certainly going to discuss everything.”

Roberts, R-Kan., said he was working on alternatives with the committee's Republican members.

As the hearing came to an end, Roberts displayed posters of meat labels that showed the COOL information in type so small that he suggested consumers probably ignore anyway.

Opponents of COOL say the Agriculture Department could craft a new country-of-origin labeling program. “Any bipartisan right-to-know policy would be fantastic but today the No. 1 goal is to prevent retaliation,” said Chris Cuddy, a senior vice president of Archer Daniels Midland Co.

Cuddy, who leads ADM's corn processing business, told the committee his company fears a repeat of duties that hammered sales of U.S. corn sweetener in Mexico from 1997 to 2001. “As unfortunate as that dispute was, the current situation involving COOL will have much more serious economic consequences if Congress doesn't act to prevent retaliation,” Cuddy said.

The COOL law's backers fear the USDA labeling program would not have the same strict definition for U.S. origin. If it's left up to USDA to write the definition, industry opponents of the current rule will “beat us to death to get rid of ‘born, raised and slaughtered',” McDonnell said.

The governments of Canada and Mexico both sent letters to the committee before the hearing emphatically insisting on repeal of the law. Mexico's letter said, “To be clear, repeal of the COOL measure for meat products is the only option that will resolve this dispute.”

The Canadian letter said that “approaches such as a legislated ‘voluntary' label or a generic label are not satisfactory outcomes for Canada and would force Canada to impose retaliatory tariffs, as early as late summer.”

Original artic le June 25 by Agri-Pulse.


June 25, 2015

Trade Promotion Authority Bill Goes To Obama

With Wednesday’s passage by the Senate of legislation granting the president authority to enter and finalize free trade agreements, the National Pork Producers Council called on U.S. trade negotiators to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an Asia-Pacific regional trade deal.

Senate lawmakers voted 60-38 to approve Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which defines objectives and priorities for trade agreements the United States negotiates and establishes consultation and notification requirements for the president to follow throughout the negotiation process. Once trade negotiators finalize a deal, Congress gets to review it and vote – without amendments – yes or no on it. Congress has granted TPA to every president since 1974, with the most recent law being approved in August 2002 and expiring June 30, 2007.

The House approved TPA last Thursday by a 218-208 vote.

“We applaud Congress for approving TPA, which is imperative for finalizing free trade agreements that boost U.S. exports and create U.S. jobs,” said NPPC President Dr. Ron Prestage, a veterinarian and pork producer from Camden, S.C. “Now we need U.S. trade negotiators to get the best deal possible from the other TPP countries and to finalize one of the most significant regional trade agreements ever.”

The TPP talks among the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries would generate 10,000 U.S. jobs tied to pork exports, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes. The U.S. pork industry would see exponential growth in exports to the TPP countries.

“U.S. trade negotiators now have the leverage they need to close the TPP negotiations,” Prestage said. “The U.S. pork industry needs TPP to continue growing our exports.”

Since 1989 – the year the United States began using bilateral and regional trade agreements to open foreign markets – U.S. pork exports have increased 1,550 percent in value and 1,268 percent in volume. The United States shipped more than $6.6 billion of pork to foreign destinations in 2014. The U.S. pork industry ships more pork to the 20 nations with which the United States has Free Trade Agreements than to the rest of the world combined.

Original release June 24 by National Pork Producers Council.


June 25, 2015

KPA hires new Director of Communications

The Kansas Pork Association is pleased to announce the recent appointment of Kim Hanke as Director of Communications. Hanke will be responsible for producing the association’s publications and distributing information about the organization to members and the general public. She will also assist in coordinating KPA activities and programs.

Hanke previously worked for Valley Vet Supply, Marysville, as Catalog Marketing Analyst, and brings over 10 years of experience in freelance writing. She attended McPherson College, Kan., where she earned a bachelor’s degree in communications.

“I am excited for this opportunity with the KPA,” Hanke says. “I look forward to learning more about the industry and building relationships with the pork community.”


June 24, 2015

KPA Sponsors 2015 Blood Drives

Kansas pork farmers continue to give back by teaming up with the American Red Cross to thank blood donors across the state. Through the Kansas Pork Association’s “Be Inspired to Make a Difference” program, pulled pork sandwiches are provided for donors and volunteers.

"Our farmers appreciate the opportunity to say thank you to those who are doing such a selfless thing to help others," says Jodi Oleen, KPA Director of Consumer Outreach.

In 2014, over 800 donors and volunteers were served sandwiches and 795 pints of blood were collected.

This year, the KPA will sponsor drives in five locations: Great Bend, El Dorado, Bern, Manhattan and Independence.

2015 DATE


July 20

Great Bend

July 29

El Dorado

Aug. 19


Sept. 22


Oct. 8


In addition to the pork, KPA provides goodies for donors, including recipes, pig head stress balls and prizes for drawings.

To donate blood, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit to make an appointment. Local volunteers are also needed to help hand out food. To volunteer, contact Jodi Oleen at 785-776-0442 or  


June 23, 2015

Reserve model barns

The model pig barns are a great interactive tool to help people understand where their food comes from.

Throughout the year they are everywhere from community meetings to classrooms and county ag days. Reserve them for your event today!

Contact Jodi Oleen at for more information.


June 22, 2015

Retaliation Imminent in COOL Case

Time is running out to avoid retaliation by Canada and Mexico in Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) disputes. The U.S. objected to Canada's request for nearly $2.5 billion in retaliatory tariffs stemming from the recent World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling on COOL for meat. During a June 17 meeting of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), the U.S. referred the issue to arbitration, which delays —by at least another 60 days—Canada and Mexico's ability to seek sanctions for retaliatory trade measures.

NPPC and The Global Business Dialogue held a panel discussion on the implications of trade retaliation. NPPC outside trade counsel David Bond joined Kenneth Smith Ramos, with the Embassy of Mexico; John Masswohl, with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association; Ken Monahan with the National Association of Manufacturers and Randy Russell, former chief of staff to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to discuss the consequences if the Senate does not act to repeal the meat labeling provisions of COOL.

“If the Senate thinks that there's a middle path on this, that's a very risky strategy to move forward.  That timeline that was outlined is what we are expecting.  We're expecting that, before the end of this summer, we will be authorized to put tariffs on whatever number the WTO authorizes,” Masswohl said. 

According to Masswohl, Canada specifically plans to put retaliatory tariffs on products that are derived from districts of Congressional lawmakers that support COOL, including beef, pork, apples, rice, corn, maple syrup, wine, jewelry, wooden furniture and mattresses. Mexico is in the process of requesting from the WTO the authority to place up to $713 million per year in retaliatory tariffs. The House voted overwhelmingly last week to repeal COOL requirements. NPPC and the other members of the COOL Reform Coalition, a coalition which represents U.S. workers and organizations with an interest in North American trade, are urging the Senate to likewise repeal COOL in order to protect U.S. workers and U.S. exports from the ravages of trade retaliation.

Original article June 19 by National Pork Producers Council.


June 19, 2015

House Again Passes Trade Promotion Authority

With today’s passage by the House of legislation granting the president authority to enter and finalize free trade agreements, the National Pork Producers Council called on the Senate to take up and pass the measure.

House lawmakers voted 218-208 to approve Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which defines objectives and priorities for trade agreements the United States negotiates and establishes consultation and notification requirements for the president to follow throughout the negotiation process. Once trade negotiators finalize a deal, Congress gets to review it and vote – without amendments – yes or no on it. Congress has granted TPA to every president since 1974, with the most recent law being approved in August 2002 and expiring June 30, 2007.

It was the second time in a week that the House passed TPA. The lower chamber last Friday voted 219-211 to approve TPA as part of a package of trade measures, but it defeated a Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) bill, thus preventing TPA from moving forward. This time, TPA and TAA were considered as stand-alone bills. While the Senate passed a TPA-TAA package May 23, it, too, now must take up separate bills.

“We applaud the House for approving TPA, which is imperative for finalizing free trade agreements that boost U.S. exports and create U.S. jobs,” said NPPC President Dr. Ron Prestage, a veterinarian and pork producer from Camden, S.C. “Now we need the Senate to approve it, so that U.S. trade negotiators can get the best trade deals possible from other countries.

“Of course, our immediate objective is to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiation, which would be the most significant regional trade agreements ever.”

A good TPP agreement, which includes the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries, would result in exponential growth in U.S. pork exports and generate 10,000 U.S. jobs tied to those exports, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes.

“U.S. trade negotiators now have the leverage they need to close the TPP negotiations,” Prestage said. “The U.S. pork industry needs TPP to continue growing our exports.”

Since 1989 – the year the United States began using bilateral and regional trade agreements to open foreign markets – U.S. pork exports have increased 1,550 percent in value and 1,268 percent in volume. The United States shipped more than $6.6 billion of pork to foreign destinations in 2014. The U.S. pork industry ships more pork to the 20 nations with which the United States has Free Trade Agreements than to the rest of the world combined.

Original release on June 18 by  National Pork Producers Council. 


June 18, 2015

Rates of Skin Cancer Increasing

KDHE Works to Increase Sunscreen Use

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that melanoma rates doubled between 1982 and 2011 in the U.S. In Kansas, the malignant melanoma rates increased significantly during the past decade from 16.3 cases per 100,000 people in 2000 to 23.4 cases per 100,000 people in 2011. More than 700 cases of malignant melanoma were diagnosed among Kansans in 2011.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. and melanoma is the most deadly type of skin cancer. More than 90 percent of melanoma skin cancers are due to skin cell damage from ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) recommends taking steps to protect yourself against UV exposure.

  • Use sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher with both UVA and UVB protection.
  • Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going in the sun and then once every two hours when you are outdoors or after swimming, sweating or toweling off.
  • Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade your face, head, ears and neck.
  • Wear sunglasses.
  • Avoid indoor tanning.

“Protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunscreen,” said Secretary Susan Mosier, MD, MBA. “Find shade outside, especially in the middle of the day when the sun is most intense, and wear a hat or other clothing that covers your skin.”

Reducing sunburns is a priority of the Kansas Cancer Prevention and Control Plan (2012-2016). “Ultraviolet rays, whether directly from the sun or from a tanning bed, cause DNA damage which greatly increases cancer risk,” said Dr. Gary Doolittle, medical oncologist and Chair of the Kansas Cancer Partnership.

Original article June 17 by KDHE. 


June 17, 2015

Ivy League hogs transfer to Long Island

Hogs, or pigs, are smart, right? So, it's natural that heritage hogs might be able to teach Penn Vet researchers a few things at the Ivy League school's New Bolton Swine Teaching and Research Center.

And the Tamworth heritage breed is doing just that. The reddish-brown hogs mingle with pink and spotted companions as part of a third-year ongoing research project designed to improve sow housing and preserve special breeds.

Dr. Thomas Parsons is leading a team behavioral research project to learn whether heritage breeds such as Tamworths and Gloucestershire Old Spots possess traits that work well in the "Penn gestation" model of loose, crate-free housing. They're also exploring ways to expand heritage breeds, favored by chefs, restaurants and farmers' markets for their flavorful qualities – successfully so.

The Rhode Island/Long Island connection 
Enter Tom Geppel who raises Icelandic sheep and chickens on his 8 Hands Farmat Cutchogue, N.Y. When Geppel decided to add pigs to his livestock, he heard about Swiss Village Farm at Newport, R.I., through Andy Rice, his sheep shearer.

The Swiss Village Farm Foundation, which aids in the conservation and preservation of heritage breeds, led him to Penn's Parsons. The SWF Foundation is funding the Penn Vet project via a three-year, $240,000 grant.

Geppel was looking for a heritage breed with flavor, yet hardy enough to live outdoors year-round. Tamworths proved to "bring home the bacon". He raises them organically on pasture. The English breed is known for its large pork belly – best for producing bacon.

Geppel first bought 25 young boars from the project last fall, then came back for 13 more. "It's a perfect relationship: Tom and Ines (Rodriguez, the staff veterinarian overseeing care of the heritage pigs) can continue doing their research and have an outlet for their piglets. I view them as my producer."

"The heritage breeds have retained the flavor of the old-style meat, the fat cover, the rich quality," says this producer, who runs the sustainable farm on the North Fork of Long Island with his wife and two children.

Once processed and cryovac-packaged, Geppel sells the meat in his on-farm market and to North Fork Table and Inn, a Long Island farm-to-table restaurant. The heritage breed and Geppel's farm are described on the menu.

A looser way to live 
Mother sows bred by commercial farms have been selected over the last 40 years to live in individual gestation stalls that restrict their ability to interact with their peers. Pressure on the pork industry is growing to move the pigs out of stalls into group pens, like the model created at Penn Vet.

Mother sows bred to live in stalls today may not be the best to live in loose housing, suggests Parsons. They may have lost some of the social graces required to be a good pen-mate. So Penn Vet researchers are studying rare or heritage breeds. "They haven't been under the same selective pressures, and may be a repository of some of the behavioral traits needed to succeed in group housing," he adds. 

At this point in the study, about 10% of the Swine Center's 250 breeding sows are heritage breeds. Drs. Kristina Horback, Seth Dunipace, and Rodriguez have been working with young Tamworth females, studying their behavior alongside Landrace and Yorkshires.

"We're trying to understand the world through the pigs' eyes," notes Parsons. The research starts when they are just weeks old, chronicling their behavior when handled by a human, for example, or what they do when placed into a new environment, like a different enclosure.

They're also tracking how the Tamworths socially integrate into the larger group, and how they get along with each other. All the pigs have learned to live in Penn Vet's loose housing model, featuring an automatic feeder triggered by a radio frequency identification tag that customizes each sow's intake.

Parsons and his team are also investigating how motivated this breed is to eat. Common commercial breeds are very focused on eating. That's why they can reach 300 pounds in six months.

"The commercial breeds are eating machines," he adds. "Tamworths are much more laid back about it." In fact, Horback had to sweeten the feed in the bowls with applesauce to get them interested.

A new breed?
At this time, the Swine Center keeps the females and sells the males. As part of the effort to preserve the breeds, Penn Vet is preparing to sell the genetic stock and semen to breeders. "We want to try to keep the lines alive," explains Rodriguez. "We're looking for an opportunity."

Some of Penn Vet's Tamworth females were bred for the first time in January. Their piglets are due to be born in June.

Other Tamworths will be crossed with another rare breed, the Gloucestershire Old Spot. The Old Spots were brought into the Penn Vet program in December 2013.

At this point, just the two breeds – Tamworths and Old Spots – are in the research project. But Parsons and his team would like to expand to other breeds, particularly the Large Black.

"If the right opportunity presented itself, we would be very interested in bringing another breed," says Parsons. "It's a matter of funding and support."

What will the cross between the Old Spots and the Tamworths produce? We will have to wait and see. As for the name,

Original article on June 16 by Farm Progress.

June 16, 2015

Vaught: Pork exports surged in April

Slaughter total in early June enabled a better read on current hog supplies. The USDA estimated the result for first week of June at 2.120 million head, which put the total for the three weeks surrounding Memorial Day at 6.116 million head. This marked an 8.5 percent annual increase.

When combined with the surprisingly large surge in mid-spring pig weights, the numbers imply the supply of market-ready animals has grown relative to mid-2014 levels. Indeed, late events suggest the industry expects summer totals to exceed the 9 percent jump indicated on the March USDA Hogs & Pigs report.

We continue thinking comparatively high retail prices are stifling a potential resurgence in domestic pork demand, but international customers have responded very well to lower U.S. pork prices. April pork exports jumped to 483.4 million pounds, which represents monthly and annual increases of 9.8 percent and 10.9 percent, respectively.

Recent hog and pork losses have essentially matched the historical tendency for early-June weakness. However, summer futures are trading at discounts to the latest quotes for the CME Lean Hog Index (which they cash settle against), which apparently scorns the market’s pattern of surging to annual highs in late June and/or early July.

We are more optimistic.

Original article on June 15 by Pork Network.

June 15, 2015

Livestock Producers Receive Waiver on Hours of Service Rule

America’s hog, cattle and poultry farmers have been granted a two-year waiver from the U.S. Department of Transportation hours-of-service rule for certain drivers.

The rule, issued in mid-2013 by DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), requires truck drivers to take a 30-minute rest break for every 8 hours of service. It would have prohibited drivers hauling livestock and poultry from caring for animals during the rest period.

The National Pork Producers Council, on behalf of other livestock, poultry and food organizations, in 2013 petitioned the FMCSA for a waiver and exemption from complying with the regulation. The groups this spring asked the FMCSA to renew the waiver and to extend it for the two-year maximum allowable under federal law.

In petitioning the agency, the livestock organizations noted that the rule would cause livestock producers and their drivers irreparable harm, place the health and welfare of the livestock in their care at risk and provide no apparent increased benefit to public safety – and likely decrease public safety – while forcing the livestock industry and its drivers to choose between the humane handling of animals or complying with the rule.

The groups also pointed out that the livestock and poultry industries have programs – developed and offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture – that educate drivers on transportation safety and animal welfare. The pork industry, for example, has the Transport Quality Assurance program.

“This decision will help ensure the continued humane treatment and welfare of livestock while traveling on the nation’s highways,” said NPPC president Dr. Ron Prestage, a veterinarian and pork producer from Camden, S.C. “The waiver will ensure that during hot summer months livestock won’t be sitting in the sun for extended periods, with drivers unable to care for them because they’re required to take a 30-minute break.”

Official notice of the decision is set to be published in the June 11 Federal Register, and the waiver will become effective June 12.

“America’s livestock and poultry farmers are pleased that the FMCSA recognized that its rule would not be practicable for drivers who transport hogs, cattle and poultry,” Prestage said. “We’re grateful for FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro’s recognition of the ongoing commitment of America’s pork, livestock and poultry producers to animal welfare and highway safety.”

Original article on June 10 by Feedstuffs.

June 12, 2015

House Votes To Repeal ‘COOL,’ Senate Urged To Follow

The National Pork Producers Council is urging the Senate to take up legislation to repeal country of origin labeling requirements for beef, pork and poultry, following today’s House vote to rescind the provisions.

The U.S. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law requires meat to be labeled with the country where the animal from which it was derived was born, raised and harvested. (It also applies to fish, shellfish, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables and certain nuts.)

The World Trade Organization (WTO) May 18 rejected an appeal by the United States of the international trade body’s October 2014 ruling that the COOL provisions on beef and pork discriminate against Canadian and Mexican animals, which they send to the United States to be fed out and processed. The WTO decision allows Canada and Mexico to place retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods going into their countries.

“We’re pleased that the House voted to repeal the meat labeling requirements of COOL,” said NPPC President Dr. Ron Prestage, a veterinarian and pork producer from Camden, S.C. “We need the Senate to do the same, and we need that to happen now; we must avoid trade retaliation from our No. 1 and No. 3 export markets.”

Last week, Canada announced it will ask the WTO to authorize about $3 billion (Canadian dollars, or $2.4 billion U.S. dollars) a year in retaliatory tariffs against U.S. imports, and Mexico will seek $653 million in retaliation. .

While it remains to be seen on which U.S. products Canada and Mexico place tariffs, a preliminary Canadian retaliation list included fresh pork and beef, bakery goods, rice, apples, wine, maple syrup and furniture.

“We can’t afford to have our products restricted, through tariffs, to two of our most important markets,” said Prestage, who pointed out that last year the U.S. pork industry exported almost $6.7 billion of pork, including about $2.5 billion just to Canada and Mexico. “If the Senate fails to act soon and tariffs are imposed, I have no doubt that almost every state in the nation will feel the economic pain.”

The House approved by a vote of 300-131 H.R. 2393, sponsored by House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, to amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to repeal the meat labeling provisions.

Original release on June 10 by National Pork Producers Council.


June 11, 2015

K-State Survey Indicates Lower Farmland Prices

Agricultural lenders are reporting decreased farmland values and increases in non-performing farm loans. According to the results of an Agricultural Lender Survey conducted by the Kansas State University Department of Agricultural Economics in March, this is a continuation of a trend witnessed in the end-of-year survey conducted in 2014.

“For the first time since we began this survey, the majority of respondents thought land values declined,” said Allen Featherstone, professor and department head of the K-State Department of Agricultural Economics. Additionally, he mentioned that the long-term expectation also pointed to declines in land values.

Researchers pointed to uncertainty in the markets regarding interest rates and competition amongst the lenders as some of the long-term factors in the results, which still showed a strong credit market for producers. Lenders cited lower commodity prices, rising operating costs and the softening of cash rents. Combining these with a decrease in farmland prices created concern in the long-term financial health of the farming sector.

However, in reference to the increase in non-performing loans, Featherstone said he believes the market is just cycling back to a normal state. The study indicated a stronger market of loan availability in the agricultural market, which would benefit producers in the future. Research shows that bankers are still interested in agricultural investments, but experts say the farmers are going to have to show a strong investment plan.

“Producers are going to encounter cautious lenders,” Featherstone said. “Farmers will have to be well-prepared and document plans going forward to continue to access credit at good rates.”

The Agricultural Lender Survey included 39 lending institution responses. Lenders in the survey considered five key areas: farm loan interest rates, spread over cost of funds, farm loan volumes, non-performing loan volumes and agricultural land values.

Various K-State Department of Agricultural Economics researchers developed and conducted the survey, including Brady Brewer, recent doctoral graduate; Brian Briggeman, associate professor and director of the Arthur Capper Cooperative Center; Allen Featherstone; and Christine Wilson, professor.

For more information about the outlook for agricultural credit conditions and commentary on areas of concern within agriculture, go to the K-State Agricultural Lender Survey.

Original release on June 4 by K-State Research and Extension.

June 10, 2015

New Veterinary Feed Directive Rule Emphasizes the VCPR

Over the next year, many livestock producers will need to become more familiar with their veterinarians. Or, if they don’t have a veterinarian, find one. This week the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) announced its highly anticipated Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) rule, which places considerable emphasis on the Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR).

The VFD rule will end over-the-counter (OTC) sales of medically important antimicrobial drugs intended for use in feed or water, placing their use under the supervision of a veterinarian within the context of a valid VCPR.

The FDA previously issued the proposed VFD rule in 2013, and at the same time published Guidance for Industry 213, which calls on drug manufacturers to voluntarily stop labeling medically important antimicrobials for performance use such as growth promotion. All of the affected makers of these drugs have committed in writing to comply with the guidance. The VFD rule and Guidance 213 serve as the cornerstones of FDA’s strategy to promote the judicious use of antimicrobials in food-producing animals.

Simply put, Guidance 213 puts an end to performance-enhancement uses of most feed-grade antimicrobials. Some of the same products however, are labeled for prevention or control of disease, and the VFD rule places those applications under the control of a licensed veterinarian.

For this purpose, the VCPR does not mean the veterinarian simply is acquainted with the client and the client’s animals. The rule specifies that a veterinarian issuing a VFD “operate in compliance with appropriate State defined veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) requirements or federally defined VCPR requirements where no applicable and appropriate State VCPR requirements exist.” At the basic level, a valid VCPR means the veterinarian must:

Engage with the client to assume responsibility for making clinical judgments about patient health.

Have sufficient knowledge of the patient by virtue of patient examination and/or visits to the facility where patient is managed.

Provide for any necessary follow-up evaluation or care.

The final rule specifies that copies of the VFD and records of the receipt and distribution of VFD feed must be kept for a period of two years. This was a change from the proposed rule, which would have required records to be kept for one year. Veterinarians will issue three copies of the VFD: One for their own records, one for their client, and one to the client's VFD feed distributor. The VFD includes information about the number and species of animals to receive feed containing one or more of the VFD drugs. FDA anticipates that about half of the food-animal industry will use electronic VFD generation and recordkeeping over the next three years.

The rule becomes effective 120 days after it is published in the Federal Register, or October 1, 2015. FDA intends to use a phased enforcement strategy for implementation of the final rule as OTC drugs become VFD drugs. First, the agency plans to provide education and training for stakeholders such as veterinarians, producers, feed mills and other distributors. Over time, the FDA plans to engage in risk-based general surveillance, inspections and enforcement, and the rule spells out specific regulations for drug companies, veterinarians, distributors such as feed mills, and producers.

Labels for VFD drugs will include a cautionary statement saying “Federal law restricts medicated feed containing this veterinary feed directive (VFD) drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian.” The veterinarian cannot provide clients with VFD drugs without filing the VFD documents.  Producers can feed the VFD drugs to animals only after receiving a lawful VFD issued by a licensed veterinarian. The client is obligated to use the VFD feed as indicated on the VFD and as specified on the product’s label. Also, the VFD feed cannot be fed to the animals after the expiration date of the VFD.

The final VFD rule is available online from the FDA/CVM.

Original article June 5 by PorkNetwork.

June 9, 2015

US Could be Hit with about 3 Billion in Retaliation in COOL Dispute

Canada and Mexico are seeking the go-ahead from the World Trade Organization to impose just over $3 billion in tariffs against U.S. exports in retaliation for losses they claim to have suffered because of U.S. country-of-origin labeling (COOL) requirements.

In a joint release, the governments said their request for authorization to retaliate was filed recently with the WTO and will be considered by the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body on June 17. Canada is seeking retaliatory tariffs totaling about CA$3 billion (about $2.4 billion U.S. dollars) and Mexico will seek authorization for $653 million in sanctions, bringing the total to about $3.053 billion in damages.

The WTO on May 18 ruled for the fourth time against U.S. COOL rules that require meat to be labeled with where the meat-producing animal was born, raised and slaughtered. The ruling ratified complaints filed by Canada and Mexico that the rules violate international trade obligations and discriminated against livestock from the two U.S. neighbors.

“The WTO has ruled that the United States is out of options and out of time,” Canada's agriculture minister, Gerry Ritz, said in a release. “The only way for the United States to avoid billions in immediate retaliation is to repeal COOL.” Ritz in October said that the retaliatory measures would target a wide variety of U.S. products, from “California wine to Minnesota mattresses.”

Canada has previously announced a list of 38 products that could be facing tariffs, but Ritz said the list was “a living document” and subject to change. “We can add and subtract to it as is required,” he said. The Mexican government hasn't published similar list, but has indicated it would be similar to a retaliatory list used in a 2009 trucking dispute with the United States.

Today's joint release from Canada and Mexico noted that the recent WTO decision was final and without the possibility of further appeal.

“We continue to call on the United States to repeal COOL, cease this harmful policy and restore our integrated North American supply chain to the benefit of businesses and workers on both sides of the border,” Ed Fast, Canada's minister of international trade, said in the release.

Ritz said he expects to receive authorization from the WTO to retaliate by late this summer and he said retaliation would be put in place as soon as it is allowed. In the meantime, Ritz was in Washington this week to encourage lawmakers and other American allies in the fight against COOL to push for clean repeal of the provisions. He said he and other Canadian stakeholders are pushing for repeal because retaliation “is never a road anyone wants to travel.” Ritz said talks about a “watered down” version of COOL will not suffice, and Canada will only accept full repeal.

“We're taking a hard line,” Ritz said. “They can massage, they can talk voluntary, they can do whatever they like after they repeal the COOL initiative.”

Support for repeal appears to be ramping up in the U.S. Last month, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) changed its position on the issue and called for full repeal. In a release, Bob Stallman, AFBF president, said “it is now clear that we are far better off with no mandatory labeling” and that repeal would end threats of retaliation. AFBF, the nation's largest farm organization, is far from alone with its calls for repeal. Numerous organizations inside and outside of agriculture have joined the COOL Reform Coalition, which is lobbying Congress to repeal the law.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, moved quickly after the WTO ruling in May, producing a bill that would repeal country of origin labeling regulations for beef, chicken, and pork. The measure is on the House floor schedule for the week of June 8. The bill does not have the support of Conaway's ranking member on the committee, Collin Peterson, D-Minn. In a call with reporters Thursday afternoon, Ritz said Peterson should realize that he's “had his day” with COOL.

“Well, I think Mr. Peterson is locked into the turn of the century,” Ritz said, referring to Peterson's efforts to include COOL language in the 2002 and 2008 farm bills. “Unfortunately, as the author of the bill, he's got a vested interest in seeing it move forward. We're here to say that the WTO rules body has ruled against his baby from day one.”

Ritz said he met this week with many key American lawmakers including Senate Agriculture Committee chair and Kansas Republican Pat Roberts. He said he was “buoyed by the information that we received this time around” and that many lawmakers that were “on the fence” on the issue appeared to be concerned with the prospect of stiff retaliation. He did note that several lawmakers - namely Peterson and his Senate Agriculture Committee counterpart, Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. - are still supportive of COOL, but “they're not going to win in the long run.”

Original article June 4 by Agri-Pulse.


June 8, 2015

NPPC To ‘Key Vote’ House TPA Vote

The National Pork Producers Council today announced its intention to score the vote on Trade Promotion Authority in the U.S. House of Representatives as a “key vote.”

Periodically, NPPC scores members of Congress on their votes on issues and legislation that are of paramount importance to the livelihoods of America’s pork producers. The scores then are made public so voters have the information when determining the candidate of their choice in the next election.

TPA defines U.S. negotiating objectives and priorities for trade agreements and establishes consultation and notification requirements for the president to follow throughout the negotiation process. Once trade negotiators finalize a deal, Congress gets to review it and vote yes or no – without amendments – on it. Congress has granted TPA to every president since 1974, with the most recent law being approved in August 2002 and expiring June 30, 2007.

The key reason TPA is needed, said NPPC President Ron Prestage, is for concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations among the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries.

According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, the TPP deal would be the most significant commercial opportunity ever for U.S. pork producers, generating more than 10,000 pork industry jobs.

“U.S. trade negotiators will have the final leverage they need to close the TPP negotiations when Congress passes TPA,” said Prestage. “It will allow nations to cut to their bottom line negotiating position in TPP.”

Since 1989 – the year the United States began using bilateral and regional trade agreements to open foreign markets – pork exports have increased 1,550 percent in value and 1,268 percent in volume. The United States shipped more than $6.6 billion of pork to international destinations in 2014. The U.S. pork industry exports more pork to the 20 countries with which the United States has free trade agreements than to the rest of the nations combined.

Prestage said that “each and every one of the free trade agreements that got us that tremendous growth in exports were made possible by the enactment of Trade Promotion Authority bills. That is why NPPC and virtually every other agricultural organization in the United States are in favor of Congress expeditiously moving TPA legislation.”

Failure to pass TPA, noted Prestage, would send a signal to the world that the United States is turning its back on the Asia-Pacific region – the fastest growing area in the world – and allowing other countries to write the rules for international trade.

“The U.S. pork industry, U.S. agriculture, indeed the entire U.S. economy needs TPA, and we need it soon,” said Prestage. “And if House lawmakers vote against TPA, we’ll hold them accountable.”

Original release June 3 by National Pork Producers Council.

June 4, 2015

U.S. Pig Farmers Intensify Efforts on Antibiotic Stewardship

Through its continued commitment to build consumer trust in U.S. pork, the National Pork Board announced a new antibiotic stewardship plan. The most notable change will be updating its industry-leading Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA Plus®) farmer certification program and increasing investments in research and education by more than $1 million in 2016 alone. These efforts will promote sustainable farming practices focused on responsible antibiotic use that will protect the health and well-being of people, pigs and the planet.

“Today’s consumers are focused on their food and the role antibiotics play in meat production,” said National Pork Board CEO Chris Hodges. “By the end of 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will implement a new policy aimed at on-farm antibiotic use in food-animal production. The goal is to eliminate on-farm use of medically important — to human illness — antibiotics for growth promotion and to bring therapeutic use to treat, control or prevent specific disease under veterinary oversight. U.S. pig farmers will adapt to this change because of their ongoing commitment to responsible antibiotic use at the farm level to produce safe, wholesome pork in a socially responsible way.”

According to Hodges, collaboration will continue to play a pivotal role in moving forward in antibiotic stewardship. Aside from long-standing cooperation between the National Pork Board, the National Pork Producers Council and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, he pointed to the recent engagement with the White House on this issue. The Executive Office of the President recently highlighted the National Pork Board as one the nation’s leading agricultural organizations managing research efforts in antibiotics and resistance. Hodges said that the organization is working with the White House on obtaining additional funding for research to add to the more than $5.3 million in Checkoff-funded research that’s been conducted on antimicrobial resistance and alternatives since 2000.

”Producers need antibiotics to treat sick pigs or prevent illness. It is unethical to withhold treatment,” said Jennifer Koeman, director of producer and public health for the National Pork Board. “Over the years, pig farmers have done a great job of working with their veterinarians on using animal health tools such as antibiotics.

Koeman added that the new rules coming from the Food and Drug Administration’s 209, 213 and veterinary feed directive (VFD) in December 2016, will change the requirements needed to use certain antibiotics and will more directly involve veterinary oversight. Under the new FDA rules, producers will need a VFD to gain access to the affected feed-based antibiotics and a prescription for water-based antibiotics. Although a change for the industry, Koeman noted, it also provides a great opportunity for farmers to work with their veterinarians to revisit all herd health practices with the goal of decreasing disease, enhancing performance and producing a safe, wholesome product for the global market.

“We realize that producers will face a substantial change in how they use antibiotics with the impending policy rule changes, but they can feel good in knowing that they are already doing much of what they need to do to be successful,” Koeman said. “If farmers continue to work with their veterinarians, talk with their feed suppliers, diligently keep records associated with VFDs and prescription antibiotic use and retain current PQA Plus® certification, they will be well prepared to be in full compliance.”

The Pork Checkoff’s PQA Plus certification program continues to provide a firm foundation for on-farm antibiotic use, together with its animal well-being and food safety components. According to the National Pork Board’s latest statistics, more than 60,000 producers have completed the PQA Plus on-farm education and certification program. All of the major packers require producers to participate in the program before they will purchase their market hogs. The 2016 revision of the PQA Plus program also will emphasize antibiotic stewardship and stress the importance of the veterinarian-client-patient relationship in deciding when to use antibiotics.

“Pork producers are innovative and accustomed to making changes to their operations, adapting and moving ahead,” said Brad Greenway, a pork producer from Mitchell, South Dakota, and National Pork Board’s immediate past vice president. “We realize that growth promotion use of medically important antibiotics will go away and there will be changes in both feed and water medication for farms of all sizes. However, our industry is well positioned to move forward.”

To help producers fully prepare for the changes to come, the National Pork Board is asking them all to strengthen their relationships now with their swine veterinarians. Meanwhile, Pork Checkoff staff will focus on research, education and collaboration on antibiotic issues.

"Just yesterday, Dr. Paul Sundberg, our vice president of science and technology, along with Dr. Koeman, attended the Antibiotics Stewardship Forum at the White House in Washington, D.C.,” Greenway said. “It’s participating in this kind of opportunity on behalf of America’s pork producers that informs government officials and others of the U.S. pork industry’s long-standing commitment to the responsible antibiotic use for the protection of animal health and well-being, as well as for public health.”

Besides plans to invest additional funds in antibiotic-related research in 2016, the National Pork Board will identify specific risk assessments to better understand the relationship between antimicrobial use in pork production and bacterial resistance. The Pork Checkoff also is working on creating a blue-ribbon panel of experts to specifically focus on antibiotic use and resistance. All of these initiatives will lead to additional educational materials that focus on antibiotics for producers, academia and the swine veterinarian community.

“The pork industry always has been proactive, and pork producers have a long history of using antibiotics properly,” Greenway said. “Still, there’s always room for improvement. All producers need to strive to keep getting better — something we are very familiar with doing.”

Original release on June 3 by National Pork Board.


June 3, 2015

Expansion Expected to Drive 2016 Pork Production Higher

Expansion of U.S. breeding inventories in 2015, largely in response to extraordinary PEDv-driven producer returns in 2014, are expected to result in larger 2016 pork supplies and lower hog prices. On the other hand, greater pork supplies will likely pressure pork product prices lower, which, in turn, is expected to benefit domestic consumers and to bulk-up U.S. pork export volumes.

Industry expansion should lift 2016 farrowings modestly above levels in 2015. New technologies, genetic improvements and better herd management are expected to raise 2016 litter rates closer to historical trends. The resulting higher pig crops, along with average dressed weights roughly the same as this year, should lead to about 1 percent more pork production in 2016 or 24.7 billion pounds versus 24.4 billion pounds this year.

Larger hog supplies are expected to result in lower hog prices. Average prices of first-quarter live equivalent 51-52 percent lean hogs are expected to be $45-$49 per cwt, about 3 percent below prices in the first quarter of 2015. For 2016, hog prices are expected to average between $44-$48 per cwt, about 5.4 percent below prices this year.

Larger pork supplies next year and the lower prices that accompany them are expected to add impetus to U.S. pork exports. While the appreciated U.S. dollar will likely continue to function as a tax on exported U.S. goods, lower pork prices may offset some of the drag that the expensive U.S. dollar creates. Exports in 2016 are expected to be 5.125 billion pounds, 5.3 percent greater than the forecast for this year. This export quantity implies that 20.7 percent of U.S. commercial pork production is exported. Larger domestic pork supplies are expected to reduce U.S. import demand next year. In 2016, U.S. pork imports will likely total just over 1 billion pounds, 13.4 percent below imports this year.

After accounting for production, trade and stocks, 2016 per capita pork disappearance—the per person quantity of pork available in domestic markets—is expected to be slightly below per capita pork quantities this year: 49.5 pounds in 2016 compared with 50 pounds this year. Consumers will likely pay a little less for pork at retail in 2016: about $3.70 per pound compared with $3.87 per pound in 2015, a decline of nearly 4 percent. Lower per capita availability, accompanied by lower retail prices, implies that pork demand next year will range from somewhat lower to stable.

Original article May 26 by PorkNetwork.


June 2, 2015

2015 AgChat Conference Announced, Call for Sessions

As a pioneer in grassroots agvocacy, the AgChat Foundation is proud to announce the 2015 National Agvocacy Conference which will be held at the Hotel Preston in Nashville, TN. In an effort to accommodate state and country fairs; back-to-school and other agriculturally related events, the conference is scheduled for November 9-10, rather than August.

We all know pioneers in our industry, but what happens when you are the pioneer? You celebrate. And, that is exactly what the AgChat Foundation community will be doing this year during the 2015 Annual Conference themed Celebrating Five Years of Pioneering Grassroots Agvocacy.

"In 2010, the AgChat Foundation was founded in an effort to connect farmers and ranchers while empowering them to connect communities and tell the stories behind their farms and ranches. The grassroots movement was the first of its kind which has led to training over 700 farmers, ranchers, agribusiness professionals, educators and enthusiasts,” stated Jenny Schweigert, Executive Director, AgChat Foundation. She adds, “It is amazing to see so many people successfully sharing the story behind our food and making meaningful connections with consumers. This year's event is as much about delivering excellent training as it is about celebrating the accomplishments made by the agriculture advocacy community over the past five years.”

This year’s conference plans to accommodate over 175 food and farm devotees and do it with the flair only Music City can offer. The conference and celebration is open all farmers, ranchers, growers, agribusiness people and agriculture educators from all walks of agriculture.

Sessions for beginners and advanced agvocates will include tactical strategies for providing information that the general public is seeking about food and farming, a writing workshop, food photography, search engine optimization, understanding analytics, establishing working relationships with the media, case studies, information management strategies, an overview of emerging social platforms, and planning an event on your farm or ranch.

In addition, the AgChat Foundation is asking for session ideas with the theme: “What, How, or Why Are You Doing Things Differently with Social Media Platforms?” for the event. To submit a session proposal, go to . The deadline for entry is 11:59 PM CT, June 21. One member from each winning proposal team will receive a complimentary registration to the conference. Travel and hotel are the responsibility of the presenter. Selected sessions will be announced July 1. For additional information contact, John Blue by email, or call 765-351-2583.

Registration and hotel reservations will be available beginning June 10. Sponsorship opportunities are available beginning June 1 and additional information may be obtained by emailing Jenny Schweigert at

Original release June 1 by AgChat Foundation.


June 1, 2015

Pork professionals from 41 countries will convene at the 2015 World Pork Expo

Twenty thousand pork producers and other professionals from throughout the world will visit World Pork Expo, June 3-5, at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. Brought to you by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), Expo presents the world’s largest pork-specific trade show, educational seminars with the latest information, national youth swine shows, plenty of pork barbecue and much more. To date, producers, exhibitors and media from 41 countries have registered to attend.

“World Pork Expo has evolved into a one-stop-shopping place for the newest equipment, software and technology-based products that help pork producers remain competitive in a global economy,” says Ron Prestage, D.V.M., NPPC president and South Carolina pork producer. “It also presents a great opportunity to interact with fellow producers and exchange ideas in an environment that is ideal for your entire team of employees.”

At the heart of Expo is the trade show, which will feature hundreds of commercial exhibits from companies based in North America, Asia and Europe. The trade show will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 3, and Thursday, June 4, as well as from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, June 5.

While some outdoor exhibits will be in new locations to accommodate fairgrounds renovations, attendees will once again find more than 310,000 square feet of exhibit space to explore. For the first time, America’s Best Genetics Alley will be in two locations — in the Agriculture Building and on the second floor of the Varied Industries Building.

“Expo-goers will want to download the World Pork Expo mobile app, as well as pick up an official program once they arrive, to find exhibitors easily,” says Doug Fricke, director of trade show marketing, NPPC. “Both also provide details about business seminars, PORK Academy and other activities. As an added bonus, the app offers interactive maps, social media updates and other notifications when you customize your own schedule.”

Another record-setting year for Expo’s Junior National

This year, the World Pork Expo Junior National is expected to establish another record for participation in its educational programs, contests and shows. After setting a new standard in 2014 with nearly 750 youth from 24 states exhibiting more than 1,600 hogs, even more junior members have registered to participate in 2015 — 200 of which are first-time participants.

Entries for the swine shows, including both the Junior National and the open shows, are 33 percent higher than in 2014. The Expo staff is preparing for as many as 3,500 hogs to be on site. The shows, which kick off with youth showmanship on Tuesday, June 2, will take place in the Swine Barn each day. Classes in one of the two show rings will be live-cast as well as recorded for future viewing.

Seminars and social activities abound

Expo is the place to collect the most current, useful insights on pork-production topics ranging from swine health and reproductive management to pork quality and marketing strategies. Throughout Wednesday and Thursday, a series of business seminars and PORK Academy will present more than a dozen educational seminars, all of which are free and will take place in the Varied Industries Building.

Once again, MusicFest will be the social highlight of World Pork Expo from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, June 4. With the stage set on Grand Avenue of the Iowa State Fairgrounds, this special event will feature four diverse musical acts that offer something for everyone. Entertainment will include an encore show by Jake McVey; the crowd-pleasing group, Hot Rod-Chevy Kevy; Denny Laine, formerly with Paul McCartney and Wings; and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Terry Sylvester.

There’s always plenty of tasty pork for visitors to enjoy at Expo, especially at the ever-popular Big Grill. Staffed by Iowa’s Tama County Pork Producers Association, it serves up free pork lunches from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. all three days of Expo.

“If you miss World Pork Expo, you will miss a great opportunity to connect with fellow pork producers,” says Prestage. “And, when you come to Expo, be sure to engage with NPPC directors and staff. It’s a great place to hear the latest on the many developments that are important to your business.”

Admission purchased at the gate is $20 per adult and $3 for youths aged 6 to 11; there is no charge for children 5 years of age and younger. This price of admission includes entry into Expo for all three days. A special rate of $10 is available for adults arriving on Friday.

Additional information is available at, and by connecting with World Pork Expo on Facebook and following Expo on Twitter (@NPPCWPX, #WPX15).


May 29, 2015

New Federal Rules on Stream Protection Hailed, Criticized

New federal rules designed to better protect small streams, tributaries and wetlands — and the drinking water of 117 million Americans — are being criticized by Republicans and farm groups as going too far.

The White House says the rules, issued Wednesday, will provide much-needed clarity for landowners about which waterways must be protected against pollution and development. But House Speaker John Boehner declared they will send “landowners, small businesses, farmers, and manufacturers on the road to a regulatory and economic hell.”

The rules, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, aim to clarify which smaller waterways fall under federal protection after two Supreme Court rulings left the reach of the Clean Water Act uncertain. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the waters affected would be only those with a “direct and significant” connection to larger bodies of water downstream that are already protected.

The Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 left 60 percent of the nation’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands without clear federal protection, according to EPA, causing confusion for landowners and government officials.

The new rules would kick in and force a permitting process only if a business or landowner took steps to pollute or destroy covered waters.

EPA says the rules will help landowners understand exactly which waters fall under the Clean Water Act. For example, a tributary must show evidence of flowing water to be protected — such as a bank or a high water mark.

President Barack Obama said that while providing that clarity for business and industry, the rules “will ensure polluters who knowingly threaten our waters can be held accountable.”

There is deep opposition from the Republican-led Congress and from farmers and other landowners concerned that every stream, ditch and puddle on their private land could now be subject to federal oversight. The House voted to block the regulations earlier this month, and a Senate panel is planning to consider a similar bill this summer.

House Speaker Boehner called the rules “a raw and tyrannical power grab.”

EPA’s McCarthy has acknowledged the proposed regulations last year were confusing, and she said the final rules were written to be clearer. She said the regulations don’t create any new permitting requirements for agriculture and even add new exemptions for artificial lakes and ponds and water-filled depressions from construction, among other features.

These efforts were “to make clear our goal is to stay out of agriculture’s way,” McCarthy and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy said in a blog on the EPA website.

The American Farm Bureau Federation has led opposition to the rules, saying they could make business more difficult for farmers. The group said Wednesday that it would wait to review the final rules before responding.

The agriculture industry has been particularly concerned about the regulation of drainage ditches on farmland. The EPA and Army Corps said the only ditches that would be covered under the rule are those that look, act and function like tributaries and carry pollution downstream.

Another farm group, the National Farmers Union, said it still has some concerns about the impact on farmers but is pleased with the increased clarity on ditches, “removing a gray area that has caused farmers and ranchers an incredible amount of concern.”

Since the rules were originally proposed last year, the EPA has been working to clear up some misconceptions, putting to rest rumors that puddles in your backyard would be regulated, for example. Farming practices currently exempted from the Clean Water Act — plowing, seeding and the movement of livestock, among other things — will continue to be exempted.

Environmentalists praised the rules, saying many of the nation’s waters would regain federal protections that had been in doubt since the Supreme Court rulings.

Margie Alt, executive director with Environment America, called the rules “the biggest victory for clean water in a decade.”

Original article on May 27 by


May 28, 2015

National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility Groundbreaking Held in Manhattan

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack today broke ground to officially begin construction of the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) main laboratory structure in Manhattan, Kansas.

"The NBAF laboratory will provide the nation with cutting edge, state-of-the-art, lab capabilities and help protect our food supply and the nation’s public health,” said Secretary Johnson.  “NBAF addresses a serious vulnerability. The economic impact of a bio agricultural threat – deliberate or natural – could have a substantial effect on the food supply of this Nation and have serious human health consequences.  We will soon be able to ensure availability of vaccines and other rapid response capabilities to curb an outbreak.  With the NBAF, our Nation will have the first Bio Level 4 lab facility of its kind – a state-of-the-art bio-containment facility for the study of foreign animal and emerging diseases.”

When completed and fully operational in 2022, the $1.25 billion NBAF will be a 570,000 sq.ft, biocontainment facility for the study of foreign animal and emerging zoonotic (transmitted from animals to humans) diseases that threaten animal agriculture and public health in the United States.

“This innovative new facility is capable of producing the research needed to protect our nation’s farmers, food supply, public health and the rural economy.  It has been a national priority for USDA, DHS, and our other partners as we work to replace aging facilities,” said U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Secretaries Johnson and Vilsack were joined by DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology Dr. Reginald Brothers, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran of Kansas, Reps. Tim Huelskamp, Kevin Yoder and Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, Mayor of Manhattan Karen McCulloh, and Kansas State University President Dr. Kirk Schulz. A unique partnership among DHS, the State of Kansas, and the City of Manhattan came together to construct this facility.

NBAF, located in the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor—the largest concentration of animal health companies in the world, will replace the Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC) in New York, providing capabilities that exceed those of PIADC. Specifically, NBAF will boast a maximum biocontainment (ABSL-4) laboratory space. The first laboratory facility in the United States of its kind, this facility will allow researchers to study zoonotic diseases that affect livestock and other large animals. Underscoring the need for this research is the knowledge that approximately 75 percent of new and emerging infectious diseases over the last 30 years have been zoonotic diseases.

Similar to the work at PIADC, NBAF will be a strategic national asset, providing modern laboratory space for DHS and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to carry out their unique yet complementary missions. The key functions of the NBAF laboratory space will include basic research, sample receipt testing and diagnosis, veterinarian training, countermeasures and vaccine candidate development, and vaccine efficacy trials.

Original release on May 27 by U.S. Department of Homeland Security.


May 27, 2015

Five Ways to Keep Pigs Cool This Summer

Heat can cause significant stress for pigs, often causing agitation and affecting their eating habits. When pigs eat less, they convert less feed into muscle thus reducing their average daily gain, increasing their days to market and ultimately putting a damper on the producer’s pocket book. Stress also opens doors to many other possibilities such as health challenges.

“You have to take into account the heat outside in addition to the heat that the pigs are producing from eating and moving around in the barn. Respiratory rates begin to increase around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and with high humidity, it becomes difficult for pigs to find relief from the heat on their own,” said Russell Gilliam, U.S. swine business manager for Alltech.

Pigs cannot cool themselves off as well as other animals, thus making it more important to ensure their environment is as comfortable as possible. Gilliam suggests five key management areas for beating the heat this summer: 

Control the temperature. This is especially important in early and late summer as wide variations between night and day temperatures can compound stress levels that the animals are experiencing. Avoid temperature shifts of a few degrees or more. Monitoring equipment such as computers, sensors and thermometers are essential.

Increase ventilation and ensure adequate space. Since pigs can generate large amounts of heat, focus on practices that produce less. Ensure each pig has enough space and ventilation. Keep motion minimal and do not disturb the animals during peak temperature times of the day. Check all fans and vents to ensure they are clean and running properly. A worn-out fan, bearings or wiring can have dramatic consequences in the summer.

Focus on water quality and access. It is very important to make sure pigs have unlimited access to fresh and cool drinking water, as drinking levels can also have an effect on feed intake. Taking water samples at the beginning and end of the water lines can help confirm water is the best quality possible.

Power your nutrition program. Data has shown that offering pigs a combination of organic acids, electrolytes, enzymes and probiotics can support young animals during times of stress. Organic acids support probiotic growth in the gut and enzymes can help enhance intake and digestibility. Electrolytes make sure the animal stays hydrated, especially in times of heat stress. Combination technologies work quickly by lowering the pH of the water. Depending on the type of water and the target level for pH, these technologies can work on their own or with a combination of other ingredients to help optimize the gut environment.

Monitor your pigs. Even if you think it might not be too hot, pigs can still be affected by the additional heat they are creating. Watch for signs that your pigs are overheating: faster breathing, fluctuations in feed and water intake levels, reduced activity and lying stretched on the floor, often separated from others.

“Being prepared for heat stress challenges can lead to healthier animals and healthier profits. Addressing the summer challenges that arise as quickly as possible can have a major impact on the overall value of your pigs when you take them to market,” Gilliam said. “To keep your animals prepared, it is essential you keep their nutrition equipped with technologies that build their natural immunity.”

Original article on May 15 from PorkNetwork.


May 26, 2015

NPPC President Ron Prestage Statement On Walmart Commitment To Responsible Farming

The National Pork Producers Council applauds Walmart’s commitment, announced today, to sustainable and responsible farming, which America’s pork producers make every day. By using antibiotics responsibly and providing humane and compassionate care for their animals, pork producers ensure animal health and well-being and a safe, wholesome food supply. Walmart’s recognition of that proves that America’s farmers, not extreme animal activist groups, should be setting food policy.

The U.S. pork industry’s long-standing training and certification programs have worked to ensure that farmers and veterinarians use antibiotics responsibly, protecting the efficacy and availability of antibiotics for therapeutic and disease prevention purposes for the health and safety of animals and the food supply.

The Judicious Use Guidelines of the American Veterinary Medical Association and of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and the Responsible Use of Antibiotics Guidelines in the pork industry’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus program are closely aligned, and NPPC supports their incorporation into every farmer’s daily practices. Additionally, the pork industry is adopting changes included in FDA Guidance 213, which is restricting the use in food animals of medically important antibiotics, as well as the agency’s Veterinary Feed Directive. The industry also is working with USDA and FDA to best accomplish meaningful reporting of antibiotics use data.

America’s hog farmers are committed to producing safe, affordable and healthful foods for consumers and using industry practices that have been designed with input from veterinarians and other animal-care experts to provide humane and compassionate care for their pigs at every stage of life.

Original release May 22 by National Pork Producers Council.


May 21, 2015

Metzger Provides Testimony to Senate Subcommittee on Environment and Public Works

Today Kansas Department of Agriculture Assistant Secretary Susan Metzger provided testimony of support in front of a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, chaired by Sen. James Inhofe, in regards to the Federal Water Quality Protection Act and provided support for S.1140.

“With this legislation, the States, as primary implementers of the Clean Water Act, will play a more appropriate and necessary role in crafting a rule that clearly defines Waters of the United States. S.1140 recognizes the shortcomings of the original engagement put forth by the Federal agencies by promoting renewed Federalism and proper coordination with the States before publication of the rule,” Metzger testified.

“S.1140 clearly establishes groundwater and isolated ponds should not be defined as Waters of the United States. Of particular significance to Kansas is the exclusion of stream reaches that do not contribute flow in a normal year to downstream navigable waters, a typical situation in Western Kansas. We encourage the Federal agencies consult with western state water resource agencies and use their in-house knowledge of water availability when establishing these measures.”

Sen. Pat Roberts and Sen. Jerry Moran both co-sponsored S.1140.

The mission of the Kansas Department of Agriculture includes advocating for and promoting the agriculture industry, the state’s largest industry, employer and economic contributor; while protecting natural resources, promoting public health and safety, protecting animal health, and providing consumer protection to the best of our ability.

To read Metzger’s entire testimony, click here. 

Original release May 19 by Kansas Department of Agriculture.


May 20, 2015

NPPC Urges Congress to Fix Meat Labeling Law Now

Trade retaliation is imminent unless Congress repeals a U.S. meat labeling law, said the National Pork Producers Council, following today’s World Trade Organization decision upholding an earlier ruling that the statute violates U.S. international trade obligations.

The WTO rejected an appeal by the United States of the international trade body’s October 2014 ruling that the U.S. Country-Of-Origin Labeling (COOL) law discriminates against Canadian cattle and pigs and Mexican cattle. COOL requires meat to be labeled with the country where the animal from which it was derived was born, raised and harvested. Canada and Mexico send livestock to the United States to be fed out and processed. The WTO decision paves the way for those countries to place tariffs on U.S. imports.

“Unless Congress acts now, Canada and Mexico will put tariffs on dozens of U.S. products,” said NPPC President Ron Prestage, a veterinarian and pork producer from Camden, S.C. “That’s a death sentence for U.S. jobs and exports.

 "I know tariffs would be financially devastating for the U.S. pork industry, and I’m sure they’ll have a negative impact on a host of other agricultural and non-agricultural sectors.”

Canada and Mexico are expected to quickly request authorization from the WTO to retaliate against U.S. products. The level of retaliation will be equivalent to the economic harm incurred by the countries from COOL; Canada and Mexico are expected to claim billions of dollars in damages. The WTO likely will authorize retaliation sometime this summer.

NPPC opposed COOL when it was being debated by Congress as part of the 2002 Farm Bill, warning that, among other things, the law was not compatible with WTO rules.

“The United States economy can’t afford to have its products restricted, through tariffs, to its No. 1 and 2 export markets,” Prestage said. “Congress needs to address this now. If it doesn’t, the lost jobs and the damage to our economy will be on lawmakers’ heads.”

Original release May 18 by National Pork Producers Council.


May 19, 2015

Seaboard Foods, Triumph Foods Plan to Build Pork Processing Plant

Seaboard Foods and Triumph Foods recently announced the formation of a joint venture, with equal ownership, to construct a new pork processing facility in Sioux City, Iowa, with site work expected to begin this summer and construction completed by July 2017.

The plant is expected to process about 3 million market hogs annually operating a single shift and employ approximately 1,100 persons, including approximately 200 salaried positions and 900 hourly production positions. The plant will be built on property in the Bridgeport West Industrial Park in Sioux City, located north of the Sioux Gateway Airport along the Missouri River.

A full line of fresh pork products for international, retail, food service and further processing markets will be produced. Seaboard Foods will market and sell the pork produced by the plant. Currently, Seaboard Foods markets and sells fresh pork processed by Triumph Foods’ St. Joseph, Mo., and Seaboard Foods’ Guymon, Okla., plants to domestic markets under the PrairieFresh Premium Pork brand and international markets under the Seaboard Farms and St. Joe Pork brands.

“Today’s announcement marks another step in strengthening our business partnership and position as a leading integrated food system providing customers domestically and throughout the world with premium pork focused on the highest standards for food safety and pork quality consistency,” says Terry Holton, Seaboard Foods president and CEO. “We look forward to the new opportunities the plant will bring to our customers as well as the Sioux City region.”

Mark Campbell, Triumph Foods CEO, adds, “When we started inquiring about expanding our business, we recognized the strong commitment and willingness to welcome Triumph Foods and Seaboard Foods to the city. Local leaders have built a business environment poised to bring growth to the region. We look forward to the new pork processing facility being part of that growth, and its staff being actively involved in the Sioux City community.”

Triumph Foods is owned exclusively by pork producers and Seaboard Foods is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Seaboard Corp. Triumph Foods and Seaboard Foods are integrated food companies, with farm operations and pork processing, controlling the entire process every step of the way from before the farm to the plate. Together, Seaboard Foods and Triumph Foods have aligned their farm operations and pork processing, including genetics, pig nutrition, animal care, food safety and product quality, to ensure consistent, wholesome premium pork products to its customers. If the two companies were considered as a single combined entity, they would comprise the second largest hog producer, a top five U.S. pork processor, and a leading exporter of U.S. pork.

In addition to the new plant, Seaboard Foods and Triumph Foods own Daily’s Premium Meats that has bacon processing plants in Salt Lake City and Missoula, Mont., and a third plant under construction in St. Joseph, Mo. Daily’s markets and sells a variety of processed pork items from signature honey cured bacon to applewood smoked bacon to naturally smoked hams to breakfast sausages. The new pork processing plant will supply raw materials for Daily’s operations in addition to the Guymon and St. Joseph plants.

Original article on May 14 by National Hog Farmer.


May 18, 2015

PORK Academy Held at World Pork Expo

Annual World Pork Expo Returns to Des Moines June 3-5, 2015

The Pork Checkoff's Producer Opportunity for Revenue and Knowledge (PORK) Academy sessions will again be part of the World Pork Expo, Wednesday, June 3 through Thursday, June 4, 2015. The annual sessions are designed to educate pig farmers on the latest trends in pork production. The PORK Academy is held each year during World Pork Expo on the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa.

"PORK Academy offers an outstanding lineup of leading experts who will address issues facing producers today," said James Coates, chair of the Checkoff's Producer and State Services Committee and a pork producer from Franklin, Kentucky. "These sessions will provide attendees with information to help operate their farms more effectively and to stay current on industry trends and challenges."  2015 PORK Academy seminars will be held at Varied Industries Bldg. Room C and will cover:


Varied Industries Bldg. Room C

9:15 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.                                                                                         

FDA Antibiotics Guidance

Jennifer Koeman, National Pork Board

Harry Snelson, American Association Swine Veterinarians

This session will provide an overview of regulatory changes on antibiotic use in food animals and what it will mean on the farm.

10:15 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Secure Pork Supply

Pam Zaabel, Iowa State University

The secure pork supply plan is being developed to help maintain business continuity in the event of trade limiting foreign animal disease of swine. Recently the producer components of the plan were piloted in Iowa. This session will provide an overview of the pilot project and the experiences of the production system that participated.                                                                

11:15 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Common Industry Audit

Sherrie Webb, National Pork Board                                                                    

As packers have begun implementing on-farm audit programs for their suppliers, the National Pork Board has facilitated the development of the Common Swine Industry Audit to reduce burdens on producers and build audit process clarification across the industry. Sherrie will highlight progress of the standard industry audit and help producers be prepared for when they are called.

1:30 p.m. - 2:15 p.m.

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV)

Paul Thomas, AMVC

This session will provide the most up-to-date research information on the management and control of PEDV within the U.S., including information and biosecurity interventions for transportation.

2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

U.S. Pork Exports - Situation & Outlook

Dermot Hayes, Iowa State University

Becca Nepple, National Pork Board

Plan to learn about U.S. pork export markets, gain insight into world economics and the growing opportunity for global trade.


Varied Industries Bldg. Room C

9:15 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.     

Sow Lifetime Productivity

Chris Hostetler, National Pork Board

The number of quality pigs a sow produces from the time she becomes breeding eligible until she leaves the herd is more comprehensive than simply measuring pigs per sow per year. It more fully represents the overall efficiency with which she produces pigs and has a greater impact on profitability of the entire enterprise. Nutrition, genetic selection, environment, animal welfare and health are just a few of the bigger factors that affect productivity. Research is being conducted that to provide pork producers with management tools to improve sow lifetime productivity.

10:15 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.  

Planning for an emergency mass-depopulation of swine in response to a foreign animal disease outbreak

Mark Rice, North Carolina State University

In the event of a foreign animal disease outbreak in the United States, a method for rapid on-farm swine mass-depopulation must meet American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) requirements. This session will share planning tools and basic planning concepts for an on-farm system that meets AVMA recommendations.

11:15 p.m. - Noon          

The Swine Health Information Center - A New Defense for the Industry

Paul Sundberg, National Pork Board

The experience of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) has offered many lessons. We have learned the logistics of today's pork production is so large that the likelihood of being able to protect against the entry of another disease is, at best, extremely small. International travel has dramatically increased, and pork producers import a wide variety of inputs onto their farms. This session will share how we can prepare for future production diseases and how the Swine Health Information Center can help with coordinated federal, state and industry responses.

1:30 p.m. - 2:15 p.m.

Mitigating Impact of Seasonal Loss of Productivity

Tim Safranski, University of Missouri

This session will provide information on the impacts of seasonality of swine, including recent research that has measured the impact of in utero heat stress on subsequent growth, composition and reproductive efficiency. More research is being conducted to define the in utero effect.

2:30 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

Pork Quality

David Newman, North Dakota State University

Dustin Boler, University of Illinois

Consistent, high-quality pork will increase positive eating experiences for consumers. David will discuss the results of the updated retail quality study along with the direction of improving pork quality.  Dustin will present on Checkoff funded research correlating the quality from different primals of the pork carcass.

For more information about Pork Checkoff-sponsored events and activities at World Pork Expo, call the Pork Checkoff Service Center at (800) 456-7675. For information about other World Pork Expo activities, visit


May 15, 2015

First Nebraska Cases of Bird Flu Confirmed in Flock of 1.7 M

The ongoing bird flu outbreak has spread into Nebraska, and officials said Tuesday they plan to kill 1.7 million chickens on a farm where the disease has been found.

The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said the presence of the illness on an egg farm in Dixon County in northeast Nebraska is the first in the state.

But bird flu is already widespread in neighboring Iowa, where more than 26 million chickens have been lost. Officials routinely destroy the entire flock when the disease is found to limit its spread.

Nebraska Agriculture Department Director Greg Ibach said he hopes officials will be able to limit the spread of bird flu, but the experience with the disease in other states suggest it will be difficult to contain.

"Unfortunately, Nebraska has joined a long list of states currently dealing with highly pathogenic avian influenza," Ibach said. "The goal is to quarantine the flock and attempt to control and contain the virus as quickly as possible."

The federal Agriculture Department said the bird flu doesn't represent a significant health risk to humans.

Northeast is Nebraska is home to the majority of the egg-laying operations in the state, so officials are urging other farmers to follow proper biosecurity procedures. Nebraska has nearly 10 million egg-laying chickens and ranks 10th among states in egg production.

Ibach said all farmers with poultry near the infected flock will be contacted and a perimeter will be established around the farm.

Veterinarians trained in disposal procedures will oversee the killing of the chickens in the days and weeks ahead.

Original article on May 12 by NewsOK.



May 14, 2015

One of the Best Fields for New College Graduates? Agriculture

Nearly 60,000 High-Skilled Agriculture Job Openings Expected Annually in U.S., Yet Only 35,000 Graduates Available to Fill Them

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a new report showing tremendous demand for recent college graduates with a degree in agricultural programs with an estimated 57,900 high-skilled job openings annually in the food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and environment fields in the United States. According to an employment outlook report released today by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and Purdue University, there is an average of 35,400 new U.S. graduates with a bachelor's degree or higher in agriculture related fields, 22,500 short of the jobs available annually.

"There is incredible opportunity for highly-skilled jobs in agriculture," said Secretary Vilsack. "Those receiving degrees in agricultural fields can expect to have ample career opportunities. Not only will those who study agriculture be likely to get well-paying jobs upon graduation, they will also have the satisfaction of working in a field that addresses some of the world's most pressing challenges. These jobs will only become more important as we continue to develop solutions to feed more than 9 billion people by 2050."

The report projects almost half of the job opportunities will be in management and business. Another 27 percent will be in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) areas. Jobs in food and biomaterials production will make up 15 percent and 12 percent of the openings will be in education, communication, and governmental services. The report also shows that women make up more than half of the food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and environment higher education graduates in the United States.

Other highlights of the report include:

While most employers prefer to hire graduates of food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and environment programs, graduates from these programs only fill about 60 percent of the expected annual openings. Even as enrollments in these programs increase and the job market becomes somewhat more competitive, good employment opportunities for the next five years are expected.

Growth in job opportunities will be uneven. Employers in some areas will struggle to find enough graduates to fill jobs. In a few areas, employers will find an oversupply of job seekers.

Expect to see a strong employment market for e-commerce managers and marketing agents, ecosystem managers, agricultural science and business educators, crop advisors, and pest control specialists.

Job opportunities in STEM areas are expected to grow. Expect the strongest job market for plant scientists, food scientists, sustainable biomaterials specialists, water resources scientists and engineers, precision agriculture specialists, and veterinarians.

The report, Employment Opportunities for College Graduates in Food, Agriculture, Renewable Natural Resources, and the Environment, United States, 2015–2020This is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website., is the eighth in a series of five-year projections initiated by USDA in 1980. The report was produced by Purdue University with grant support from NIFA.

Original article on May 11 by United States Department of Agriculture.


May 13, 2015

NPPC Critical of Dietary Recommendations

In comments submitted today to the secretaries of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS), the National Pork Producers Council criticized recommendations related to meat in the diet from a committee informing the creation of new federal guidelines for healthy eating.

In a February report to USDA and HHS, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) recommended that people consume less red and processed meat, and it omitted lean meat from its recommended dietary pattern. Additionally, the panel of health and nutrition professionals concluded that a diet higher in plant-based and lower in animal-based foods would be more environmentally sustainable.

USDA and HHS every five years write new dietary guidelines, which affect all federal food purchasing programs, including the School Lunch program. The 2015 guidelines are expected to be issued late this year.

NPPC pointed out in its comments that there is ample scientific evidence supporting the nutritive value of meat and noted that previous dietary guidelines recognized and supported the critical role animal proteins play in ensuring a nutritionally optimal American diet. The organization said the DGAC recommendations on meat were reached “on tenuous grounds.”

It also was critical of the committee for not reviewing the “full breadth of scientific research that supports the inclusion of meat into healthy dietary profiles” and for relying extensively on information sources from outside USDA’s Nutrition Evidence Library, a repository of nutrition information. The DGAC acknowledge that the NEL was used to develop about a quarter of its conclusions.

On the issue of sustainability, NPPC wrote that the DGAC had “neither the mandate nor breadth of expertise needed to do this topic justice.” Consideration (and inclusion) of sustainability was a significant overreach, said NPPC.

The organization pointed out that meat, including pork, includes a number of critical vitamins and minerals, including B12, Heme iron and potassium, which often are lacking in many American diets. It also noted that lean, nutrient-rich meat is versatile, affordable and accessible, making it easy to incorporate into the diet.

NPPC asked USDA and HHS to “ensure that pork retains its rightful place on the American plate.”

Comments echoing NPPC’s also were submitted by 27 state pork associations.

Original article on May 8 by PorkNetwork.


May 12, 2015

Hog Outlook, Another Good Week for Hog Prices

Domestic meat demand has been strong in recent months, but export demand is weak. Domestic pork demand was up 13% in March. March was the 27th consecutive month with demand stronger than a year earlier. Export demand for U.S. pork was down 26% in March.

U.S. pork exports were down 8.9% in March with big declines in shipments to China and Japan. This was the ninth consecutive month with export tonnage lower than a year ago. U.S. pork imports were up 28.6% in March. This was the 13th consecutive month with imports above the year-earlier level. During March, 20.85% of U.S. pork production was exported and imports equaled 4.81% of production.

Hog imports from Canada were up 7.4% in March with the increase coming from more slaughter hogs rather than feeder pigs.

This was another good week for hog prices. Thursday's negotiated carcass price for plant delivered hogs averaged $77.51/cwt which is $4.55 higher than a week earlier.

Peoria had a top live price today of $52/cwt, $4 higher than last Friday. The top price today for interior Missouri live hogs was $54.25/cwt, up $6 from the previous Friday.

The national average negotiated barrow and gilt purchase price on the morning report today was $76.39/cwt. The western corn belt averaged $77.98/cwt and Iowa Minnesota had a morning average of $77.00/cwt. There was no eastern corn belt negotiated price quote this morning.

This morning's pork cutout value was $79.05/cwt FOB the plants. That is up $5.13 from the week before, but down $33.30 from a year ago. For the fifth week in a row, wholesale belly prices are lower than the pork cutout value.

Packer margins improved some this week, but are still unsustainably tight. Thursday's national negotiated hog price equaled 96.6% of the cutout value. Look for packers to continue to cut back on their slaughter hours.

Hog slaughter this week totaled 2.111 million head, down 2.2% from the week before, but up 5.2% from same week last year. Year-to-date hog slaughter is up 5.5% and pork production is up 5.6%. Since March 1, slaughter has averaged a bit over 1% above the level implied by the March inventory survey.

The average live slaughter weight of barrows and gilts in Iowa-Minnesota last week was 282.0 pounds, up 0.2 pound from the week before, but down 5.0 pounds from a year ago. This was the sixth consecutive week with weights lighter than last year.

The May lean hog futures contract closed today at $80.85/cwt, up $4.85 for the week. June hog futures ended the week at $84.82/cwt, up $3.57 from the week before. July hogs gained $1.87 this week to close at $83.92/cwt. The August contract settled at $84.22/cwt.

USDA estimates that 55% of corn acres had been planted by May 3. That is 36 points ahead of last week, 27 points ahead of last year, and 17 points ahead of the five year average.

The May corn futures contract settled at $3.585/bushel today.

Original article on May 8 by PorkNetwork.


May 11, 2015

The 2015 World Pork Expo

The dates are set for the 2015 World Pork Expo — June 3-5 — at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. World Pork Expo is brought to you by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and presents a wide range of activities, including the world’s largest pork-specific trade show, educational seminars, and swine shows and sales.

“World Pork Expo is a showcase of pork production,” says Howard Hill, D.V.M., NPPC president and Iowa pork producer. “You’ll find everything that a producer might use on the farm, from data processing and premier genetics, to new feeders and the latest animal health products. It’s a great opportunity to get a crash course in what’s new.”

In 2014, 20,000 pork producers, their employees and other professionals attended Expo, and the event’s general manager, Alicia Newman, expects similar numbers this year. Enhancing the global perspective, representatives from more than 30 countries visit the three-day show each year.

The world’s largest pork-specific trade show features hundreds of commercial exhibits from companies throughout the world. The newest products, services and technologies for producing pork are on display in more than 310,000 square feet of exhibit space. The trade show runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 3, and Thursday, June 4. On Friday, June 5, the trade show is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

A long list of free educational sessions are on tap for Wednesday and Thursday where producers can get updates on issues that affect their businesses, learn about new production and management practices, and review the latest research. The business seminars and PORK Academy also will outline new technologies and business strategies, and offer opportunities for dialogue with experts.

Throughout the week, Expo attendees will find live hogs on display in the swine barn. Highlighting the exhibit is the World Pork Expo Junior National, which has evolved into one of the United States’ premier educational programs and shows. Hosted by the by the National Junior Swine Association (NJSA) and Team Purebred, the Junior National again set a record in 2014, with more than 1,600 pigs exhibited by nearly 750 juniors from 24 states. Rules and entry details are available at

An open show rounds out the exhibition, with swine breeders from throughout the nation vying for top honors. In 2014, nearly 600 hogs were exhibited in Expo’s open show. A breeding stock auction will be held on Saturday, June 6, beginning at 8 a.m.

Expo also provides the opportunity for pork professionals to network and reconnect, and MusicFest on Thursday afternoon provides the ideal setting. Attendees can relax, listen to live music performances, and enjoy tasty grilled pork and refreshments.

As one would expect, there’s no shortage of pork at Expo, and the Big Grill is a must-see. Each day, you can stop by for a free pork lunch. Staffed by Iowa’s Tama County Pork Producers Association, the Big Grill serves up some 10,000 pork lunches during Expo’s three days.

“World Pork Expo is the place where producers get together and share ideas, but it’s not just for primary owners,” Hill says. “Producers should encourage staff members to attend, too. People come from countries throughout the world because there’s truly something for everyone at Expo.”

For details about event schedules and the latest information on room availability at official World Pork Expo hotels, visit The website also enables convenient registration from March 2 through May 28 at the discounted rate of $10 per adult (ages 12 and up), which covers all three days of Expo. On-site registration is $20 per adult, with a special rate of $10 for people arriving on Friday.

Other ways to stay informed include connecting with World Pork Expo on Facebook, following Expo on Twitter (#NPPCWPX), and downloading the free mobile app by searching for “World Pork” in the Apple Store, Android Market or Blackberry’s App World.

If you’re shopping for new products and services, are interested in the latest production and management information, or want to compare notes with fellow pork producers, make plans to attend the 2015 World Pork Expo, June 3-5.

World Pork Expo, the world's largest pork-specific trade show, is brought to you by NPPC. On behalf of its members, NPPC develops and defends export markets, fights for reasonable legislation and regulation, and informs and educates legislators. For more information, visit


May 8, 2015

CAFO Information Release Ruling Appealed

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) formally appealed a lower court ruling that allowed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to publicly release information regarding livestock farms subject to concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) regulations.

The appeal was filed April 24, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. It seeks to reverse a Jan. 27, 2015 ruling by U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota (Case No. 15-1234).

Read Court OKs release of CAFO information

The ongoing legal battle stems from the 2013 EPA release of CAFO database information to three environmental advocacy groups under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. EPA released personal information about tens of thousands of livestock and poultry farmers, ranchers and their families in multiple states. The database included the names of farmers, ranchers and sometimes other family members, home addresses and GPS coordinates, home telephone numbers and personal emails.

In July 2013, AFBF and NPPC filed an injunction in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota to block EPA from publicly releasing additional data under FOIA requests until a court could clarify EPA’s obligation to keep personal information about citizens private.

However, in her ruling on Jan. 27, Judge Montgomery dismissed the case, concluding the farm groups lacked standing because the information released by EPA was already publicly available, and that CAFOs had yet to see any injury due to the release of the information. By dismissing the suit, Judge Montgomery ruled that farmers are not harmed when the government compiles and releases a storehouse of personal information, so long as individual bits of that information are somehow publicly accessible, such as through an Internet search or on a Facebook page.

Shortly after the ruling, AFBF appealed the case dismissal, and requested – and received – a stay preventing EPA from releasing any more personal information until the case was resolved.  

In its latest appeal, AFBF said the ruling failed to address key privacy issues, creating “a palpable threat to privacy.”

“Personal information is ubiquitous on the Internet; if the mere appearance of information on a website destroyed any continuing privacy interest in that information, privacy would be dead. The Supreme Court’s FOIA precedents foreclose that conclusion,” the brief stated.

According to the brief, EPA’s disclosure of the requested information serves only one purpose: “to put in the hands of environmental activists information that will help them to investigate and harass family farms on their own, in their efforts to bring private lawsuits against family farmers.”

In addition, the brief states that farms and ranches are inherently different from other  businesses, because nearly all are home-based.

“Most businesses’ mailing addresses lead to offices or factories; their telephones are answered by receptionists and secretaries; and their GPS coordinates point to parking lots or security-guard booths,” the brief states. “But family farms are fundamentally different – for the great majority of them, their businesses are their homes. Their driveways lead not only to their fields and their hen houses, but also to the swing sets where their children play. Their business telephone numbers are answered not by nameless receptionists in florescent-lit offices, but by their spouses in their family kitchens, and their children in their upstairs bedrooms.

“If anything, the fact that the disclosed information concerns farmers as both individuals and businesses is a greater reason to find the information protected, not the other way around.”

Some history

Long term, the case stems from EPA oversight of CAFOS through National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) regulations, dating back to about 2000. On 2008, the General Accountability Office issued a report concluding EPA did not possess reliable information it needed to identify and inspect CAFOs.

In October 2011, EPA published a proposed CAFO reporting rule, which would have required all CAFOs nationwide to submit basic information to EPA; or required EPA to collect basic information from CAFOs in specific watersheds. The proposed rule would have allowed EPA to collect information, like locations and animal population sizes, and make it publicly available and readily searchable through an EPA website.

Farmers, agricultural organization, USDA and even the Department of Homeland Security expressed concerns that the proposed rule was not only a serious overreach of EPA’s authority, but would create a road map for activists to harass individual families, and aid and abet terrorism and provide a threat to the nation’s food security.

EPA withdrew the proposed rule in July 2012, saying it was more appropriate to obtain CAFO information from existing sources, including USDA and state agencies already collecting the information.

In fall of 2012, environmental advocacy organizations submitted FOIA requests, seeking the release of information EPA already had on reporting CAFOs. In January 2013, EPA released data containing personal information about thousands of livestock and poultry farmers and ranchers in about 30 states.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) also said it was notified by EPA that CAFO information released through a FOIA request included many family farmers and ranchers who feed less than 1,000 head and were not subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act.

After the initial release, EPA attempted to recall some of the records, replacing it with a new set of data after redacting some of the personal information. However, one of the environmental advocacy groups, Food & Water Watch, said it would retain all original records.

Original article on May 1 by PorkNetwork.


May 7, 2015

Consumers Don’t Care if U.S. Farmers Feed the World

“We’re feeding the world” is a mantra often used by those involved in farming and food to build support for modern food production systems. However, the latest research from The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) shows that most consumers don’t seem to care.

“The global population is forecast to reach nine billion by 2050. Feeding the nine billion will require technology and innovation that will help farmers raise more animals for food and grow more crops on the land already in production,” said Charlie Arnot, CEO of CFI. “But the ‘feeding the world’ message won’t generate public support for today’s agriculture technology.”

In fact the latest research from The Center for Food Integrity, “Cracking the Code on Food Issues: Insights from Moms, Millennials and Foodies,” shows that only 25 percent of consumers believe, “The U.S. has a responsibility to provide food for the rest of the world.”

“It’s time to change the conversation,” said Arnot.

What consumers care about most, according to the survey, is having access to healthy, affordable food. For the last two years, that’s been a top concern.

“U.S. consumers are much more interested in access to healthy, affordable food than in feeding the world,” Arnot said. “Farmers are more likely to build support for today’s farming by talking about how what they do on the farm helps keep healthy food affordable.”

For example, share with them how modern farming innovations like  genetically modified seed and indoor animal handling systems allow farmers to produce safe food using fewer resources, with the added benefit of holding down costs, he said.

“Building trusting relationships with consumers is about making what you’re doing relevant to them and helping them understand that you share their values when it comes to important issues like animal care, the environment and providing healthy, affordable food ” he said. “Our peer-reviewed and published trust model tells us that communicating with shared values is three-to-five times more important to building consumer trust than simply providing information.”

“Helping consumers understand that you value what’s important to them goes a long way toward building trust,” said Arnot. 

A summary of the CFI research, “Cracking the Code on Food Issues: Insights from Moms, Millennials and Foodies,” can be downloaded at Contact CFI at

Original release on April 23 by The Center For Food Integrity.


May 6, 2015

KPA Hosts Dietetics Event at Cargill Innovations Center

Where can farmers and ranchers go to engage with about food? Simple answer, go where people are passionate about food. That is exactly what the Kansas Pork Association and Kansas Farm Bureau did when they participated in the Kansas Dietetic Association’s 2015 Annual Conference.

“We share the same passion, and that passion is centered in providing safe, healthy, nutritious and delicious food for our families and yours,” stated Kelly Wondra, Kansas pig and cattle farmer and attendee of the KDA pre-conference event that was held at the Cargill Innovations Center on April 22.

The pre-conference event hosted 52 food influencers that work as dietitians statewide, five farmer and ranchers from across the state and staff from all organizations. Farmer attendees included: Lexi Goyer, Cowley County; Stacey Forshee, Cloud County; Mick Rausch, Sedgwick County; Kelly and Luke Wondra, Barton County; and Heidi Wells, RD LD, Sedgwick County.

"In their day jobs, these dietitians work in a variety of settings from clinical dietitians to consulting dietitians, and public policy influencers to media communications specialists. In the evening, they are mothers, fathers, friends and food experts,” said Jodi Oleen, Director of Consumer Outreach at Kansas Pork.

Also included in the evening was a tour of the Cargill Innovations Center by Debbie Nece, Regulatory Affairs Manager and the option for attendees to see a culinary demonstration. The demonstration included a cutting presentation from Chef Jake Hartley from Blue Moon Caterers and a wine pairing session from local foodie and Blue Moon Caterers owner, Bill Rowe. Continuing education credits were offered for participants.


May 5, 2015

Annual Pork Management Conference in June

The Pork Checkoff will host the 2015 Pork Management Conference, Your Pork Industry Investment, June 16-19 in New Orleans.

This annual conference brings together experts from across the industry to speak on current business trends and challenges that help pork producers gain important insight and financial sophistication to manage their operation.

“The Pork Management Conference combines the latest production trends and business information with opportunities for pork producers to interact with knowledgeable financial professionals dedicated to helping them succeed,” said James Coates, chair of the Checkoff’s Producer and State Services Committee and a pork producer from Franklin, Ky. “Each attendee will come away from this three-day conference armed with tools they can use immediately to improve their farm.

”In addition to the general sessions open to all attendees on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings, two concurrent sessions are planned for Thursday. Topics include capital development and diversification opportunities and experiences, generational transfer of farm ownership/leadership, audit overload panel, income and estate tax planning, surviving disasters on the farm, price discovery and mandatory price reporting.

The registration fee is $395 per person through May 29 and rises to $435 after that date.  A registration form and a detailed list of events are available at

Original article on April 24 by PorkNetwork.


May 1, 2015

TPA Approved by Senate, House Committees; Heads to Floors for Final Votes

“The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015,” more commonly known as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), this week passed through committees in both houses of Congress, without significant amendments.

The TPA legislation defines U.S. negotiating objectives and priorities for trade agreements and establishes consultation and notification requirements for the president to follow throughout the negotiation process. The TPA bill was accompanied by three other pieces of trade legislation, including a 10-year renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

The legislation now heads to the floor of the Senate and House; the upper chamber most likely will consider it in early May, and the House is expected to take it up in mid-May.

NPPC helped lead private-sector support for TPA and urged members on the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees, which have jurisdiction over trade matters, to approve it. Congressional passage of TPA is expected to bring trading partners to their best and bottom line offers in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a regional trade agreement that is in the final stages of negotiation.

TPP has the potential to be the highest-standard, most economically significant regional free trade agreement ever negotiated. According to Iowa State economist Dermot Hayes, TPP is the most significant commercial opportunity ever presented to the U.S. pork industry and can be expected to generate more than 10,000 jobs in the U.S. pork industry alone.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be in Washington, D.C., next week to meet with President Obama, which should lend further momentum to concluding the TPP negotiations. NPPC yesterday issued a grass roots call-to-action, urging quick passage of the TPA bill.

Click here to tell your members of Congress that TPA is critical to your industry and to urge them to vote in favor of it.

Original article from National Pork Producers Council Capital Update.


April 30, 2015

Statement of NPPC CEO Neil Dierks On Legislation To Reauthorize The Mandatory Price Reporting System

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) strongly supports passage of H.R. 2051, which would amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to extend livestock mandatory price reporting requirements.

Introduced yesterday, the bill includes changes to the current reporting requirements, which have been discussed by the U.S. pork industry over the past two years and will improve the price reporting system.

NPPC thanks House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., for sponsoring the legislation and House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Chairman David Rouzer, R-N.C., and Ranking Member Jim Costa, D-Calif., for holding a hearing on this extremely important government service. Mandatory Price Reporting provides essential marketing information used every day by pork producers and meat packers to price the products they sell and buy.

NPPC urges members of the Committee on Agriculture to vote for passage of H.R. 2051 and for Congress to expeditiously consider and approve the reauthorization measure before the mandatory price reporting provision expires Sept. 30.

Original release April 29 by National Pork Producers Council.


April 29, 2015

Domino’s Says “No” to PETA

U.S. vegans will have to wait longer for vegan-friendly options at Domino’s.

According to the Detroit Free Press, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) proposed Domino’s add vegan cheese and meat to its topping options.

Despite their request, Domino’s shareholders overwhelmingly rejected the proposal by an estimated 43.2 million votes. Less than one percent of shareholders supported the idea. It should be noted PETA owns 39 of the company's shares.

"Like any prudent restaurant operation, we only add new items to our menu when there is meaningful consumer demand for that product," the board told MLive in a report here. "We have yet to see clear indication of that demand, which would suggest that we add it to the menu of our more than 5,000 U.S. stores and, therefore, the Board cannot and does not support this proposal."

Domino's vice president of communications Tim McIntyre echoed the board’s statement.

"We're constantly looking at consumer trends and new things. There has been no sign of consumer demand,” he told Detroit Free Press reporters. "We know a little bit more about launching products than they do. We know a little more about running our company than they do."

Read, “Domino's shareholders nix vegan toppings proposal”

How does the public feel about PETA’s proposal? Here are just a few of the comments left on MLive:

“Thanks Domino's for supporting American agriculture and not bowing to activists.  We all know that you offer various options for your customers and appreciate the efforts you make to do so.” – Deb Herring

“Thank you Domino's for once again standing up for our farmers and not giving in to pressure from animal rights activists. I'm not against having vegan options, but I do appreciate your board's response that changes should be made according to actual consumer demand and not by activists driving an agenda. Whenever I buy franchise pizza, it's always Domino's!” – Ryan Goodman

This isn’t the first time Domino’s shareholders have denied requests from animal rights groups. In 2012, shareholders voted against a resolution proposed by the Humane Society of the United States requiring pork suppliers to eliminate individual maternity pens from their gestation barns. The agricultural industry responded by hosting a nation-wide “pizza party” to pay it forward.

Original article on April 27 by PorkNetwork.


April 28, 2015

Pork Checkoff Announces Recipients of 2015 Pork Industry Scholarships

The Pork Checkoff has awarded 21 scholarships to college students around the United States as part of its strategy to develop the pork industry’s human capital for the future. Recipients were selected based on scholastic merit, leadership activities, involvement in the pork production industry and future plans for a career in pork production.

“Developing the next generation of leaders in the pork industry is one of the top issues that the Pork Checkoff has identified as being critical for the industry’s future. Finding new leaders also is part of our strategic plan,” said Dale Norton, president of the National Pork Board and a pork producer from Bronson, Mich. “Our ongoing goal is to help ensure that there is a sustainable source of new leaders ready to take on the industry’s charge of producing a safe, wholesome food product in a socially responsible way.”

The 21 student recipients, who hail from 15 states and 15 universities, are majoring in nine different swine-related fields. The 2015 Pork Industry Scholarship recipients are:

Applicant                               Institution             

Kaylen Baker                         Oklahoma State   

Matthew Romoser               Iowa State University          

Morgan Cox                          Purdue University               

Hayden Williams                  Wabash College  

Annie Clark                           Kansas State University      

Danika Miller                        Purdue University               

Taylor Owens                        Texas A&M University        

KaLynn Harlow                     Virginia Tech        

Darby Dillard                         Mississippi State University               

Allison Knox                          University of Illinois            

Nicole Gross                          University of Wisconsin     

Grant Price                            The Ohio State University  

Benjamin Smith                    Iowa State University          

Abigail Wehrbein                 University of Nebraska Lincoln         

Morgan Pittz                         Iowa State University          

Garrit Sproull                        The Ohio State University  

Adam Krause                        South Dakota State University          

Kaleb Sargent                       North Carolina State University        

Sarah Marketon                   University of Minnesota    

Ellen Nieuwoudt                   Kansas State University      

Cody Milbrath                       South Dakota State University          

This year’s top candidates were Kaylen Baker and Matthew Romoser, who will receive $5,000 and $3,500 scholarships, respectively.  The remaining 19 applicants will receive $2,000 each.

Kaylen Baker, a junior at Oklahoma State University, is from Yukon, Okla., and is majoring in animal science and agriculture communications, with a minor in agriculture economics and business. She plans to continue her academic career by pursuing a Master’s of Science degree in animal welfare.

Matt Romoser, a senior at Iowa State University, is from Keota, Iowa. He plans to pursue a Master’s of Science degree in reproductive physiology with Dr. Jason Ross at Iowa State University after completing his undergraduate degree. He hopes to have a career where he can play a key role in bringing applied reproductive technologies to pork production in order to facilitate genetic improvement and improve reproductive efficiency.

“To remain competitive on the global stage, a skilled workforce and strong leadership are essential,” Norton said. “We need young leaders to look at pork not just as a food choice, but as a career. The issues the next generation will face will be substantially different from those we are currently facing. Pork producers will need strong leadership in order to produce pork in a manner that is good for people, pigs and the planet.

” The National Pork Board has responsibility for Checkoff-funded research, promotion and consumer information projects and for communicating with pork producers and the public. Through a legislative national Pork Checkoff, pork producers invest $0.40 for each $100 value of hogs sold. Importers of pork products contribute a like amount, based on a formula. The Pork Checkoff funds national and state programs in advertising, consumer information, retail and foodservice marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, science and technology, swine health, pork safety and sustainability and environmental management.

For information on Checkoff-funded programs, pork producers can call the Pork Checkoff Service Center at (800) 456-7675 or check the Internet at


April 27, 2015

Hog Outlook: Retail Pork Price Still Above 2014

Retail pork prices peaked in September and have declined each month since. But the rate of decline has been slower than the drop in hog prices causing retailers margins to widen.

The average price of a pound of pork at retail was $3.893 during March. That was 4.8 cents lower than the month before, but 6.3 cents higher than a year ago. The average live price of 51-52% lean hogs in March, $45.61/cwt, was down 14 cents from the month before and down $38.21 from a year ago. The sharp drop in hog prices has left the wholesale-retail pork spread at a record $2.563 per pound. A tighter price spread should boost pork movement.

Beef prices are very high compared to pork. In March, the average retail price of ground beef ($4.20 per pound) was slightly higher than the average price of boneless pork chops ($4.196 per pound). Over the last four years, high bacon prices have boosted retail pork prices but that is changing. March bacon prices were the lowest since June 2013.

This morning's pork cutout value was $66.63/cwt FOB the plants. That is up 91 cents from the week before, but down $55.67 from a year ago. For the second week in a row, wholesale belly prices are lower than the pork cutout value.

Thursday's negotiated carcass price for plant delivered hogs averaged $62.14/cwt which is $4.10 higher than a week earlier, but $48.95 lower than a year ago.

The national average negotiated barrow and gilt carcass price on morning sales today was $61.19/cwt, up $2.45 from last Friday. This morning's price is 91.8% of the pork cutout value. The western corn belt averaged $61.37/cwt this morning. Because of low sales volume and confidentiality rules, there were no eastern corn belt or Iowa-Minnesota negotiated hog carcass price reports this morning.

Peoria had a top live price today of $40/cwt, $2 higher than last Friday. The top price today for interior Missouri live hogs was $44.50/cwt, up $4.50 from the previous Friday.

Hog slaughter this week totaled 2.243 million head, up 3.3% from the week before and up 12.0% from same week last year. Year-to-date hog slaughter is up 5.2% and pork production is up 5.6%.

The average live slaughter weight of barrows and gilts in Iowa-Minnesota last week was 283.8 pounds, up 0.3 pound from the week before, but down 1.9 pounds from a year ago.

The May lean hog futures contract closed today at $70.52/cwt, down $1.25 for the week. June hog futures ended the week at $76.27/cwt, down $1.88 from the week before. July hogs also lost $1.88 this week to close at $77.47/cwt. The August contract settled at $77.50/cwt.

The May corn futures contract settled at $3.7975/bushel which is 3 cents lower than a week earlier. September corn futures ended the week at $3.94 per bushel.

Original article on April 17 by PorkNetwork.


April 24, 2015

Mitigate the Risk of PEDv in Your Herd

In the winter of 2013-14, the U.S. pork industry was taken by storm when Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) ravaged herds across the country. The winter of 2014-15 was much less severe, but that doesn’t mean producers are out of the woods. Some researchers suggest producers will see a higher incidence of the virus this fall and next year, as new gilts that haven’t been exposed to the virus enter the herd.

Dr. Greg Cline, Technical Manager for Swine Enteric Vaccines at Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., says there is now a website that serves as a clearinghouse on PEDv information for producers and veterinarians. Called the “SOURCE” for PED management (, it walks users through a holistic, or systematic, review of their risks.

“It gives suggestions of how you can mitigate that risk, and ultimately drive down to the creation of an individual herd plan,” says Dr. Cline.

It’s valuable for both producers and veterinarians, he explains. “The system review of the herd plan and of the risks associated with PEDv stand by themselves,” he says. “The process is beneficial to veterinarians as well as producers.

Unique On-Line Tool

The step-by-step process is a unique on-line tool that makes it easier for veterinarians to comply with USDA mandatory reporting requirements in terms of review and discussions, says Dr. Cline. 

The website also helps producers, along with their herd veterinarian, to determine whether you should eliminate, diminish or prevent the virus from entering your farm by first taking a systematic approach to PED control and management. The process involves focusing on six key areas, identified with the acronym S.O.U.R.C.E.:

“State” – State the desired goals you hope to achieve.

“Obtain” – Obtain your current herd health status.

“Understand” – Understand the risks you and your operation face when you’re up against PEDv.

“Reduce” – Reduce the risks of infecting or re-infecting your herd.

“Construct” – In conjunction with your veterinarian, construct solutions that include a variety of options.

“Execute” – Execute and monitor solutions that you and your veterinarian have identified for your operation.

Disease Management

Producers have a responsibility to do all they can to control disease through best management practices to protect their own herd as well as those in the surrounding area and beyond. The SOURCE website provides a step-by-step process for developing a plan that can be used for control on any disease, including PEDv.

Watch this video with Dr. Cline to learn more.

Original article on April 15 by PorkNetwork.


April 23, 2015

National Pork Board Provides Input on 2015 Dietary Guidelines

The National Pork Board provided a three-minute oral testimony on the role of lean pork in a healthy diet at the National Institute of Health on Tuesday, March 24. National Pork Producers Council and other various meat industry groups also provided oral testimony on the importance of lean meat in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Many of the other comments provided were from trade organizations and activists groups – along with some consumers and researchers.

There was a lot of discussion around lean meat and red/processed meat guidance and sustainability. The public written comment period was extended 30 days with a deadline of May 8. The National Pork Board and National Pork Producers Council will also provide written comments prior to this date. 


April 22, 2015

GMOs: Now We’re Talking’ provided Open Discussion on Hot Topic

More than 75 people attended GMOs: Now We’re Talking Fri., April 17 at River Market Event Place in Kansas City, Missouri. The event, hosted by Kansas Farm Food Connection, included a chef demonstration and a panel discussion on genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

“The evening included a little fun and a lot of education,” Meagan Cramer, Kansas Farm Bureau’s co-director of communications, says. “Attendees had the opportunity to ask a variety of questions to a host of experts.”

Chad Bontrager, Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Deputy Secretary, said the week of April 13 had been proclaimed Biotechnology Awareness Week in Kansas by Gov. Sam Brownback. He then provided the original-framed proclamation to Mary Mertz, Riley County farmer.

The idea of celebrating biotechnology came from Mertz who farms with her husband, Bob, at River Creek Farms, a fourth-generation grain and livestock farm. Mertz was born and raised in Chicago. After marrying, the Mertzes moved to Kansas to start a family. Feeling as though she has had the best of both worlds, Mary feels it is important to be a strong advocate for agriculture, especially sharing the realities of farming with urban consumers.

"There are so many myths surrounding GMOs,” Mertz says. “The truth is that fruits and vegetables grown using biotechnology are as safe and nutritious as food grown by any other method. Consumers are inundated with misleading and inaccurate propaganda that omits the positive and beneficial factors of GMOs. It's time to applaud and appreciate the science of biotechnology instead of being skeptical of it."

Attendees enjoyed a chef demonstration from Chef Charles d’Ablaing, executive chef at the Raphael Hotel, who provided information and tips on cooking with USDA prime beef.

Attendees then heard from Dr. Anastasia Bodnar, board member of Biology Fortified, Inc.; an independent 501(c)(3) that aims to encourage conversations about agriculture, biotechnology, food and related subjects. Bodnar provided background and explained the science of GMOs.

A panel discussion took questions from the audience. Panelists included Dr. Bodnar; Chef d’Ablaing; Bob and Mary Mertz; and Angela Muir, a blogger at Handmade in the Heartland, who provided perspective on how she navigates the various information sources on this hot topic.

Questions ranged from the safety of the technology to the use in today’s food system. Attendees were also able to ask questions using the #raisingkansas hashtag via Twitter.

“Attendees left feeling more informed,” Cramer said. “GMOs are a huge topic and can be very confusing. This event provided an opportunity for conversations to start happening, and we look forward to seeing those conversations continue.”

The mission of Kansas Farm Food Connection is to share the exciting story of Kansas agriculture by connecting farms to families and families to farms to learn, eat and grow together. To learn more, visit or Facebook.


April 21, 2015

Kansas State Creates Center for Vector-Borne Diseases

The College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University is establishing a new center of excellence that will focus on helping to control infectious diseases in both people and animals.

On April 8, the Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases (CEVBD) will be publicly launched under the guidance of Roman Ganta, professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology. CEVBD is an interdisciplinary research center with a mission to combat vector-borne diseases with a focus on pathogenesis, surveillance and disease prevention.

"CEVBD will prepare us well to build a nationally and internationally recognized program to combat the emerging threats of vector-borne diseases in the U.S., including bacterial, parasitic and viral diseases," Ganta said. "The center also will strive to synergize with the soon-to-be-established federal facility in Manhattan (Kan.), the National Bio & Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF)."

CEVBD goals include establishing a tick-rearing facility to support the research needs of Kansas State University and other academic institutions and industry in the U.S.

"This facility is already in progress," Ganta said. "We started rearing Amblyomma americanum and Ixodes scapularis ticks. Further, we have developed a network to build research programs to promote strong collaborations among Kansas State faculty who have shared interests, as well as faculty and researchers at other academic institutions and industry in the U.S. and abroad."

The center also will produce programs to prepare future generations of scientists with expertise on vector-borne diseases, offering continuing education workshops and developing resources, such as a repository to maintain culture stocks of vector-borne pathogens.

Original article on April 6 by


April 20, 2015

FDA Clarifies Draft Guidance for Safety or Animal Feed on the Farm

On March 19, 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a draft guidance, Guidance For Industry (GFI) #203, to help animal producers take steps to help keep animal feed safe on the farm. The draft guidance outlines steps animal producers can take to identify feed contaminants that are sometimes present in the farm production environment and to prevent them from jeopardizing the health of farm animals and the safety of human food derived from the animals.

Draft guidance GFI #203 is intended to help animal producers identify:

Important animal feed safety issues that typically are not covered by regulations (e.g., unexpected changes in animal feed consumption patterns that could indicate the presence of contaminants in the feed; or contaminants that may be present in bedding or fencing materials that animals might eat)

A comprehensive approach to feed safety at the farm, beginning with acquisition of safe feed and maintenance of its safety until the feed is offered to animals. “Farm” means animal production units (e.g., integrated poultry grower operations, swine finishing units, cattle feedlots)

The draft guidance does not address the manufacture of feed on farms.

The FDA’s guidance documents, including guidance GFI #203, do not establish legally enforceable responsibilities. Instead, guidances describe the agency’s current thinking on a topic and provide recommendations, unless specific regulatory or statutory requirements are cited. The use of the word “should” in FDA guidances means that something is suggested or recommended, but not required.

The FDA is accepting public comments on this draft guidance through June 3, 2015. While comments are welcome at any time, you should submit them by June 3, 2015, in order for the FDA to consider your comments in drafting the final guidance.

To submit your comments electronically to the docket, go to and type FDA-2014-D-1180 in the search box.

Original article on April 15 by PorkNetwork.

April 17, 2015

Vaught: Hog Supplies May Soon Tighten

Short-term hog and pork supply readings could prove quite interesting during April and May. As mentioned in last week’s commentary, hog slaughter during the three weeks leading up to the March 27 USDA Hogs & Pigs report averaged 10.5 percent over comparable 2014 totals. When compared to the 9 percent annual increase in market-ready hog numbers on March 1 (as implied by the report), this suggests active producer marketings reduced the supplies likely to be available this month. Thus, one has to wonder if slaughter rates will live up to the indicated 6-7 percent increase implied by the middleweight hog categories on the report.

Recent weight readings also suggest market-ready hog numbers are diminishing. For example, after falling 0.8 pound the week prior, Iowa-Southern Minnesota pig weights edged up 0.1 pound to 283.5 pounds/head last week. Historically, the size of market hogs usually reaches a mid-winter low in late January, then rises into late April. But this latest reading is 2.6 pounds below the late January low. Moreover, it lagged far behind the weight surge posted in spring 2014, coming in 2.0 pounds/head below the comparable year-ago result. That implies a commensurate drop in pork production per head.

This disparity seems likely to grow during April and May, although the premiums now built into spring and summer futures may encourage producers to slow sales somewhat. Still, if producer marketings are running ahead of schedule and the USDA was correct in projecting diminished mid-to-late spring supplies, hog and pork production could slow substantially in the short run. If the slowdown is met by resurgent demand, the resulting price advance may more than justify the premiums built into CME futures.

Editor’s Note: Dan Vaught is a livestock economist for Doane Advisory Services, St. Louis, Mo. Doane distributes a number of timely, relevant newsletters to farmers that contain expert commentaries and market advice. For more information, call 314.569.2700 or go to:

Original article on April 13 by PorkNetwork.


April 16, 2015

KPA Connects with Health Professionals

On April 8, the Kansas Pork Association teamed up with Kansas Farm Bureau to engage health professionals around food and farming topics at a preconference event during the 2015 Annual Kansas Nutrition Council Meeting.

The event hosted 50 food influencers to an evening of conversation, appetizers and wine held at Extra Virgin Olive Oil in downtown Lawrence, KS. While there, attendees had opportunity to visit with farmers and ranchers from around Kansas about today’s farming. Five farmers were on hand the evening of the event to visit with the dietitians, extension agents and other health professionals.

The Kansas Pork Association and Kansas Farm Bureau also supported the annual meetings on April 9 with a booth focusing on today’s farming and a light brunch for the 110 nutritionist and nutrition educators in attendance. 

April 15, 2015

Pork Exports Down 10% in February

Wholesale belly prices are $65.45/cwt today, which is less than one-third of what they were a year ago. Friday's pork cutout value was $65.72/cwt FOB the plants. That is down 42 cents from the week before and down $59.40 from a year ago. Wholesale belly prices are lower than the pork cutout. That means bellies are a below-average-value pork cut.

USDA's April WASDE predicted 2015 pork production will be a record 24.24 billion pounds which is up 6.1% compared to last year. They expect barrow and gilt prices to average somewhere around $50/cwt live or $67/cwt on a carcass basis.

U.S. pork exports were down 10.1% in February with most of the decline in shipments to China. Pork exports equaled 19.4% of February U.S. production. The labor dispute at west coast ports ended in late February. Hopefully, pork exports will increase as we move forward. Pork imports were up 32.2% during February with most of the increase coming from Canada and Poland. Pork imports equaled 4.3% of U.S. production during February.

Live hog imports were up 8.7% in February with a 2.7% increase in weaner/feeder pig imports and a 42.8% increase in imports of other hogs.

Domestic pork demand was up 11.6% in February compared to a year earlier. Export demand was down 20.6%.

Hog prices are less than half of what they were at this time last year. Thursday's negotiated carcass price for plant delivered hogs averaged $58.04/cwt which is 95 cents higher than a week earlier, but a huge $61.26 lower than a year ago.

The national average negotiated barrow and gilt carcass price on morning sales today was $58.74/cwt, up $3.39 from last Friday. This morning's price is 88.3% of the pork cutout value. The western corn belt averaged $60.66/cwt this morning. Because of low sales volume and confidentiality rules, there were no eastern corn belt or Iowa-Minnesota negotiated hog carcass price reports this morning.

Peoria had a top live price today of $38/cwt, $3 higher than last Friday. The top price today for interior Missouri live hogs was $40/cwt, the same as the previous Friday.

Hog slaughter this week totaled 2.188 million head, down 0.3% from the week before, but up 8.6% from same week last year. Slaughter has been above year-ago each week since mid January.

The average live slaughter weight of barrows and gilts in Iowa-Minnesota last week was 283.5 pounds, up 0.1 pound from the week before, but down 2.0 pounds from a year ago. This was the second week with Iowa slaughter weights below the year-ago level following 103 consecutive weeks with weights above the year earlier level.

The April lean hog futures contract closed today at $62.55/cwt, down 62 cents for the week. May hog futures ended the week at $71.77/cwt, up $3.42 from the week before. June hogs gained $2.45 this week to close at $78.15/cwt. The July contract settled at $79.35/cwt.

Original article on April 13 by PorkNetwork.


April 14, 2015

Learn More About GMOs

Members of the  Kansas Farm Food Connection (KFFC) will host an evening discussing the topic of genetically modified ingredients Fri., April 17 at River Market Event Place in Kansas City, Mo. GMOs: Now We're Talking will provide an opportunity for conversation, education and fun.

"The topic of genetically modified organisms or GMOs is fraught with misinformation and fear," Meagan Cramer, co-director of communications for Kansas Farm Bureau, says. "We'll spend the evening hearing from experts including a mom with a Ph.D. in genetics, a couple who farms in Kansas, a chef, and a blogger who learned not everything you read or watch is bathed in truth."

The evening will start at 6 p.m. with a social and appetizers. Chef Charles d'Ablaing, executive chef at the Raphael Hotel, will provide a chef demo to attendees. At  7 p.m., a panel discussion will cover the ins and outs of GMOs. They include:

* Dr. Anastasia Bodnar, board member of Biology Fortified, Inc.; an independent 501(c)(3) that aims to encourage conversations about agriculture, biotechnology, food and related subjects.

* Bob and Mary Mertz, owners of  River Creek Farms in Manhattan, Kan.

* Angela Muir, blogger at Handmade in the Heartland, who will provide her perspective on how she navigates the various information sources on this hot topic.

* Chef d'Ablaing, executive chef at the Raphael Hotel, who celebrates all types of agriculture.

"We know there are people with questions about today's food system and GMOs especially," Cramer says. "This is a great opportunity to enjoy good food and drink while learning about a topic many of us are unsure of."  

To learn more and reserve a seat, visit

The mission of Kansas Farm Food Connection is to share the exciting story of Kansas agriculture by connecting farms to families and families to farms to learn, eat and grow together. To learn more, visit or Facebook.


April 13, 2015

Pork Checkoff Review

The Pork Checkoff has released the March-April Pork Checkoff Research Review. The purpose of the review is to give producers a user-friendly way to learn more about research funded by the Pork Checkoff, what it means to the industry, and where to go if you want more information.

Below is a summary of the environment study.

Study Name: Feeding amino acids to reduce air emissions and carbon footprint of swine production

Principal Researcher: Wendy Powers, Michigan State University

Key Points:

• Feeding reduced-crude protein (CP) diets based on NRC 2012 guidelines is an effective tool to reduce ammonia (NH3) emissions from swine housing.

• NH3 losses during land application were low, suggesting it is not an effective place to reduce emissions.

• No diet effects were observed for greenhouse gases (nitrous-oxide, methane or carbon dioxide) emissions.

Summary: A reduced-CP diets with synthetic amino acid supplementation has proven to be an effective way to reduce NH3 emissions from swine housing. However, there are limited feed-through-field studies to quantify gas emissions and carbon footprint changes due to feeding strategies. This study investigated air emissions and nutrient balance from swine housing, manure storage and field applications using a reduced-CP diet mitigation strategy. Seventy-two growing pigs in 12 experimental rooms were fed standard-CP or reduced-CP diets over 5 feeding phases. Diets contained similar energy and lysine contents within each phase. Results showed that diet did not alter average daily gain, daily feed intake or feed conversion ratio. As a result of feeding the standard-CP diet, room NH3 concentration and emissions were double that when the reduced-CP diet was fed. No other gases were affected by dietary treatments. Manure was collected to represent a single sample for each diet treatment during the grow/finish period. After storage, manure was applied to a soil surface and air emissions monitored, with no differences in NH3, nitrous-oxide or methane emissions. Because no changes in greenhouse-gas emissions were observed during any phase of the study (housing, manure storage or land application) no difference between diets in the carbon footprint of pork production would be calculated if the boundary was drawn around the farm. Findings may be different if the effect of producing synthetic amino acids were compared to that of meeting nutrient requirements through feedstuffs.

To learn more, click here.


April 10, 2015

Pork Checkoff Accepting Applications for ‘America’s Pig Farmer of the Year’ Award

America’s Pig Farmer of the Year award program, announced by the National Pork Board in early March, is accepting applications from now until May 17 at The award honors the U.S. pork producer who best excels at raising pigs using the We Care ethical principles and wants to share how he or she does that with the public.

Learn more about the award by listening to this podcast featuring Mike King, Director of Science Communications at the National Pork Board. Click here to listen.


April 9, 2015

Work Hard Dream Pig

Reach for the stars with the Professional Swine Managers Program!

The Professional Swine Managers courses, which quality as credit toward an associate’s degree, cover all the aspects of swine production and management-level responsibilities. Gain the skills, knowledge and experience needed to excel as a farm manager through education and technical training delivered by community college instructors who are experienced in the pork industry.

Courses include:

  • Facility Maintenance (Spring 2015)
  • Employer/Employee Issues (Summer (2015)
  • Breeding Stock Management (Fall 2015)
  • Swine Record Systems (Spring 2015)
  • Agribusiness Internship (Summer 2015)
  • Nursery and Finishing Management ( Fall 2015)

For additional information visit or contact with any questions.

Original article April 6 by U.S. Pork Center of Excellence.


April 8, 2015

KPA Talks Farming at KU Campus

Bacon and buzzwords enticed curious visitors to pause at the University of Kansas on Wednesday, Apr. 1, to learn how Kansas farmers raise their food.

The Kansas Memorial Union lobby hummed with conversation as students, faculty and staff sampled free bacon and posed their questions on modern farming practices to volunteers from Kansas State University’s Food for Thought organization, the Kansas Pork Association and CommonGround Kansas. Some visitors posted their questions publicly to receive a “baconologist” or “baconista” T-shirt from the Kansas Pork Association.

Events connecting food buyers with farmers are becoming more common as interest in food production practices grows. Many consumers find they have more questions than answers.

“We’re faced with more choices than ever, which can be very overwhelming. Our goal is to forge connections where shoppers can feel comfortable asking tough questions of the folks growing their food,” said Shannon Krueger, CommonGround Kansas coordinator. “Everyone deserves to have the information they need to be confident in their food choices.”

Common questions addressed concerns with biotechnology, animal welfare and organic foods. Visitors learned about pig farming while viewing a model barn and received information with links to research on common food concerns.

Connor Needham, sophomore from Dallas, Texas, said making smart food decisions became more challenging once he started college.

“I grew up in a family that emphasized healthy food choices,” he said. “When I’m grocery shopping, I’ll call my mom for advice.”

Many shoppers find it difficult to find trustworthy sources for food information. In an increasingly noisy online space, it can be tedious to decipher which sources are based on sound science. In addition, few consumers personally know a farmer they can ask about production practices.

The widening communication gap requires cooperation from both sides.

“It is vital that farmers take opportunities to connect with consumers and listen to their concerns. It’s equally important that consumers seek out factual information to help guide food choices,” said Jacob Hagenmaier, Food for Thought outreach coordinator.

The event’s sponsoring organizations have a shared mission to connect grocery shoppers with the farmers who grow their food.

“We enjoy connecting with folks who are passionate and want to learn more about their food,” said Jodi Oleen, director of consumer outreach for the Kansas Pork Association. “Partnering with Food for Thought and CommonGround allows us to offer a wide variety of perspectives and information to our visitors.”

Volunteers included, from Food for Thought: Chance Hunley, Riverton; Lindi Bilberry, Garden City; Jacob Hagenmaier, Randolph; Bruce Figger, Hudson; Karly Frederick, Alden; from the Kansas Pork Association: Jodi Oleen, Manhattan; from CommonGround Kansas: Karra Ross, Clay Center; Laura Handke, Atchison; and Shannon Krueger, Abilene.

For more information, please contact Shannon Krueger, CommonGround Kansas, (785) 479-1633,


April 6, 2015

National Pork Board Embraces Steps to Curb Antibiotic Resistance

Recent White House action aligns with the Pork Checkoff’s research vision and programs 

The National Pork Board applauds the White House action plan for combatting antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The Pork Checkoff, which is funded directly by America’s 62,000 pig farmers, could expand its existing research to address this growing consumer issue if the additional commitment of $1.2 billion is realized.

“Collaboration across our industry – from the farms to the dinner table – is critical,” said Chris Hodges, chief executive officer of the National Pork Board. “America’s pig farmers welcome this new federal initiative and are committed to continuous improvement to ensure responsible antibiotic use on the farm.

“Our industry pledges to go above and beyond simply complying with federal guidance,” Hodges added. “The Pork Checkoff has deployed millions of producer dollars to fund antimicrobial research for well over a decade and, as noted in the White House statement, is one of the leading agricultural organizations to lead research efforts. Any additional dollars earmarked for research could serve to address the risk posed to animal and human health by antibiotic resistant bacteria.”

The U.S. pork industry has previously funded studies conducted in support of the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) – a collaborative effort focused on improving animal and public health. Previous NARMS research has studied the epidemiology of antimicrobial resistance. Minimizing resistance is a long-standing priority of the Checkoff’s producer, public health and workplace safety programs.

Additionally, the Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA Plus®) program conducts on-farm assessments and provides guidance on best practices. PQA Plus participation includes mandatory veterinary oversight and compliance with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements to maintain current medical records on the farm.

The National Pork Board also shares its information and research with U.S. retailers and foodservice companies. Through this collaboration, the Checkoff underscores the safeguards already in place for antibiotic use in pork production and helps prepare these companies to provide information to inquiring consumers.

“We are working with our suppliers and regulatory agencies to assure antibiotics that are needed for animal health remain in place and are used under veterinary oversight,” said Joe Swedberg, vice president of legislative affairs at Hormel Foods.

Responsible antibiotic use – as demonstrated by a farmer working with a swine veterinarian – combined with proper diet and nutrition, access to fresh water, vaccinations, barn sanitation and biosecurity, all serve to protect pig health and promote food safety.

“We have always been focused on improving pork’s safety, quality and nutritional value,” Hodges said. “Keeping pigs healthy is an important facet of our work and an area where both consumers and pork producers can agree.”

Original release April 3 by


April 3, 2015

Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour is Back

The smoke is rising and the sweet fragrance of barbecue sauce is in the air, which means the country’s best barbecue teams and the Pork Checkoff are fired up for the Sam’s Club® National BBQ Tour.

“We’ve been involved with this great event from the beginning and are excited to see it grow every year,” said Rob Kirchofer, national marketing manager for the Pork Checkoff. “The National BBQ tour is a great opportunity to team up with Sam’s Club and the Kansas City Barbecue Society to offer pork samples and share pork’s story with thousands of consumers who attend each year.”

Since 2011, the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour has traveled the United States, region by region, searching for the year’s best in competitive barbecue. The tour has awarded $2.5 million in total prize money for the top teams. In 2015, teams must advance from one of 25 local qualifying events to the top tier of five regional events to qualify for the National Championship in October at Sam’s Club headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., and a chance to win the $50,000 grand prize.

More than 700 of the best barbecue teams in America will take pork to the next level for their shot at fame in the 2015 Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour. The competition provides plenty of inspiration for home cooks and amateur pit masters, as well.

“This tour offers something for everyone,” Kirchofer said. “While the teams are cooking for big money, people can learn new grilling tips and enjoy barbecued pork samples at live cooking demonstrations.”

Forget Ordinary BBQ

The Pork Checkoff is working with state pork organizations in select locations for the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour, including the finale event, to grill pork samples and hand out pork recipe brochures, coupons, meat thermometers and more.

“It’s fun to let people know what’s new and exciting with pork each year, from new pork names to the updated 145-degree cooking temperature,” said Kirchofer, who noted that this information will featured in all banners and signage on site. “The tour also gives pork producers an opportunity to be in front of consumers, which is always a good thing.”

The impact of these promotions is designed to last long after the National BBQ Tour ends for the season. “Our goal is to create awareness of pork’s possibilities and drive sales of fresh pork at Sam’s Club in the months to come,” Kirchofer said.

Original article by by 


April 2, 2015

Pork Checkoff Shares Research Review

The Pork Checkoff has released the March-April Pork Checkoff Research Review. The purpose of the review is to give producers a user-friendly way to learn more about research funded by the Pork Checkoff, what it means to the industry, and where to go if you want more information.

Below is a summary of the animal science research.

Study Name: Effects of PRRS Challenge on Pig Growth and Metabolic Pathways

Principal Researcher: Dr. Nicholas Gabler, Iowa State University

Key Points:

• Within a population, pigs handle a porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) challenge differently.

• Even though all pigs were infected with PRRSV, the low-growth rate pigs had a 26 percent reduction in average daily gain versus the high-growth pigs.

• Multi-variant blood analysis of these PRRS-infected pigs revealed dynamic changes over a 56-day challenge.

Summary: The goal was to characterize changes in blood metabolic and immunological parameters of pigs infected with PRRSV. Seventy-six gilts were selected and randomly assigned to one of four pens in a commercial finishing unit. Blood samples verified that all were PPRSV naïve. Body weights and blood samples were collected periodically. The 12 highest and 12 lowest growth rate gilts over the 56-day study were selected for multi-variant blood analysis. Serum was analyzed for 52 metabolites, 17 complete blood count and inflammatory traits on 0, 7, 14, 28 and 56 days post-infection (DPI). The analysis revealed no major differences in blood parameters between 0 and 56 DPI. However, during early stages of PRRS infection amino acid mobilization markers increased for immune protein synthesis and energy requirements, whereas in later stages we observed an increase in protein catabolism markers. Altogether, these results indicate dynamic changes in immune and energy requirements for pigs growing through a PRRS challenge. By understanding the changes or shifts in metabolism due to immune stress, we hope to develop management strategies to optimize pig performance during disease challenge.

To learn more, click here

Study Name: Effect of Regrinding Ingredients on Pellet Quality, Performance and Profitability

Principal Researcher: Dr. Mark Knauer, North Carolina State University

Key Points:

• Adding 30 percent dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) improved pellet durability.

• Regrinding soybean meal improved pellet durability, but regrinding DDGS did not.

• Neither regrinding DDGS nor the level of pellet fines impacted finishing pig performance.

Summary: Two experiments evaluated the effect of regrinding major feed ingredients on pellet quality and pig performance. The first study evaluated whether adding DDGS or whether regrinding soybean meal or DDGS improves pellet quality. Diets consisted of two DDGS levels, two DDGS particle sizes and two soybean meal particle sizes. Each batch was sampled to determine pellet quality, as measured by pellet durability index (PDI) and modified PDI, which was designed to simulate moving feed from the mill to the barn. For experiment No. 2, the goal was to determine if regrinding DDGS or reducing pellet fines improved finishing pig performance. This involved four treatments, with two DDGS particle sizes and two levels of pellet fines. Mixed sex pigs were housed in a curtain-sided, mechanically ventilated and slatted facility. Diets were delivered and pen feed intake recorded. In study No. 1, adding 30 percent DDGS to swine finishing diets improved modified PDI by 9.5 percent. Regrinding soybean meal improved modified PDI by 4.7 percent, but regrinding DDGS had no effect. In No. 2, neither regrinding DDGS nor the level of pellet fines impacted average daily gain, average daily feed intake or feed efficiency.

To learn more, click here.

Click here to access the online tool for finding Checkoff-funded research.


April 1, 2015

Pre-World Pork Expo Tours Offer a Broad View of Midwest Agriculture

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is offering two tours before the 2015 World Pork Expo opens that will provide visitors a unique opportunity to gain insights into U.S. agriculture. A two-day tour, set for June 1-2, will travel to locations in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa, showcasing hog, feed, bioenergy and equipment production. The one-day tour on June 2 will provide a look at modern swine production and food marketing, as well as agricultural research and product development. Both tours include meals on tour days, along with free, three-day admission to World Pork Expo, the world’s largest pork-specific trade show.

“The pre-World Pork Expo tours are a great way to gain a broad view of the many facets of U.S. agriculture and food production,” says Greg Thornton, NPPC director of producer services. “This year’s tours will cover a lot of ground — from feed milling to hog production, and pork marketing to energy production. Participants will gain a rich perspective of Midwest agriculture at the farm and beyond.”

Get a personal view of Midwest agriculture
Participants can join the two-day tour, which is underwritten by the Illinois Soybean Association, in either Des Moines, Iowa, on Sunday, May 31, or Chicago, on Monday, June 1. Monday will feature stops in Indiana at a Co-Alliance feed mill; Bio Town Ag, a pork and beef producer with an anaerobic digester to recycle animal waste; and Fair Oaks Farms, home of the Farmhouse Restaurant and The Pig Adventure, which showcases modern pork production. Day Two includes a visit to the John Deere Harvester Works in East Moline, Illinois, and a barge trip down the Mississippi River to observe grain-export activities along this vital waterway. After touring a Cargill commercial wean-to-finish swine barn, the group will dine at the award-winning Smokey D’s BBQ in Des Moines.

The one-day Central Iowa tour on Tuesday, June 2, includes visits to Kemin Industries’ research and product-development facilities, and the DuPont Pioneer Research & Development Center. Lunch will be served at the Lucky Pig restaurant in Ogden, Iowa, which is owned and operated by pork producer Craig Christensen. Other stops include a commercial wean-to-finish hog facility, a modern Hy-Veegrocery store for a look at the U.S. retail food sector, and dinner at the Machine Shed Restaurant, which has been featured on the Travel Channel.

“These pre-Expo tours are open to anyone, but in the spirit of World Pork Expo, they are an excellent opportunity for visitors from other countries to get an up-close look at the business of agriculture from the farm gate to the consumer’s plate,” says Ron Prestage, NPPC president and Camden, South Carolina, pork producer. “Tour participants also will enjoy the exhibits and seminars at World Pork Expo as they gain further insight into the latest products and technologies pork producers use to supply the world with nutritious, high-quality pork.”

Space is limited
The fee for the one-day tour, which can accommodate up to 30 people, is US$150 per person. The cost of the two-day tour, which has a maximum capacity of 54 and includes hotel accommodations for the night of June 1, is US$450 per person.

Both tours end at the Holiday Inn Des Moines-Airport, which is the World Pork Expo international headquarters hotel. Participants in the two-day tour can choose to board the bus at the Holiday Inn Des Moines-Airport on May 31, or join the tour June 1 at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Chicago-O’Hare. Included in the tour packages are bus transportation, three meals on tour days, exhibit fees and any biosecurity apparel required to visit the hog operations. Registration also includes a three-day pass to World Pork Expo, and access to free transportation between the international headquarters hotel and Expo grounds, June 3-5.

Find more information and register for a tour
For more details and to register for these tours, go to and select “Attendees” on the blue registration button. Then, scroll down to "Industry Tours."

The website also has the latest details about room availability at the official Expo hotels, a schedule of activities, and answers to frequently asked questions about traveling to World Pork Expo. Regular updates are available when you connect with World Pork Expo on Facebook, follow World Pork Expo on Twitter (@NPPCWPX, #WPX15), or download the official app by searching for “World Pork” in the Apple Store, Android Market or Blackberry’s App World.

World Pork Expo takes place June 3-5 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. Hundreds of commercial exhibits will be on display from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 3, and Thursday, June 4, as well as from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, June 5. The swine breeding stock sales will take place on Saturday, June 6, from 8 a.m. until they are completed (at approximately noon).

World Pork Expo, the world's largest pork-specific trade show, is brought to you by NPPC. On behalf of its members, NPPC develops and defends export markets, fights for reasonable legislation and regulation, and informs and educates legislators. For more information, visit

Original release on March 26 by National Pork Producers Council. 


March 31, 2015

Incentive to Expand Disappears

It doesn’t often happen, but four livestock economists were in agreement on Friday afternoon following release of USDA’s first-quarter Hogs and Pigs Report. In a teleconference hosted by the National Pork Board and funded by the Pork Checkoff, analysts felt the report was close to what was anticipated, which means there are plenty of pigs in the pipeline.

Steve Meyer, president of Paragon Economics gave an overview of the report, which showed a tremendous rebound from a year ago, when many producers were dealing with Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv).

All hogs and pigs on March 1, 2015 was estimated at 65.9 million head, up 7.2 percent from a year ago but down slightly from Dec. 1, 2014. Market hog inventory, at 60 million head, was up 8 percent from last year.

The December 2014-February 2015 pig crop, at 28.8 million head, was up 9 percent from 2014. This is “precisely the number predicted by analysts,” says Meyer. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 2.83 million head, up 2 percent from 2014.

Featured during the call were Chris Hurt, Professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University; Robert Brown, independent market analyst from Edmond, Okla.; and Dan Vaught, senior livestock economist with Doane Advisory Services, St. Louis, Mo.

Hurt: Breeding Herd a Little Bigger

Chris Hurt first addressed the breeding herd. “The theme this winter has been, ‘Where did all the pigs come from?’” he says. “There was more expansion going on than USDA picked up in the December report, but a little less than anticipated.”

Regarding litter size, he says the numbers return the industry “close to expectations, with no PEDv influence at all.

“The impact of PEDv was relatively small this winter, which is very encouraging from a production standpoint. That we took on this disease and reduced its impact says a lot for the industry,” he says.

Farrowing intentions are in line with the breeding herd, with an even a lower reduction of 2 percent going into the Jun-Aug quarter.

“Bottom line, the industry is seeing just modest expansion of the breeding herd and that’s a little bit of comfort on overall supplies,” notes Hurt.

Brown: Numbers Revised Slightly Up

Bob Brown says the June-Aug. pig crop was revised up by about 868,000 head, from minus .1 percent to plus 1.8 percent and the December inventory was revised up by about 95,000 – “Not much compared to the huge increase they added to the June-Aug. numbers,” he says.

Vaught: Not a Surprise

Dan Vaught says, “Here’s what this means short-term: The weight break-down for 180 and over as of Mar. 1 implies the March slaughter will run 9 percent over a year ago. That matches what we’ve been seeing the last few weeks.”

He says that for the two mid-way categories, the numbers decline a little bit, “but by Independence Day, we’ll be up 9 percent over year-ago rates.

“Going forward, it depends on March-May litter size. We’re getting into the upper trend as far as farrowing rates go, and we’re 8-10 percent over last year,” he says. Regarding estimates for 2016, he says, “Who knows at this point – it’s pretty early.”

What About Slaughter Capacity?

Meyer does a survey with packers every spring and he doesn’t anticipate many changes relative to a year ago. “There were a couple of changes last year but right now the 5.4 days/week slaughter capacity is just over 2.5 million per week. I don’t think we’ll have many numbers over that,” he says.

A new plant in Michigan won’t be in service until late 2017 at the earliest. “We might be a little tight this fall for a few weeks,” he cautions.

Price Estimates

Using a live weight basis, Hurt estimates prices around $54 for the second quarter; $55 for the third quarter and $50 for the fourth quarter, with an average for the year of $52.

Brown uses carcass lean value, with second quarter at $71; third quarter at $75 and fourth quarter at $66, all much lower than a year ago.

Vaught also uses the CME index carcass base. He estimates second-quarter prices at $72 and third quarter prices to come in around $74.

When asked about breakeven prices, Hurt says his estimate on cost of production (including all costs, family labor and full depreciation), is about $70. Producers were making about $53 above cost of production a year ago, and hit $70 profit during the third quarter last year.

It won’t be close to that this year. “We’re going to be pretty much at breakeven,” he says. “I estimate about $10 below [cost of production] for the first quarter; $4 below for the second quarter and for the third and fourth quarter, $5-10 above cost of producer per head. The incentive to expand has been sharply curtailed.”

One factor that’s helping, however, is feed cost. At about $3.30/bu., corn is at the lowest level since 2010, he says, and bean meal is close to 2011 prices. If weather impacts crop production this summer, it’s sure to have a very negative impact on pork producers.

Original article on March 27 by Pork Network.


March 30, 2015

NPPC’s Hill Testifies at House Ag Committee Hearing on Importance of Trade

Dr. Howard Hill, a pork producer and veterinarian from Cambridge, Iowa, who is chairman of NPPC’s Trade Policy Committee, Wednesday testified on behalf of NPPC before the House Agriculture Committee on the benefits of trade to agriculture. Hill stressed the importance of trade to U.S. pork producers and urged lawmakers to expeditiously approve Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). He noted that the United States ran a deficit in pork trade until it started negotiating Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). Because of trade agreements, the United States is now the top exporter of pork in the world, sending more pork to the 18 U.S. FTA partners than to the rest of the world combined. NPPC also pointed out in its written statement that the 18 FTA nations collectively have a positive impact on the U.S. balance of trade. TPA legislation was expected to be introduced early in 2015, but Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., so far have not been able to come to an agreement on the language of the bill. TPA defines U.S. negotiating objectives and priorities for trade agreements and establishes consultation and notification requirements for the president to follow throughout the negotiation process. Once trade negotiators finalize a deal, Congress gets to review it and vote yes or no – without amendments – on it. Congress has granted TPA to every president since 1974, with the most recent law being approved in August 2002 and expiring June 30, 2007. The key reason TPA is needed, Hill pointed out in his testimony, is for concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations among the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries. U.S. TPP partners will not get to their best and bottom line offer until Congress passes TPA. Hill cited Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes in saying that the potential TPP deal represented the most significant commercial opportunity ever for U.S. pork producers, generating more than 10,000 pork industry jobs. To read NPPC’s written testimony, click here.

Original article on March 24 by NPPC.


March 27, 2015

USMEF Helps Asian Buyers Evaluate New Cuts

Twenty-five major Asian importers, retailers and restaurateurs assembled in Tokyo last week to evaluate more than two dozen new-to-market U.S. beef and pork cuts. Funding for this activity was provided by the Pork Checkoff, The Beef Checkoff and the USDA Market Access Program (MAP).

U.S. packer representatives based in the region – including those from Cargill, JBS, National Beef and Tyson Foods – joined the event, in addition to key Japanese buyers and end-users. Six pork cuts and 22 beef cuts were included in cutting demonstrations and tastings conducted at the seminar. Commercial boxed samples of the new items were also displayed, allowing buyers and end users to observe specification and packaging options.

“It is imperative that we intensify our effort to maximize carcass utilization by diversifying our export portfolio," noted USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “This is exactly the type of event that moves us toward that goal."

Buyers have been actively seeking alternative cuts as prices of items traditionally exported to Asia, such as short plate and short ribs, have skyrocketed over the past year due to surging regional demand and constrained U.S. supplies.

"Because of the affordability of the items featured at this seminar, we believe they offer potential to displace products supplied by our competitors," added Seng.

USMEF forecasts that available beef supplies for Asia will tighten this year, as herd rebuilding begins in Australia and any increase in U.S. supplies remains a year or more away.

Items cut and sampled at the seminar included beef clod hearts, beef loin wing, plate finger, pork sirloin ends and brisket bones. Professional Japanese retail merchandiser Kemi Nobuhide conducted the cutting demonstration and led a discussion on the attributes of these cuts. He explained how each of these cuts can be merchandised into tasty and affordable Asian menu items such as shabu shabu, yakiniku and ton-teki (pork steak).

Participant feedback on the seminar was very positive.

"The Korean and Chinese markets compete more and more for supplies of certain, popular cuts,” said Pillhyun Nam of Janghara Meat, a long-time importer of U.S. beef. “We need to examine new cuts."

In emerging markets such as Vietnam, cost is the key driver of demand.

"We supply U.S. beef to the growing Korean barbecue scene in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City,” said Chu Quyet Tien of Tien Tien Company. “Customers of popular family-style chains are sensitive to menu prices, so we need to have more options in order to keep U.S. beef strongly featured on our menu."

USMEF also presented U.S. beef and pork market updates to the group, with a particular focus on the increasing affordability and outstanding value offered by U.S. pork. Prior to the seminar, the Asian buyers group observed U.S. beef and pork featured at Tokyo retail outlets. The group was joined by USMEF staff from the Asia-Pacific region, who assembled earlier in the week to discuss regional marketing plans and assess the outlook for U.S. beef, pork and lamb exports to the region.

Original article on March 25 by U.S. Meat Export Federation.


March 26, 2015

Vaught: Large Hog Slaughter May Reflect Active Farmer Marketings

Last week, we reminded readers that hog slaughter typically declines substantially from late winter into early summer. There can be little doubt that forthcoming totals will easily top those from last year, but last week’s 10 percent annual disparity could be the largest difference seen before mid-to-late summer. That is, slaughter rates fell sharply (to 2.024 million head) in early-March 2014, then stabilized over the following six weeks. Kills didn’t fall below 1.91 million head/week (down 1.6 percent) last year, until the week ending May 24. In contrast, the 10-year average implies a 6.1 percent slaughter decline during that same span.

We also think market-ready hog supplies are tightening somewhat. Iowa-Southern Minnesota pigs averaged 284.0 pounds/head last week, which marked a 1.0-pound annual increase. That compares to a 4.6-pound difference during the first week of February. We still expect weights to drop below year-ago levels by late March and to fall 2-3 pounds under 2014 readings by late April. Again, hog farmers are moving their hogs more quickly in order to reduce costs and earn better prices, since nearby April futures continue trading at discounts to the latest spot quotes. Summer futures are hardly promising big returns either.

This certainly doesn’t imply a shortage of hogs and pork, but supplies will almost surely diminish seasonally. Conversely, resurgent demand is the factor bulls have to hope will power hog and pork values higher during the second quarter. The strength of that buying will very likely determine the size of the anticipated price rally.

Editor’s Note: Dan Vaught is a livestock economist for Doane Advisory Services, St. Louis, Mo. Doane distributes a number of timely, relevant newsletters to farmers that contain expert commentaries and market advice. For more information, call 314.569.2700 or go to:

Original article on March 25 by Pork Network.


March 25, 2015

Little Caesars Launches New Pizza

Little Caesars has devised a brand new way to feed the public's obsession with bacon: wrapped around the pizza crust.

More specifically, 3 1/2 feet of bacon wrapped around the pizza crust.

The innovative budget pizza chain unveiled plans to nationally roll out on Feb. 23 the Bacon Wrapped Crust Deep! Deep! Dish Pizza. At $12, the limited-time offer will be one of Little Caesars' priciest pizzas.

"Every time you take a bite out of the crust, you'll get bacon," says David Scrivano, CEO at Little Caesars. The pizza also comes with pepperoni and has bacon sprinkled on top. The promotion replaces the chain's Soft Pretzel Crust Pizza.

"Like many food makers and food sellers, Little Caesars is looking for a new way to cash in on the nation's continued infatuation with all things bacon. Domestic bacon sales have climbed for five consecutive years, recently hitting the $4 billion mark, reports research specialist Information Resources. Bacon has shown up in recent years in everything from sundaes at Burger King to milkshakes at Red Robin." – USA Today

NPB is engaged with the Menu Development/Innovation Team at Little Caesars to monitor and expand on their usage of pork on the menu.


March 24, 2015

Senators Say Keep Meat in Diet; Petition Backing Meat Launched

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators told the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services that contrary to recommendations provided by a committee to review U.S. dietary guidelines, lean red meat plays a key role in a healthful diet.

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune, R-S.D., and 29 of his colleagues Thursday sent a letter to USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack and HHS Sec. Sylvia Burwell, calling on them to stay within statutory guidelines, consider the most relevant nutrition scientific literature and reject the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s inconsistent conclusions and recommendations on the role of lean red meat in a healthful diet. The letter also requested an extension of the 45-day comment period to ensure stakeholders have enough time to review and comment on the lengthy report.

National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) criticized the recommendations related to meat in the diet from the advisory committee when they were issued last month. The recommendations will be used by USDA and HHS to create the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

In their letter, the senators said, “We are concerned about this committee’s suggestion to decrease consumption of red and processed meats ... this statement ignores the peer-reviewed and published scientific evidence that shows the role of lean red meats as part of a healthy diet ... we have strong concerns with the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee going beyond its purview of nutrition and health research to include topics such as sustainability. We encourage you to carefully consider the most relevant nutrition scientific literature and reject the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee's inconsistent conclusions regarding the role of meat in Americans’ diets as you finalize the Dietary Guidelines.”

In a related matter, the North American Meat Institute initiated a petition, urging USDA and HHS to keep meat in the diet. Click here to sign the petition.



March 23, 2015

Group offering event to learn more about GMOs

Members of the Kansas Farm Food Connection (KFFC) will host an evening discussing the topic of genetically modified ingredients Fri., April 17 at River Market Event Place in Kansas City, Mo.GMOs: Now We’re Talking will provide an opportunity for conversation, education and fun.

“The topic of genetically modified organisms or GMOs is fraught with misinformation and fear,” Meagan Cramer, co-director of communications for Kansas Farm Bureau, says. “We’ll spend the evening hearing from experts including a mom with a Ph.D. in genetics, a couple who farms in Kansas, a chef, and a blogger who learned not everything you read or watch is bathed in truth.”

The evening will start at 6 p.m. with a social and appetizers. Chef Charles d’Ablaing, executive chef at the Raphael Hotel, will provide a chef demo to attendees. At  7 p.m., a panel discussion will cover the ins and outs of GMOs. They include:

•         Dr. Anastasia Bodnar, board member of Biology Fortified, Inc.; an independent 501(c)(3) that aims to encourage conversations about agriculture, biotechnology, food and related subjects.

•         Bob and Mary Mertz, owners of  River Creek Farms in Manhattan, Kan.

•         Angela Muir, blogger at Handmade in the Heartland, who will provide her perspective on how she navigates the various information sources on this hot topic.

•         Chef d’Ablaing, executive chef at the Raphael Hotel, who celebrates all types of agriculture.

“We know there are people with questions about today’s food system and GMOs especially,” Cramer says. “This is a great opportunity to enjoy good food and drink while learning about a topic many of us are unsure of.”   

To learn more and reserve a seat, visit

The mission of Kansas Farm Food Connection is to share the exciting story of Kansas agriculture by connecting farms to families and families to farms to learn, eat and grow together. To learn more, visit or Facebook.


March 20, 2015

KPA Sponsors Premier High School Chef Competition

On March 3-4 the Kansas Pork Association and others teamed up with the Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association Educational Foundation (KRHAEF) for this year’s fourteenth Annual Kansas ProStart Invitational. The event was held at the Double Tree by Hilton at the Wichita Airport. More than 100 students representing high schools from across the state demonstrated their mastery of restaurant leadership skills. This year’s theme was “Anything you can chop, I can chop better.”

“These young adults represent the future of our industry.” said Neely Carlson, KRHA’s vice president of education and training.  “The ProStart Invitational is an opportunity for students to showcase industry skills they learn in the classroom while vying for awards and scholarship money.  The students have the opportunity to network with industry leaders and learn the skills necessary for a long-term career.”

The Kansas ProStart Invitational is a highlight of the Restaurant Management Program (ProStart) curriculum sponsored by KRHAEF. Each year, the event grows and allows students to compete in two major categories — each of which requires intensive culinary and management skills.

Winners of the 2015 Kansas ProStart Invitational include:


1st – Olathe Public Schools, Team Edasia

2nd – Olathe Public Schools, Team A ‘Rever

3rd – Maize High School, Team Ice

4th – Wichita Heights High School

Each team in the culinary event had one hour to demonstrate their creative abilities by preparing a three-course meal that was then judged by professionals from the foodservice industry. Teams are evaluated on taste, teamwork, safety and sanitation, among other skills.  First place Team Edasia from Olathe will move on to compete at the annual National ProStart Invitational to be held on April 18-20, in Anaheim, CA.


1st – Olathe Public Schools

2nd – Wichita Northwest High School

3rd – Wichita Heights High School

Teams participating in the management competition were tested on their communication skills, as well as their ability to apply their knowledge of the restaurant and foodservice industry by developing a business proposal for a new restaurant concept. The first place team from Olathe will also move on to compete at the annual National ProStart Invitational.

While the culinary and management competitions qualify the winning teams for a spot at the National ProStart event, there are several additional competitions that allow other students to showcase their skills and talents.

Edible Centerpiece

1st  –  Olathe Public Schools, Angelo Pei

2nd  –  Olathe Public Schools, Aylah Cadwell

3rd  –  Olathe Public Schools, Jose Rios-Rico

4th  –  Garden City High School,  Marissa Hernandez

Students in the edible centerpiece competition demonstrate their creative abilities by carving fruits and vegetables to create an edible work of art.

Best Pork:  Eudora High School, Team Endor

Best Beef:  Wichita Heights High School

Top Knife Cuts 

Noah Edkin - Maize High School

Corie McGowen – Olathe Public Schools

Brock McMillian – Campus High School

About KRHA

The Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association, founded in 1929, is the leading business association for restaurants, hotels, motels, country clubs, private clubs and allied business in Kansas. Along with the Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association Education Foundation, the association works to represent, educate and promote the rapidly growing industry of hospitality in Kansas. For more information about the KRHA, visit

About ProStart

ProStart provides aspiring restaurateurs and chefs an in-depth assessment of the food and beverage industry. Designed for high school juniors and seniors, students must pass two comprehensive exams and complete 400 internship hours during the course of the curriculum. Those who successfully complete these programs can earn national certificates and qualify for scholarships to continue their education.


March 19, 2015

Virtual Kansas Dairy Farm Tour Goes Live on YouTube

In celebration of Ag Day and Ag Month, the agricultural organizations in Kansas partnered together to launch a virtual tour of a dairy farm. The video, which has been posted on the KSRE YouTube channel, features a Kansas dairy farm and can be used as an educational tool for classrooms and organizations statewide.

For the event, three fifth grade classes from Norton, Williamsburg and Leon were virtually transported to Steve Strickler’s dairy farm near Iola, Kansas. 

The students began the virtual tour by watching a pre-recorded video tour of Strickler’s farm. Strickler then visited with the students about life on a dairy farm. The students were then able to ask questions and interact with Strickler and his herdsman, Harry Clubine to gain a better understanding of Kansas agriculture.

The virtual farm tour is part of Kansas Ag Month celebrations to highlight the agriculture industry in Kansas and encourage involvement of the Neighbor to Neighbor Food Drive, happening around the state to help our neighbors in need. Special thanks are given to the Neighbor to Neighbor partners including Dillon’s stores statewide, Kansas Food Bank, Second Harvest and Harvester’s.  Those interested in making a cash donation may do so in Dillon’s stores or online at  Donations made online are directed to the local food distribution organization of the donor’s choosing.

The dairy industry in Kansas continues to grow and expand. There are more than 300 Kansas farm families who take great care of their animals to provide wholesome, nutritious dairy products. Kansas dairies produce more than 336 million gallons of milk, annually.

A certain highlight of the virtual dairy tour for the students was the treat of milk and cookies at the conclusion of the presentation provided by the sponsors of the Ag Day celebration.

KDA encourages the watching and sharing of this virtual farm tour. You can access the video here:

Please direct any questions regarding the video or Kansas Agriculture Day to


March 18, 2015

KPA Supports Ag Month Activities

On March 6, the Kansas Pork Association teamed up collegiate group Food For Thought, Dillon’s Stores and other agricultural groups to support the Neighbor to Neighbor Food Drive by hosting a booth the Dillon’s Store in Manhattan. Grocery shoppers were encouraged to donate at least three items to the Neighbor to Neighbor Food Drive and in return, received a $5 off pork shoulder coupon.

“The $5 off pork shoulder coupon is a great way for Kansas pork farmers to give back to those who are making a difference in our Kansas communities by donating food to the Neighbor to Neighbor Food Drive,” stated Jodi Oleen, Director of Consumer Outreach.

The food drive is a collaborative effort by the Kansas Department of Agriculture, Dillon’s Food Stores, Harvester’s – The Community Food Network, Kansas Food Bank, Second Harvest Community Food Bank and the Kansas agriculture community.  The goal is to raise 85,000 meals for Kansas families during the food drive, Mar. 1 – Mar. 31. Kansans can contribute to the campaign at Dillon’s Food Stores statewide, at other community locations across the state or through the virtual donation portal,


March 17, 2015

Pork Act Delegates Elect Candidate Slate, Approve Advisements

The pork industry held its annual business meeting, the National Pork Industry Forum, March 5-7 in San Antonio. At the meeting, Pork Act Delegates ranked nine candidates for the National Pork Board and submitted the list to the U.S. secretary of agriculture. The candidates, ranked in order, are:

• David Newman, North Dakota

• Patrick FitzSimmons, Minnesota

• Carl Link, Ohio (second term incumbent)

• Bill Tentinger, Iowa

• Gary Asay, Illinois

• Kristine Scheller-Stewart, Missouri

• Thomas Goodwin, Idaho

• Michael Gruber, Texas

• Ed Keller, New York

The U.S. secretary of agriculture will select six members from the slate elected by the delegates to fill the roles of outgoing board members effective July 2015. Five of the nominees will serve a three-year term, and the sixth will complete a two-year term due to a recent departure. There are 15 pork producers on the board, each limited in serving no more than two terms.

Delegates also elected three members to the Nominating Committee, which recruits and screens candidates for the National Pork Board. Members of the Nominating Committee are not approved by the secretary. In other business, delegates approved two non-binding directives for the National Pork Board. The approved motions read:

• Premises ID: The National Pork Board encourages all producers and veterinarians to work with their veterinary diagnostic laboratory service providers to adapt and use methods that electronically incorporate premises identification numbers into all of their diagnostic lab records to enhance the systems of traceability and animal health information management infrastructure necessary to support the 21st century U.S. pork industry.

• Transportation and Biosecurity:  The Minnesota Pork Producers Association recommends that the National Pork Producers Council, National Pork Board and North American Meat Association cooperatively address issues around transportation and bio-security. Items to be addressed are as follows, but not limited to:

   o Trucking schedules and wait times

   o Truck unloading/animal handling

   o Biosecurity

Reports on the two advisements will be delivered at the 2016 Pork Forum.

The National Pork Board has responsibility for Checkoff-funded research, promotion and consumer information projects and for communicating with pork producers and the public. Through a legislative national Pork Checkoff, pork producers invest $0.40 for each $100 value of hogs sold. Importers of pork products contribute a like amount, based on a formula. The Pork Checkoff funds national and state programs in advertising, consumer information, retail and foodservice marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, technology, swine health, pork safety and environmental management. For information on Checkoff-funded programs, pork producers can call the Pork Checkoff Service Center at (800) 456-7675 or check the Internet at


March 16, 2015

Disinfectant Expands Options to Fight PEDV

Pork producers have another tool in their battle against Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) - accelerated hydrogen peroxide® (AHP®) disinfectant, sold under the brand name Accel®. This comes from a recent study funded by Pork Checkoff and conducted at Iowa State University that found the disinfectant inactivates PEDV even in the presence of feces found in swine trailers.

According to Lisa Becton, DVM, Pork Checkoff’s director of swine health information and research, a real key to the study was the fact that it mimicked harsh, real-life conditions. The take-home message from the study is that when washing, disinfecting and drying a trailer is not possible, there is an alternative. An AHP disinfectant at a minimum 1:32 concentration, in a 10 percent propylene glycol solution, with 40 minutes of contact time is an effective option to reduce the risk of PEDV transmission between pig groups.

“The gold standard to defend against PEDV is still to thoroughly wash, disinfect and dry livestock transport vehicles,” Becton said, “but the more we know, the wider range of options producers have for effective control.” To read more click here.


March 13, 2015

Kansas farmers, guests support families at ‘Meet the Makers’ event

Members of the Kansas Farm Food Connection (KFFC) gathered with dietitians and food bloggers at the Culinary Center of Overland Park, Kan., March 5 for an evening of good food and conversation.

KFFC hosted this “Meet the Makers” event to encourage an exchange of ideas between farmers and consumers.  Farmers at the event grow soybeans, sorghum and corn, and raise beef or dairy cattle on family farms.

“There’s a widening gap between farm and non-farm families today,” said Ron Grusenmeyer, regional director of industry relations at the Midwest Dairy Association. “We need to listen to consumers and share our stories with them.” 

At the event, farmers and their guests worked together to prepare home-cooked meals for Ronald McDonald Charities of Kansas City, which serves 87 families a night.

The mission of Kansas Farm Food Connection is to share the exciting story of Kansas agriculture by connecting farms to families and families to farms to learn, eat and grow together. To learn more, visit or Facebook.


March 12, 2015

Colorado, Kansas & Nebraska Continue Cooperation with Water Agreement

Republican River Compact Adjustments to Further Benefit Basin Water Users

Reflecting the continued spirit of cooperation, Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska, along with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, have reached an agreement that will ensure more certainty to the basin’s water users in both Nebraska and Kansas. The agreement, signed through the Republican River Compact Administration (RRCA), was achieved through collaborative negotiations that began in January 2015 and will provide timely access to water for the 2015 irrigation season.

The agreement provides additional flexibility for Nebraska to achieve its Compact obligations while ensuring Kansas water users’ interests are also protected. The additional flexibility allowed the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources to open Nebraska reservoirs and water user’s rights that were initially limited in 2015. Opening the Nebraska water rights allowed the Bureau of Reclamation to agree to modify certain contract provisions for its irrigation districts, ensuring the availability of the water that was pumped from Nebraska augmentation projects for RRCA compliance. 

Additionally, the agreement allows for the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources to ensure no additional regulatory water supply reductions for Nebraska surface water irrigation user’s water supplies for the 2015 irrigation season.

Current RRCA Chairman Jim Schneider, Acting Director of the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, said, “This is a significant step forward for the states and our water users. Our collaborative work and this agreement further demonstrate the benefits of the recent cooperation that the states have been able to achieve. I am optimistic that the states and Bureau of Reclamation can work toward ensuring these types of arrangements can be in place each year so that both Nebraska and Kansas water users will secure the benefits of having more certainty in their water supplies.”

Kansas Commissioner David Barfield said, “Today’s agreement continues to move us forward toward a longer-term solution benefiting the basin’s water users. I appreciate not only Nebraska’s continued willingness to work through these issues, but also the Bureau of Reclamation and its irrigation districts for their part in reaching today’s agreement.”

Colorado Commissioner Dick Wolfe said, “These recent agreements are emblematic of the new cooperation among the states and the federal government. I hope it continues to be a model for cooperation and successful settlement of the remaining issues within the basin.”

At the Nov. 19, 2014, meeting in Manhattan, Kansas, the states reached an agreement that provided Nebraska with 100% credit for water delivered from augmentation projects to Harlan County Lake prior to June 1, 2015, and dedicated that water to be used exclusively by Kansas irrigators.

The RRCA is comprised of one member each from the States of Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska. The purpose of the RRCA is to administer the Republican River Compact. This Compact allocates the waters of the Republican River among the three states. The next RRCA meeting is scheduled for August to be hosted in Lincoln, Nebraska.


March 11, 2015

Pig Farmer of the Year Award Focuses on Consumer Trust

Outstanding pork producers have one thing in common: they cultivate customer trust every step of the way. The Pork Checkoff’s new America’s Pig Farmer of the YearSM award program will honor the U.S. pork producer who best excels at raising pigs using the We Care ethical principles and wants to share this with consumers.

“The public is the main audience, rather than our own industry, because that’s who has questions about how we raise pigs,” said Brad Greenway, vice president of the National Pork Board and chairman of the Stewards Task Force, which oversaw creation of the new program. “Producers demonstrate the We Care ethical principles on their farms every day, and the new award is a unique way to share that with the public.”

Announced during its 2015 Pork Industry Forum meeting in San Antonio on March 6, America’s Pig Farmer of the Year opens its six-week nomination window on April 1. The program builds on many elements behind the successful 20-year run of the now-retired Environmental Stewards Award program.

The intent is to establish the America’s Pig Farmer of the Year winner as a practical expert in pig handling and pork production.

“Consistent with the National Pork Board’s new strategic plan, we want to build consumer trust through on-farm transparency and accountability,” said Dale Norton, National Pork Board president and producer from Bronson, Mich. “The focus is on environmental sustainability, along with animal welfare, production efficiency, the adoption of best practices and a commitment to continuous improvement.”

Celebrity Judge Touts New Award 

To help build awareness and momentum for the new program and the We Care ethical principles at its core, the National Pork Board has teamed up with Iowa farmer and TV celebrity, Chris Soules. He also will serve as a judge to help select the eventual winner of the new award.

“I’m honored to be a part of the America’s Pig Farmer of the Year award program,” Soules said. “As farmers, it’s our responsibility to tell our story to audiences outside of rural America, especially in the big coastal cities so that they can learn how their food is raised by farmers who care about their animals and are committed to improving every day. This award format will help us do that.”

According to Norton, Soules’ participation in the new award provides a unique opportunity. “This partnership will help us encourage producers to apply for the award and will help us reach consumer audiences with the real-life stories of how American pig farmers raise pigs today in an ethically responsible way.”

A panel of third-party judges will help determine the final award recipient, which will be announced during National Pork Month in October. The public will also be engaged during the final judging process via the Pork Checkoff’s social media outlets. Short video clips of the finalists will be displayed at, where people can vote for their favorite. 

“I encourage producers to consider applying or to encourage other producers who would be great candidates to do so,” Greenway said. “This new award will showcase what we do best – raise pigs in an ethical, responsible and transparent way.”

All U.S. producers are welcome to apply April 1 to May 15. More details are available at or via the link on

Original article on March 9 by


March 10, 2015

FARMLAND Available at Walmart Stores March 3rd

Academy Award®-winning filmmaker James Moll's feature-length documentary, FARMLAND, will be available on DVD beginning Tuesday, March 3rd, at Walmart and The availability of the documentary at retail locations across the country and online, provides another opportunity for viewers to experience the film, which offers a firsthand glimpse inside the world of farming by showcasing the lives of six young farmers and ranchers in their twenties.

FARMLAND premiered in theaters across the country in spring 2014, and now, beginning March 3rd, is available on hard disk for rent and purchase at Netflix, Amazon, select retail outlets and via On Demand platforms.

DVDs of FARMLAND will be for sale at select Walmart locations and on beginning March 3rd for $9.96. The documentary is also now available to rent on DVD from Netflix and to purchase on Amazon, with continued availability for rent and purchase via digital download on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Blockbuster On-Demand, Sony PlayStation,, Xbox and YouTube.

"We are thrilled at the ongoing distribution success of FARMLAND," says Moll. "The availability of the film at retail locations and online will give even more people the opportunity to watch and experience the firsthand accounts from the film's young farmers and ranchers."

During its theatrical debut in 2014, FARMLAND was shown in more than 170 theaters across the country including Regal Cinemas, Marcus Theatres, Carmike Cinemas, Landmark Theatres, and many key independent theaters. The film was also featured at film festivals in Atlanta, Cleveland, Nashville and Newport Beach, Calif.

Produced by Moll's Allentown Productions, FARMLAND was made with the generous support of the U.S. Farmers &amp%