Pork Expo Returns

Jun 11, 2021  | 4 min  | Ep4643

Domestic grown pork headed for export helps that side of the ledger. But the amount of product ready for shipping is in doubt as slower line speeds could return following a judge’s ruling to reverse a request for an increase in speed.

The issue of line speeds along with trade were just two of the big topics discussed this week in a homecoming of sorts in Iowa.

Peter Tubbs reports.  

The World Pork Expo returned to Des Moines, Iowa after a two year hiatus, but the list of challenges facing the pork industry remains long..

Jen Sorenson, President, National Pork Producers Council: “We have a high hog market. We have strong U.S. domestic demand. We've got strong export markets. Now it's not all roses. We've got some higher grain costs that push up our feed costs and that's 70 percent of production. So we still have to mind our P's and Q's on our spend.” 

While China remains the largest export market for American pork, consuming 28 percent of the seven billion pounds the U.S. exports each year. The industry is searching for increases in smaller markets to diversify the portfolio. 

Jen Sorenson, President, National Pork Producers Council: “We have to go after those small wins and those small countries all the way from Jamaica to our Asian Pacific region.”

Nick Giordano, National Pork Producers Council: “We'd like to go back to a more expansionist trade agenda in the United States that wasn't really the standard operating procedure of the last administration. It, isn't certainly in the early part of this new administration, very important to us, but, you know, you gotta take what you can get, right? Like we'd love Trade Promotion Authority to be renewed. We would love the U.S. back and CP TPP, right? We'd love the punitive tariffs in China to come off. Right. And we're making our views known to the administration, to members of Congress on those things. But, you know, what's really attainable and where can we work collegially and positively with this administration?”

While expanding export markets will continue to support prices, the American consumer has rediscovered the joy of cooking at home.

Neil Dierks, CEO, National Pork Producers Council:”...the only good thing about COVID is consumer stayed home and they had to buy meat at the store. I know the national pork board was just overwhelmed almost with requests for recipes, because guess what people had to learn how to cook again. And suddenly they found out that it really isn't that difficult and they can make products that are really tasty and nutritious for their families.” 

As the economy of households is improving, clouds are on the industry horizon. Producers are worried about new production standards that will have to be met in order to comply with California’s Proposition 12, which goes into effect in January, 2022. NPPC officials believe adhering to Prop 12 will be detrimental to U.S. pork producers.

Jen Sorenson, President, National Pork Producers Council: “... I think I don't like production practices that aren't based on sound science, that aren't based on, you know, what farmers know about great animal care and great production and efficiency and sustainability and Prop 12 takes us backwards in all of those areas.”

The spectre of possible domestic disease outbreaks, like African Swine Fever, has the medical side of the national organization laying out its plans.

Liz Wagstrom, Chief Veterinarian, National Pork Producers Council: “You know, the biggest questions we get from farmers is if it hits, ‘what are the rules going to be for my, my farm? Am I going to be able to have feed delivered? Am I going to be able to buy semen?”

Despite the challenges, the return of the Expo has helped the industry reconnect.

Neil Dierks, CEO, National Pork Producers Council: “I have had so many people saying, ‘thanks for having this. We needed to see each other.’ (edit) I would in one word, describe it as ‘joy.’”

For Market to Market, I’m Peter Tubbs.  Twitter:  @PeterTubbs

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