The 2013 Iowa Pork Congress, which took place in Des Moines this week, was a good place to get an idea about issues that are top-of-mind for Midwestern pork producers this winter. I sat down for a few minutes with outgoing Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) President Bill Tentinger, a farrow-to-finish producer from Le Mars, IA, during the show to find out what Iowa producers were discussing at the meeting.
Not surprisingly, Tentinger says the gestation stall issue tops the list. “I think that is going to be an ongoing discussion for some time,” he relates. “Producers are talking about it, but a large majority of producers don’t quite know what to do with that issue yet.” Several producers shared their experiences from moving from stalls to pens during a seminar held during the meeting.
Iowa pork producers are also concerned about country- of-origin labeling (COOL)  and the potential impact it could have on pork exports. “With 28% of our product being exported, that’s a big deal. I like to remind people that Mexico is our number two export market and Canada is number three. This situation has the potential to be a huge setback and financial drain for our industry. It’s a serious topic,” Tentinger says.
On-farm animal welfare audits  were on the discussion list during the IPPA delegate meeting, too. “It appears some of the packers are starting to require on-farm audits. Producers would like to make sure that these audits are of a uniform type,” Tentinger says. “There is some concern that a producer that ships to multiple packers might end up having to participate in a number of different audits, with different reporting mechanisms and different requirements.” The IPPA passed a resolution asking packers to work toward uniform and consistent audit requirements consistent with Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus), Transport Quality Assurance (TQA) and PQA Plus site assessments when developing their own animal well-being audit programs.
Other issues of concern to IPPA members during the meeting included animal handling challenges posed by packing plant shutdowns, labor availability issues related to immigration policies, school lunch requirements and the proposed Iowa Voluntary Nutrient Management Reduction Strategy Plan.
Would Tentinger’s list of pork industry “hot topics” match your list? What pork industry topics are on your mind during the winter of 2013? Share your thoughts in the “comments” section here or email [email protected] . Read more about Tentinger’s operation  in the January 2013 issue of National Hog Farmer .