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FFA Chapter Tribute - October 8, 2016: Paoli FFA, Paoli, Ind.

Over a Cup - October 8, 2016 : Hurricane Matthew, drought years, and rainfall

Over a Cup

Stormy picture could be worse

If you’re in the U.S. hog industry, you know there have been better times to be raising pigs and producing pork.

Current hog prices have producers with memories thinking back to 1998, and disease pressures are always in the back of producers’ minds. One flare-up could doom expected increasing production numbers. Though the current overall climate is casting a dark cloud over the entire swine industry, keep in mind the cloud could be even darker.

Residents and hog producers in the southeastern U.S. are preparing for effects of Hurricane Matthew as it drives north up the Atlantic coast. According to the Weather Channel, “Hurricane Matthew’s eyewall continues to brush parts of Florida’s northeast coast with high winds and storm surge flooding, and will spread those impacts, in addition to potentially serious rainfall flooding into Georgia, South Carolina and southern North Carolina through at least Saturday night.”

Matthew’s impending arrival has North Carolina pork producers taking precautions in preparation of the potential heavy rains and strong winds. According to the Sampson Independent,  this isn’t farmers’ first go-around with a hurricane. North Carolina Pork Council Chief Executive Officer, Deborah Johnson, told the Sampson Independent, “Our farmers have faced several strong hurricanes in the past. They know what to expect and understand the importance of being prepared ahead of time. Farmers are putting emergency action plans into effect to protect their employees, their animals and farms.”

Though the exact path that Matthew will take remains to be seen, producers are taking action to deal with potential issues.

♦ To prepare for potential power outages, farmers have tested on-farm generators to ensure they are in proper working order and secured adequate fuel to power those generators and other vital operational equipment.

♦ In case deliveries are interrupted by the storm, feed bins will be well-stocked and provisions made for other essentials necessary for the well-being of their animals.

♦ To prepare for heavy rains, farmers are monitoring animal waste management systems and applying fertilizer to dry cropland in accordance with approved nutrient management plans. Farmers carefully manage lagoons throughout the year to maintain adequate storage to accommodate heavy rains.

Once again, the dedication and the commitment of the U.S. hog producer shine brightly through the dark clouds of even a hurricane. Caring for the livestock under their watch is of utmost importance to them. 

Keep your fellow hog producers from the U.S. southeast in your thoughts and prayers this weekend as they brace for Matthew’s arrival, and next week and beyond as the recovery and cleanup will occur.

Though the current market situation is hard to stomach, most of us don’t have a hurricane knocking on our doors to compound the situation.

Hidden optimism: America’s pig farmers tread ahead

Hidden optimism: America’s pig farmers tread ahead

John Weber, NPPC President

Since feed costs have been so affordable, U.S. pork producers have experienced some level of profitability despite the gradual decline in hog prices. As a result, there is an enthusiasm to run at full capacity and look at expansion, notes John Weber, Iowa hog farmer and National Pork Producers Council president.

The large supply of hogs is unquestionably a combination of suitable production fundamentals — production efficiency picking up, low disease pressure and moderate expansion. That is exactly what is bringing extra pigs to the market.

“We are now approaching our packing capacity, and it could be difficult months ahead. We actually expect not seeing a price recovery until the month of January to create that competition for a healthy marketplace,” says Weber.

However, lower hog prices will stir demand.

“When meat prices decline, it makes more affordable protein sources for American consumers and it also, despite the headwinds, makes us more competitive in the overseas markets. We have been facing a strong U.S. dollar for almost two years and very stiff global competition,” says Weber. “Lower prices will move product globally and domestically.”

Background optimism
Nevertheless, hog producers are treading ahead with their heads held high, knowing there are better days ahead.

America’s pig farmers are fully aware of the necessity to gain market access around the world and the importance of trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. They are all in and eager to supply delicious, safe pork to the global customer. Weber says, “I call it hidden optimism. They are really not afraid to pull the trigger on expansion, thinking there will be better markets in the future.”

Hog producers, such as Weber, and their supportive association are working diligently to increase U.S. pork market access, including securing positive trade deals such as TPP, to legitimately growing markets around the globe. Weber stresses, “TPP is for the next generation of pork producers.”

Currently, the approval of TPP by U.S. Congress is in a holding pattern. Weber, joined by 130 hog producers from 20 states, took to Capitol Hill last month, urging for a TPP vote this year.

While NPPC leadership anticipates a TPP vote in the lame-duck session, the presidential election is impacting the free trade agreement dialogue. “I have never seen a presidential campaign, period, where trade was the front and center issue. The country faces a whole host of issues, but trade was there every time they spoke,” Weber points out.

He adds, “Where we sit today is both presidential candidates (Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton) are leaving question marks about U.S. trade and how competitive we want to be in a global marketplace. I think a lot of it is political rhetoric, trying to persuade voters. It has really shed an unusual light on normal legislative activity.”

As a result of political pressure being placed on Congressmen to stay in line with their parties on this issue, lawmakers who usually support and lead the charge on trade are missing in action on TPP.

In the remaining weeks of the presidential election campaign, NPPC is still confident in the approval of TPP. Weber says, “When you talk to people, the majority realize the importance of trade to the U.S. economy.

“We are going to keep beating that drum to the very end. In the last 30 days, we have tried to lift the bar and tell our Congressmen that we still want TPP. It is a good deal for agriculture and the U.S. economy.”

Since TPP is a legacy issue with the Obama administration, NPPC still thinks the vote will happen this year.

Unfortunately, Weber notes that the other 11 countries involved are waiting on the United States to pull the trigger on TPP. They are closely watching the U.S. presidential election campaign and the legislative action. He says, “We know the other countries want us to pass it, and I think it will then pass in all the other countries immediately.

“All 11 countries are pork-consuming countries in a big way. It is access to over half billion new consumers. These economies are progressive and growing. You cannot just ignore that,” Weber further explains. “I personally do not think you can isolate yourself away from that type of market. I think it would be a financial disaster not only for your own personal operation but for the country in general.”

Although U.S. pork producers have not banked on TPP passage at this point, they look forward to it. For now, their background optimism will fuel the effort to reduce trade barriers and open future markets.

NPPC is the voice of the hog producers, and the organization is going to continue to work hard for the industry. Weber concludes, “I wish economic times were better for producers. When frustration occurs, we (NPPC) like to hear from producers to help them get through this period. We certainly look forward to better times ahead.”

NPB’s Even sees opportunity in pork industry

NPB’s Even sees opportunity in pork industry

National Pork Board Chief Executive Officer Bill Even was just one of the many dignitaries on hand as South Dakota State University christened its $7.4 million Swine Education and Research Facility north of Brookings Oct. 1, to kick off National Pork Month.

Before joining the NPB on June 6, 2016, Even led DuPont Pioneer’s global industry relations team and a North America Commercial Business Unit. From 2007-10, immediately prior to joining DuPont Pioneer, Even served as South Dakota’s Secretary of Agriculture.
He and his family own and operate a fifth-generation diversified crop and livestock operation near Humboldt, S.D., where they raise corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa and cattle. The farm was homesteaded in 1883 by his great-grandfather, and Even began farming in 1983. He and his wife, Janell, have three children.

After the SDSU swine unit dedication ceremony, Even talked Pork Month, pork business and the swine industry.

National Hog Farmer: As we enter National Pork Month, what are your thoughts of the U.S. pork industry?

Bill Even: The U.S. pork industry is growing, which presents some challenges along with new opportunities. There will be volatility in the market as people and business realign, but it’s much better to be in an expanding industry than in one that’s contracting. Today, we are at South Dakota State University in Brookings celebrating the opening of new swine research and production facility, and it’s a great day to be in the pork industry.

NHF: What does this new swine facility at SDSU and others like it mean to the U.S. swine industry?

Even: This new facility serves three key purposes. First, the reinvestment in the South Dakota State University’s pork production facilities will help educate students, which is critically important in a growing industry. We need a workforce trained in up-to-date facilities using today’s production techniques. Second, research that will be conducted in these facilities will play a crucial role helping the pork industry grow even more going forward.

And third, the facilities allow consumers to view pigs being raised — while maintaining the farm’s biosecurity — to help demystify pork production. SDSU designed this facility to reach beyond the students and the people raising the pigs, by opening its doors to the public. Many issues the pork industry faces such as siting, the environment or animal welfare, can be managed better simply by educating consumers by letting them see firsthand the good care America’s farmers take in raising pigs.

NHF: Recent falling hog prices present challenges to producers, but fortunately the price of feed commodities have also fallen. How do you see this scenario playing out for the industry?

Even: The ag industry is cyclical. Our family’s fifth-generation crop and livestock farm here in South Dakota deals with the same price and production cycles as everyone else. So, with expected record pork supplies, the Pork Checkoff is initiating an integrated marketing campaign to help boost sales. Stepping up marketing efforts will help retailers feature pork and ultimately help producers as we move through the large pork supplies.

To enhance those efforts, we recently restructured our domestic marketing department to get a fresh, aggressive focus on both domestic and international pork marketing. It’s our job to open doors and create opportunities. We also continue to expand U.S. pork exports, with people around the world enjoying and experiencing U.S. pork. For January through June, U.S. exports accounted for 25% of U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports, accounting for $48.34 per head.

NHF: What is your Pork Month message?

Even: October Pork Month provides the opportunity to celebrate pork and the nation’s pork producers while helping consumers make the farm-to-fork connection. We want to remind consumers that the nation’s pig farmers are committed to following the We Care ethical principles in their barns and to producing safe, high-quality pork. With the large pork supplies, we also want consumers to know that pork is a good value in the meat case, making it a good choice, both for holiday meals and everyday. 

Recently, we worked with retailers on expanding ham purchases outside of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays by promoting it as an everyday meal. We were just in Dallas, Texas, this week to meet with major national grocery retailers to discuss the great marketing opportunities for pork. With the large pork supplies, the good news for retailers and pork producers alike is that consumer pork demand has remained strong.

NHF: America’s Pig Farmer of the year will be named next week. What does that person, that position, mean to the U.S. pork industry and the American consumer?

Even: While consumers trust pig farmers, they increasingly are asking how their food is raised. This annual award helps put a face on pig farming, which is important with most consumers two or more generations removed from the farm. The winner is dedicated to doing what’s right for people, pigs and the planet on his or her farm and is passionate about sharing that message. The award allows us to celebrate the great care and integrity that the winner and the nation’s other pork producers take in caring for their animals and their communities.

Showcasing that individual and his or her family for a year helps share pork’s story and connect with our customers. We encourage all producers to join the conversation with consumers. Producers can speak up for pork as Operation Main Street speakers, through social media using #RealPigFarming or by becoming the next America’s Pig Farmer of the Year. It’s important for pig farmers to be transparent, sharing what they do and why on their farms in order to continue to build trust with consumers.

Pork exports reach highest monthly values of 2016

August was a strong month for U.S. red meat exports as beef export volume was the largest in nearly two years and both beef and pork exports posted the highest monthly values of 2016, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

August beef export volume climbed 27% from a year ago to 106,818 metric tons — the highest since October 2014, breaking the 100,000 mt mark for the first time this year. Export value was $566.8 million, up 14%. For January through August, export volume was up 6% to 747,706 mt, while value was down 7% to just over $4 billion.

Exports accounted for 13.5% of total beef production in August and 10% for muscle cuts only — each up about 1 percentage point from a year ago. For January through August, these ratios were roughly steady with last year at 13% and 10%, respectively. Export value per head of fed slaughter was $256.73 in August, down 4% from a year ago, and $252.50 for January through August, down 12%.

Pork exports were up 16% from a year ago to 186,689 mt, the largest volume ever posted in August. Export value was up 19% to $512.76 million. For January through August, pork export volume was 1.48 million mt, up 5% from the same period last year. Export value moved 1% ahead of last year’s pace at $3.78 billion.

With August pork production at the largest level so far this year and record-large for the month of August, exports accounted for 24% of total production and 20% for muscle cuts only — up slightly from a year ago. For January through August, exports accounted for 25% of total pork production and 21% for muscle cuts, roughly steady with last year. Export value per head slaughtered was $49.36 in August, up 7% from a year ago and exceeding last year’s average for the third consecutive month. For the first eight months of the year, per-head value averaged $49.37, down 1%.

Variety meat exports provided a strong boost to the August totals for both beef and pork. Beef variety meat exports were up 25% from a year ago in volume (to 31,582 mt) and 28% in value (to $85.8 million). Pork variety meat exports were 44,563 mt valued at $88.2 million — up 44% and 51%, respectively.

“U.S. livestock producers deserve some good news in what has been a tough year, and this upward trend in exports is very encouraging,” says Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “Currently U.S. beef and pork are very competitive, as the production of our key competitors — Australia and the European Union — has moderated and prices have jumped. As U.S. competitiveness continues to improve, we remain optimistic that exports will maintain positive momentum through the end of this year and into 2017.”

Pork exports rebound in Mexico and Japan; volumes stay strong to China/Hong Kong
Pork exports to Mexico continued to show improvement in August, easily reaching 2016 highs in both volume (64,620 mt, up 8% from a year ago) and value ($129.3 million, up 17%). For January through August, exports to Mexico were still down 6% in volume (444,170 mt) and 2% in value ($808.3 million), but gained ground on last year’s pace.

Chilled pork exports to Japan have been on a record pace all year (up 14% year-over-year to 147,000 mt) but a slump in frozen volumes has held back overall results. With chilled pork continuing to perform well in August and frozen exports rebounding, exports to Japan climbed 25% from a year ago in volume (35,154 mt) and 27% in value ($151.2 million). Through August, exports to Japan were down 8% in volume (258,495 mt) and 6% in value ($1.03 billion).

Other January-August export results for U.S. pork included:
♦ Exports to China/Hong Kong remained well ahead of their 2015 pace, with export volume up 76% in volume (370,238 mt) and 61% in value ($711.8 million). China/Hong Kong’s pork imports from all suppliers remain higher year-over-year, but have slowed from the peak levels seen earlier this year. Imports are expected to continue to moderate this fall but there are indications that buying could trend upward again prior to Chinese New Year.

♦ While pork exports to Korea remain down from last year’s large totals in both volume (87,739 mt, down 28%) and value ($231.7 million, down%), exports trended strongly upward in August and are well-positioned for a strong finish in 2016.

♦ Led by mainstay markets Honduras and Guatemala and strong growth in Nicaragua, U.S. pork continues to have a big year in Central America, with volume up 18% from a year ago to 41,947 mt. Export value was 11% higher at $99 million.

♦ Exports to Canada remained slightly ahead of last year, up 2% in volume (131,104 mt) and 1% in value ($522.9 million).

Beef exports record-large to Korea, Taiwan
August beef exports exceeded year-ago levels in most major markets, setting new monthly records in South Korea (17,454 mt, up 61% from a year ago) and Taiwan (4,965 mt, up 23%). For January through August, market-specific highlights for U.S. beef included:

♦ Japan was the leading market in both volume (170,665 mt, up 16% from a year ago) and value ($984.2 million, up 9%), including strong growth for high-value chilled muscle cuts and beef tongues.

♦ Despite the persistently weak peso, exports to Mexico increased 8% from a year ago in volume (154,376) while falling 9% in value ($649.6 million), led by larger volumes of shoulder clods and rounds.

♦ In Korea, the increasing popularity of U.S. steaks — especially at retail — helped drive exports up 28% from a year ago in volume (107,855 mt) and 11% in value ($628.8 million).

♦ U.S. beef holds more than two-thirds of the chilled beef market in Taiwan, where exports increased 6% in volume (25,872 mt) while falling 3% in value ($213.5 million).

♦ Expanded access has created new opportunities for U.S. beef in Indonesia, where exports grew four-fold in volume (4,278 mt) and more than doubled in value to $18.6 million. Along with solid growth in Vietnam, these results drove exports to the ASEAN region 11% higher in volume (15,160 mt) while value fell 9% to $83.8 million.

Complete January-August export results for U.S. beef, pork and lamb are available from USMEF’s statistics web page.

Hotsy introduces Hog Manure Treatment Product for fast reduction of odors

Hotsy has expanded its product line to include Hog Manure Treatment Product, providing hog farmers with a solution for the reduction of strong manure odor, harmful gases and solids build-up in manure pits and lagoons. HMTP is not a bio-active treatment.

Important points about HMTP
♦ By chemically influencing the anaerobic digestion process causing it to slow or suspend, a minimum release of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide occurs. Because the ammonia and hydrogen sulfide do not gas off, the manure slurry contains a higher level of nitrogen increasing the value of the manure. Likewise, the ammonia and hydrogen sulfide is not present to irritate the hogs’ respiratory system, eyes and skin, resulting in improved health and more comfortable herd with less stress and activity. Besides the improved health, this also has a direct, positive impact of feed conversion rates

♦ Manure crusting provides the perfect environment for flies to lay their eggs and create a massive population of larva that turn into a massive population of flies. HMTP breaks down solids and crusting resulting in a significant reduction of flies that can carry diseases, irritate pigs and workers and attract birds that also carry disease. This combined with easier, more-efficient, pump-outs translates into significant savings for the hog farmer as well.

♦ Hog farms generate tremendous levels of odors which can easily travel 15 to 20 miles, resulting in many hog farms coming under attack from local communities, citing the Clean Air Act. Manure storage facilities pose threats from toxic gas inhalation, asphyxiation and infection. By using HMTP, farmers can experience an immediate improvement in air quality for themselves and the pigs.

Biosecurity is a serious issue for farmers, and regular cleaning of vehicles and equipment helps prevent cross contamination of the pig stock. Hotsy delivers a comprehensive cleaning solution to hog farmers with Hotsy high-pressure washers, Vital Oxide disinfectant, detergents and foaming equipment, making sanitation and biosecurity efforts easier and more effective. Visit for more information.

Huvepharma and GlobalVetLINK continue VFD partnership

Huvepharma and GlobalVetLINK announced today their plans to continue their partnership for GVL’s electronic Veterinary Feed Directive System, FeedLINK.

Huvepharma and GVL have collaborated for several years, and the companies will continue to work together to ensure that all label information and instructions for Huvepharma products requiring a VFD or vet prescription will be complete and accurate in GVL’s system for the upcoming rule changes in January.

“At Huvepharma we pride ourselves on our ease of doing business. Our continued partnership with GlobalVetLINK on their FeedLINK and now their ScriptLINK system, streamlines our business processes even more, making it that much easier to satisfy our customers’ needs,” says Dustin Toliver, marketing and customer service manager at Huvepharma.

FeedLINK provides a tool for veterinarians, feed distributors and producers to manage VFDs in a 21 CFR Part 11 compliant online software platform. GVL has provided FeedLINK as the industry’s electronic VFD solution for more than 10 years producing over 30,000 VFDs. Patent-pending GVL SmartEngine technology guides users through VFD creation to allow only approved label information, helping to ensure VFDs are accurate, complete and compliant.

“FeedLINK builds drug label requirements into the VFD creation process, so it’s essential that we continue to work with animal health companies like Huvepharma for accurate and complete information,” says Cliff Smith, GlobalVetLINK chief executive officer. “For more than 10 years, the industry has trusted GVL’s complete VFD management solution, and we’re confident that veterinarians, feed distributors and producers can continue to rely on us for help with compliance.”

Huvepharma is one of several other animal health companies partnering with GVL for VFDs.

GlobalVetLINK offers complete herd health management solutions for the food animal industry, simplifying management of VFDs, Certificates of Veterinary Inspection, diagnostic results and analysis, as well as veterinary prescriptions through its online platform. GVL SmartEngine technology helps ensure animal health documents are accurate, complete and compliant.

Learn more about GlobalVetLINK at

Zoetis calls on veterinary students to apply for scholarships

Zoetis Inc. is partnering with the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges to invite second- and third-year veterinary students in the United States and the Caribbean to apply for the 2017 Zoetis Veterinary Student Scholarship Award.

Each scholarship is $2,000 and applicable to the 2017-18 school term. Interested students can apply at VETVANCE, a free online resource for veterinary students and recent graduates, through Nov. 30.

“Zoetis has always been committed to meeting the unmet needs of veterinarians, and that includes helping aspiring veterinary students as they pursue their passion and profession,” says Christine Jenkins, chief veterinary medical officer at Zoetis. “We receive many letters from the Zoetis Veterinary Student Scholarship winners each year and we are amazed to hear how these scholarships have enabled them to achieve their DVM degree.”

Eligibility criteria include academic excellence, financial need, diversity, sustainability, leadership and career interest. Scholarships will be awarded to students in all areas of professional interest, including food animal medicine, small animal clinical medicine, research, government services, public health and organized veterinary medicine.

“The AAVMC is proud to help prepare new generations of veterinarians as they pursue a promising career,” says Andrew Maccabe, AAVMC chief executive officer. “Our long-standing relationship with Zoetis has enabled us to award scholarships to many exceptional veterinary students through the years — and give them the financial support to pave their path for success.”

Now in its seventh year, the Veterinary Scholarship Award operates as part of Zoetis Commitment to Veterinarians, a platform created by Zoetis to support leadership and diversity among future veterinarians, while also helping to offset the significant costs associated with a veterinary education.

According to the AAVMC, the median debt of indebted graduates of U.S. colleges of veterinary medicine was $156,583 in 2015 — a 5.5% increase over 2014. To date, Zoetis’ program has awarded over $5.2 million in scholarships to more than 2,400 students such as Shireen Zoghadari of Colorado State University’s class of 2018. “Zoetis’ commitment to veterinarians translates to veterinary students as well. The scholarship they awarded to me helped fund externships to further my veterinary education that would have otherwise been financially out of my reach,” Zoghadari says.

To learn more about the Zoetis Veterinary Student Scholarship Award or to apply for a scholarship, register at or visit to get started.