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Articles from 2017 In December

Influenza’s impact on your bottom line

Economic losses from influenza can total more than $10 per head

Between the emergence of new, difficult-to-control viral strains and their endemic presence in many swine populations in the United States and around the world,1 Influenza A virus in swine (IAV-S) is a growing threat to the industry.

IAV-S is one of the top three diseases affecting pigs in all phases of production,2,3 and nowhere are those effects felt more sharply for producers than in their bottom line.

A study that looked at losses associated with average daily gain, culls and mortality rates among pigs with IAV-S estimated that the virus, when present alone, cost producers $3.23 per head.4

IAV-S attacks the cells that line the respiratory tract of pigs. It weakens their first line of defense against subsequent respiratory infections, leading to concurrent infections that impact both pig performance, including mortality and culls, and the cost of production.

Concurrent infections also compound the economic losses from IAV-S. For example, the same study determined that producer cost associated with pigs challenged with uncomplicated porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) was $5.57 per head. However, when IAV-S was present with PRRS, production losses actually grew to $10.41 per head, not $8.80, and mortality, culls and tail enders increased significantly (p<0.05) to 4.34 percent over baseline.4 Similarly, uncomplicated Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae cost only $0.63 per head, but when present with IAV-S, that number jumped to $10.12.4 Unfortunately for most producers, these concurrent infections are all too common.

“It’s not common to find IAV-S by itself in swine,” says Christa Goodell, DVM, MS, PhD, DACVPM, technical manager at Boehringer Ingelheim. “More often, it’s going to be present with other diseases in the porcine respiratory disease complex. So, you have multiple respiratory pathogens affecting pigs at the same time, which can make diagnosis and treatment extremely difficult.”

Another study that factored in added veterinary costs from IAV-S in combination with production losses estimated that IAV-S infections in conventional health commercial herds cost the producer $10.31 per head, with 64 percent of that attributed to production losses and 36 percent to vet costs.5 That study also found significant increases in mortality rates among pigs with IAV-S compared to those without.5

Knowing the significant impact Influenza A virus in swine can have on production and ultimately the bottom line, Dr. Goodell recommends following prudent IAV-S health management measures including critical on-farm biosecurity protocols to minimize exposure and endemicity in your herds. To learn more, talk to your veterinarian or visit


1USDA APHIS. Swine disease information. Available at: Accessed August 17, 2017.

2USDA APHIS, VS, NAHMS. Swine 2012, Part II: Reference of swine health and health management in the United States, 2012. February 2016.

3Vincent AL, Perez DR, Rajao D, et al. Influenza A virus vaccines for swine. Vet Microbiol 2017;206:35–44.

4Dykhuis Haden C, Painter T, Fangman T, Holtkamp D. Assessing production parameters and economic impact of swine influenza, PRRS and Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae on finishing pigs in a large production system, in Proceedings. 43rd American Assoc Swine Vets Annu Meet 2012;75–76.

5Donovan, T. Influenza isolate selection methodology for timely autogenous vaccine use, in Proceedings. Amer Assoc Swine Vet Conf 2008;551-561.


Renwick FFA

Max profiles Renwick FFA, Andale, Kan., a new chapter that formed in 2017. The program encompasses two high schools. Member Abbie Schwab shares what members are learning about leadership during the 2017 FFA Convention.

The weekly FFA Chapter Tribute is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the good work of your local chapter. Tell us about what you're doing, give us some history from your group and tell our viewers of the work you do in the community. FFA chapters across the country deserve recognition for the work they do, make sure we include yours.

To have your chapter considered for this weekly feature, send along information about your group by e-mail to Orion Samuelson at or to Max Armstrong at They'll get your group on the list of those that will be covered in the future. It's a chance to share your story beyond the local community. Drop Orion or Max a "line" soon.

The National FFA Organization, formerly known as Future Farmers of America, is a national youth organization of about 650,000 student members as part of 7,757 local FFA chapters. The National FFA Organization remains committed to the individual student, providing a path to achievement in premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online, on Facebook at, on Twitter at

'Sonny Sez'

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue shares his vision of USDA and what he wants the department to be for those that engage the agency. The key phrase is "customer focus."

Samuelson Sez is a weekly feature on This Week in Agribusiness, offering viewers insight, and commentary, on key agriculture topics of the day. You can contact Orion at

This Week in Agribusiness - December 30, 2017

Note: Start the video and all parts will play through as the full show

Part 1

Orion Samuelson and Max Armstrong are taking a look back, and a look forward, in this final episode of 2017. Max talks with Farm Broadcaster Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net, Columbus, Ohio, about how the year went in that part of the country. Agricultural Meteorologist Greg Soulje offers a look at the year in weather.

Part 2

Max Armstrong continues the year-end roundup talking with Farm Broadcaster Brian Winnekins, WRDN Radio, Durand, Wis., who discusses the pressures facing dairy producers in that state. In the FFA Chapter Tribute, Max profiles Renwick FFA, Andale, Kan., a new chapter that formed in 2017. The program encompasses two high schools. Member Abbie Schwab shares what members are learning about leadership during the 2017 FFA Convention. And Ag Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks ahead to the weather of 2018.

Part 3

Max Armstrong talks with Steve Bridge, WFMB Radio, Springfield, Ill., shares the surprise farmers had in his part of the country when combines rolled. Farm Broadcaster Von Ketelsen, KCIM Radio, Carroll, Iowa, shares what farmers in that part of the country found when combines rolled - higher yields.

Part 4

Max Armstrong turns the show over to Orion Samuelson who engages his annual tradition of his talk with the Secretary of Agriculture. Sonny Perdue took over the position nine months ago, but shares how he learned about the potential of being appointed to this position. And he discusses his work with President Trump and some key challenges of interest to farmers.

Part 5

Orion Samuelson continues his conversation with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, this time with a look at the Farm Bill. Perdue offers his perspective on the key issues for that measure including crop insurance and its future. And Perdue discusses the Trump administration approach to regulation.

Part 6

Orion Samuelson continues his conversation with Secretary Perdue who shares that he started as a veterinarian but went into agribusiness and eventually into politics. Perdue talks about his travels in his first year in the job. He also talks about the opportunity in agriculture for young people. And he shares his thoughts on ag and trade.

Part 7

And this week's show wraps up with "Sonny Sez" as Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue takes over for Orion Samuelson in a special segment of Samuelson Sez. Perdue shares his vision for the Department of Agriculture and a key phrase is "customer focus."


Max Armstrong talks lake-effect snow and what that means to folks near the Great Lakes. From This Week in Agribusiness, the price of corn has basically gone nowhere in 2017; and he looks at what happened with soybean and wheat prices as well. Max shares the story of a farmer saved from a grain entrapment. And there's a look at new laws in Illinois that go into effect Jan. 1, which he shares as an example of what others may see too.

Midwest Digest is a twice-daily audio feature produced by Max Armstrong, offering news and commentary from across the Midwest.

Photo: Willie Vogt


Max Armstrong looks at the long-term view for these freezing temperatures, though he offers some warm spots listeners could consider visiting. Max shares that winter weather has also caused airline delays too. Max remembers Rose Marie, who played Sally on the Dick Van Dyke Show, and an interesting tidbit from her early life - she says she knew Al Capone.

Midwest Digest is a twice-daily audio feature produced by Max Armstrong, offering news and commentary from across the Midwest.

Photo: Andrew Burton

Farm Progress America, December 29, 2017

Max Armstrong shares his insight on the big stories for 2017. He looked how key crops fared including corn, soybeans and cotton. Max offers production figures for those crops including the records hit in a challenging year. And he looks at other challenges including dicamba concerns, low prices and trade issues.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

Photo: marekuliasz/iStock/Thinkstock

Hogs & Pigs Report: As expected, but futures higher

National Pork Board Finishing pigs in a pen

USDA’s quarterly Hogs and Pigs report released Dec. 22 once again pointed to larger hog supplies in the coming year. Current hogs and pigs inventories were very close to analysts’ expectations, but front-end CME Lean Hogs futures prices reacted very favorably to the report.

The positive price action was more likely due to a favorable Cold Storage report, also released on Dec. 22, that indicated pork stock drawdown over twice as large as the November average of the past five years. Total pork stocks amounted to 504.975 million pounds on Nov. 30, 2.7% lower than one year ago. Cuts with lower stocks than one year ago were hams (-7.5%), picnics (-23.7%), ribs (-9%), loins (-10%) and variety meats (-39%). That big reduction in variety meats stocks (to a level just marginally different from the lowest Nov. 30 of the past five years) is, I think, important. The total drawdown says that demand was definitely good in November.

Remember that production was record large so a big reduction in frozen stocks means that a lot of product moved. The variety meat reduction tells me that the big hero might well be exports. We won’t know about November domestic demand until the actual November export data are available Jan. 8.

Key national data from the Hogs and Pigs report appear in Figure 2.

Some highlights are:

• The breeding herd on Dec. 1 was pegged at 6.179 million head, 69,000 (1.1%) larger than one year ago and the largest since March 2008. The increase represents a continuation of the growth trend that dates back to June 2010.

• USDA also made some very unusual revisions of the breeding herd. They increased the breeding herd estimate for each of the past four quarters by from 20,000 to 40,000 head or 0.33% to 0.66%. Note that these revisions increase the average rate of growth from 0.7% per year from 2010 through March 2016 to 1.2% from June 2016 to date. See Figure 3. USDA has historically only revised market hog inventories, the pig crop and farrowings to account for differences between inventories and slaughter. A number of industry observers have questioned these practices. Only time will tell whether this is a new USDA paradigm but we think it is a positive step. It’s hard to believe that USDA gets the breeding herd right every quarter when other numbers do not jive with subsequent slaughter.

• Every other inventory number in the report — market herd and all weight categories — were record large for December, but were hardly different from the average of pre-report estimates. We would not categorize 2% year-on-year growth as modest but it certainly wasn’t a shock given the numbers we have seen this year. The figures imply slaughter growth of roughly 2% through the next two quarters.

• Farrowings and farrowing intentions came in sharply higher than analysts had, on average, expected. But we think this is a good thing as USDA has consistently under-shot farrowing intentions over the past three years. This 2.1 to 2.8% increase fits the growth of the breeding herd pretty well and, we think, will prove to be more accurate than USDA’s intentions estimates of the recent past. This could very well be another “recalibration” of the USDA estimates such as we saw one year ago when USDA’s pig crop and inventory estimates were significantly higher than those of the analysts after significant underestimates over the previous three years.

• Farrowings, the pig crop and pigs saved per litter were all record high in the September-November quarter. U.S. producers continue their remarkable productivity progress and we see no end in sight. While farrowings per breeding animal cannot increase much more, litter size and thus the pig crop certainly can and we think that growth will push hog supplies in the second half of 2018 4 to 5% higher than in 2017.

Figure 4 shows our quarterly forecasts as well as those of Iowa State University and the Livestock Marketing Information Center. It does not appear that LMIC is adjusting for the one additional slaughter day in the fourth quarter of 2018. Figure 5 shows price forecasts for 2018.

One curious item of this report was the reaction of CME Lean Hogs futures. The Hogs and Pigs report is usually released after trading hours and most often on a Friday. That practice allows market participants to digest the report at least until the next day and usually until the next Monday before taking any action in the futures market. This release was the same as last year — on the last Friday before Christmas while the market was still open. Like last year, nothing happened for several minutes. That is not a surprise for this report as it was pretty much as expected. If anything, we thought higher-than-expected farrowing intentions would put some pressure on deferred contracts. But nothing happened for about 15 minutes.

Then the nearby contracts gained about 40 cents before pausing for roughly 12 minutes and then gaining another 50 to 55 cents. They drifted about 40 cents lower over the next 15-18 minutes before rallying once more by 50 cents 10 minutes or so before the noon Central close. Contracts from February through June gained $1.35 to $1.70 for the day. July through December gained $0.30 to $0.93.

This is the second straight quarter in which a mildly bearish report has seen almost immediate price gains for Lean Hogs futures. Comparing actual numbers to pre-report estimates has suggested little change in prices and says that if prices would change, they would move lower. Clearly the Cold Storage report was a positive driver for this report but was it enough to justify $1.70 or more on the nearby? Is demand so strong that a neutral report is actually viewed by the trade as bullish? Or are the pre-report estimates somehow out of touch with the sentiment of the people actually trading futures? We believe the first two factors were certainly at play. A sample size of two is insufficient to conclusively judge the third.