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Brazil agrees to lift ban on U.S. pork

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The U.S. and Brazil have agreed on steps to be taken to lower trade barriers on pork, wheat and beef. 

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro during his visit this week with President Trump announced that Brazil would lift its ban on U.S. pork. Brazil agreed to science-based conditions to allow for the importation of U.S. pork. The National Pork Producers Council has argued that Brazil was using “unscientific mitigation requirements and other sanitary issues” not based on science to keep U.S. pork out of the Brazilian market.

In a joint statement Trump and Bolsonaro also announced Brazil will implement a tariff rate quota, allowing for the annual importation of 750,000 tons of American wheat at zero tariff. Brazil was the fourth largest market for wheat imports in the 2017-2018 marketing year.

Regarding Brazilian beef, the U.S. agreed to “expeditiously schedule” a technical visit by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to audit Brazil’s raw beef inspection, as soon as it is satisfied with Brazil’s food safety documentation.” 

USDA continues efforts to prevent ASF
Last week USDA along with U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized 1 million pounds of Chinese pork trying to enter the U.S. illegally. This was part of USDA’s ongoing efforts to prevent African swine fever from entering the U.S.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has updated its website to help the public understand ASF and additional information on steps that can be taken to help protect U.S. pigs.  The information can be found at

USDA has taken proactive steps in its efforts.  They include:

  • Working with CBP at ports of entry, paying particular attention to cargo, passengers and products arriving from China and other ASF affected countries.
  • Increasing detector dog teams with CBP to sniff out illegal products at key U.S. commercial sea and airports. Additional beagles have been trained and placed at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson and Chicago's O'Hare airports.
  • Collaborating with states, industry and producers to ensure everyone follows strict on-farm biosecurity protocols and best practices (including for garbage feeding in states where that is allowed).
  • Restricting imports of pork and pork products from affected countries.
  • Coordinating closely on response plans with the U.S. pork industry, producers and states to be ready should a detection ever occur in the United States.
  • Expanding the testing capabilities and testing capacity of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network.

NPPC said, “Preventing the spread of African swine fever to the United States is our top priority. We are thankful to CBP and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their increased vigilance and the expanded resources they have put in place to prevent ASF’s spread to the United States, a development that would threaten animal health and immediately close our export markets at a time when we are already facing serious trade headwinds.”

Ag groups oppose administration’s budget cuts
A group of nearly 200 agricultural organizations announced their opposition to the administration’s proposed cuts to agriculture as recommended in President Trump’s fiscal year 2020 budget. They called on Congress to reject calls for additional cuts in programs under the jurisdiction of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees.

In a letter to the Senate and House Budget Committee leadership, the organizations reminded them that the 2014 farm bill made a significant contribution of $23 billion to deficit reduction. Also, the 2018 farm bill is budget neutral and is estimated to cost less than the 2014 farm bill. 

The group said, “There is no doubt that farm country and the economies of agricultural-based rural America are hurting. While USDA forecasts farm income will rise nearly 10% in 2019, that level is still down 44% from 2013. In addition, farm debt and debt-to asset ratios are climbing, bankruptcies are on the rise and retaliatory tariffs weigh on farm prices and erode our competitiveness in key export markets.” 

Those signing the letter included the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Farmland Trust, American Seed Trade Association, Ducks Unlimited, Farm Credit Council, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Farmers Union, National Pork Producers Council, The Fertilizer Institute and USA Rice.

Source: P. Scott Shearer, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

MORNING Midwest Digest, March 22, 2019

NOAA is predicting floods to continue through May.

Miller Coors has filed a lawsuit against Anheuser Busch over high fructose corn syrup.

Minnesota-based Red Wing Shoes has opened a store in Midtown Manhattan. 


Photo: LoveTheWind/Getty Images

SDSU students open barn doors on how pigs are raised

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I’m a fan of FaceTime. My husband is not, but when I’m traveling for work, I love to check in with the kids, to see the giant block castle they built, the funny new dance moves they’ve created and just their crazy facial animations as they tell me about their day. The conversation often runs from room to room, so I also get to inspect how messy my house is from afar (but don’t tell my husband that!)

All in all, it helps me feel like I’m back in Brookings, S.D., my home and home to the great South Dakota State University. Go Jacks!

So, you can imagine my excitement a couple weeks ago, when sitting in a conference room more than 1,600 miles away from Brookings and SDSU at the National Pork Board meeting during Pork Forum, I, along with a couple hundred other pork industry representatives in the room, were able to get some “face time” with the SDSU Swine Education and Research Center.

“I hold a special place in my heart for that whole facility and to see them doing these innovative things,” says Steve Rommereim, president of the National Pork Board and a pork producer from Alcester, S.D. “I got to actually see a young lady walking us through the barn, answering questions in real time from Florida. This absolutely is a way to reach out to the whole world on what we are trying to do.”

Since the Pork Checkoff’s Operation Main Street began collaborating with SDSU to “open the barn doors” on how pigs are raised, the facility hosted 10 virtual tours in 2018 and has completed six out of the 36 scheduled thus far for 2019. This is in addition to the two dozen in-barn tours the site provides each year, according to Cameron Pewe, SDSU barn manager.


While in-barn tour participants range from state agencies, civic groups, students and producers, the virtual tours are reaching a much more diverse audience. Seven schools of veterinary medicine, along with two culinary art groups from Missouri and Colorado and one dietetic association from northeast Indiana had the opportunity last year to see the state-of-the-art SDSU teaching center, explore all phases of pig production and get insight into the latest technology for reproductive physiology, nutrition management and sustainability.

“Virtual tours help non-traditional audiences understand today’s pork production,” says Bob Thaler, SDSU professor and a swine Extension specialist. “Our goal is to demystify how pigs are raised.”

An added benefit of the virtual tours is that they are conducted by SDSU students. The students give live barn tours and participate with the OMS speakers during presentations to answer questions.

“Another positive around that is these kids come in, learn how to do these virtual tours, learn about the hog business itself, and then will be able go off into the world, whatever industry they are in and be able to go out and do the same thing outside the doors of the university,” Rommereim says. “I think that is a real benefit, a real positive.”

Maddie Hokanson, an SDSU senior and one of the Pork Checkoff’s 2017 America’s Pig Farmers of Tomorrow, says the tours underscore how technology is driving continuous improvement in pig farming.

“The live tours provide virtual face-to-face communication that show how far we’ve come with barn technology to raise healthier pigs,” Hokanson says.

Rommereim says the virtual aspect is also very important in this day and age of biosecurity.

“We can’t have a lot of people tromping through our barns anymore, especially the barns with young pigs, farrowing and birthing barns. There is just too much opportunity to bring diseases in to these pigs. We can’t allow that. It’s an animal-welfare issue and it’s a profitability issue,” Rommereim says. “I think this is a wonderful opportunity for producers, for pig farmers and all stages of our industry, the whole food chain if you will, to get the word out about what we are doing, when it comes to public safety, nutrition, all the messages we are trying to send out there, this a great venue to do it.”

Transparency is key and it’s great to see these up-and-coming young leaders step up to the camera and do a little “face timing” about our great industry. It opens the barn doors to people who might never have a chance to tour a pig farm, and it provides an opportunity for these students to sharpen their skillset in public speaking. I know I’m proud of my alma mater.

Go big. Go blue. Go Jacks!

Farm Progress America, March 22, 2019

Max Armstrong shares his take on a recent study that again calls consumption of eggs into question. That’s the headline of a new study from the Journal of the American Medical Association, but Max shared that there are questions regarding the findings. And he points out the nutritional value of eggs including their protein and choline content.

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: Pineapple Studio/iStock/Getty Images Plus

College students put culinary skills to test in IPPA Taste of Elegance

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The first place team at the March contest was Kirkwood Community College students Richard Byrd, Iowa City and Maiah Johanningmeier, Decorah.

Eleven teams from five different colleges and universities recently put their culinary skills to the test during the Iowa Pork Producers Association's Student Taste of Elegance. The event was held at the Iowa Culinary Institute on the Des Moines Area Community College campus in Ankeny. 

“IPPA annually hosts this culinary contest to help students build their skills and confidence in cooking pork,” says Kelsey Sutter, marketing and programs director at IPPA. “It also inspires students to think about innovative and exciting ways to present pork on menus.”

This year's competing teams created an original pork entrée using pork belly as the main cut.

The first place team at the March contest was Kirkwood Community College students Maiah Johanningmeier, Decorah, and Richard Byrd, Iowa City. They prepared Dashi Sous Vide Pork Belly with Sweet Potato Pave, Homemade Kimichi, Marinated Egg, Chicharron and Satay Sauce. Johanningmeier and Byrd each receive $100 scholarships from IPPA, and the KCC culinary program received $750 for their scholarship fund.


A team from Iowa State University received second place by preparing Crispy Herb-Braised Pork Belly with Leek Ricotta Cream, Acorn Squash Fries and Fib-Cabernet Reduction. ISU students on the team were Cristina Franco-Olvera, McAllen, Texas, Anna Sullivan, Cedar Rapids, and Sara Siebrecht, Sheldon. These three students received $50 scholarships each, and ISU's culinary program received $500 from IPPA for their scholarship fund.

The third place team came from Iowa Western Community College. The student team, which included Brent Gallaher and Clayton West, both of Atlantic, along with Marie Chocolate, Council Bluffs, prepared Slow-Roasted Southern Style Pork Belly. The students received $25 scholarships each, and the IWCC culinary program received $250 for their scholarship fund.

Other schools that had teams participating in the contest were Des Moines Area Community College and Indian Hills. Each of the participating schools received a $500 stipend for food and contest expenses for the contest.

The contest is made possible through the Pork Checkoff program and is supported by IPPA's restaurant and food service committee.

Source: Iowa Pork Producers Association, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Pork called 'essentially free' of veterinary residues

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In a basic survey of more than a thousand pork kidney samples, almost no veterinary drug residues were found, and none at levels that even approached U.S. regulatory limits, according to a study just published by an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist in Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A.

Research chemist Weilin Schelver with the ARS Animal Metabolism-Agricultural Chemicals Research Unit in Fargo, N.D., pointed out that his findings "signal that U.S. pork producers are using veterinary compounds properly and indicate that veterinary drug residues in pork are not posing a health concern to U.S. consumers."

According to ARS, Shelver and his co-researcher Amy McGarvey purchased a total of 1,040 pork kidneys from four grocery stores in the Midwest and tested for residues of five commonly used veterinary drugs and feed additives: flunixin, penicillin G, ractopamine, sulfamethazine and tetracycline.

Pork kidneys are commonly used as an indicator meat because they are readily accessible and tend to concentrate drug residues compared to more commonly consumed muscle meats, ARS pointed out.

Only six samples from the 1,040 tested (0.58%) were positive when screened for antibiotics, indicating that these samples potentially contained antibiotic residues, Shelver said.

As a further check, a 278-sample subset of the pork kidney samples was screened with a more specific type of test for residues of four veterinary drugs: flunixin, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent; ractopamine, an agent that enhances leanness in meat, and the antibiotics sulfamethazine and tetracycline. This testing used enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs), which, at times, are capable of measuring residues at far lower concentrations than those called for by regulatory tolerances.

Regardless of the testing method, residue levels of all veterinary compounds were always well below U.S. regulatory tolerances, ARS reported. For example, of the samples assessed by the highly sensitive ELISA and other methods, only 4% were positive for minute amounts of sulfamethazine, 10% for trace quantities of tetracycline and 22% for detectable quantities of ractopamine.

“The new report from the Agricultural Research Service reflects just how well U.S. pig farmers are doing with antibiotic stewardship in their daily goal of raising a very safe product for consumers to enjoy,” said Steve Larsen, a meat scientist who serves as the National Pork Board’s assistant vice president of science and technology. “It’s always good to get this kind of positive report card on pork safety, but we know producers and their veterinarians are never satisfied with the status quo and are always seeking new ways to do what’s right for people, pigs and the planet. This is reflected best in the National Pork Board’s "Position on Antibiotic Use in Pork Production," which emphasizes farmers’ dedication to raising healthy animals to help ensure a safe food supply.”

In addition, Larsen reiterated the role of the National Pork Board’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus certification program in helping farmers follow the appropriate withdrawal times for all Food & Drug Administration-approved antibiotics.

The board issued the policy position in September 2018 and noted that, through its pork checkoff, the board "supports objective, scientifically rigorous studies and risk assessments to help farmers make informed decisions regarding use of antibiotics in food animals and to build upon efforts to continuously improve antibiotic use best practices. The board also supports veterinarian oversight and best practices, as outlined in the long-established Pork Quality Assurance Plus certification program, which promotes education as an essential component of antibiotic stewardship and strongly encourages compliance with all regulatory requirements."

MIDDAY Midwest Digest, March 21, 2019

Moorehead, Minn., is the latest city to declare a flood emergency. 

Studies of binge drinking among college students may have some tax payers wondering why the University of Michigan is investing in a bourbon company. 

Major government reports are on tap for ag next week. Analysts say that the plantings report may not hold as much stock because of flooding.

Kentucky's governor deliberatly exposed all of his children to chicken pox. 


Photo: BullpenAl/Getty Images


MORNING Midwest Digest, March 21, 2019

Is hot tea causing esophageal cancer?

Not all the flooding is as bad as along the Missouri River, but it may be more widespread.

President Trump says that if the U.S. gets a trade deal with China, tariffs could stay in place for a "substantial period of time."

Do they count pot holes in your city or county? South Bend, Ind., has filled 14,000 so far, and expects to fill more than 30,000. 


Photo: fermate/Getty Images

African swine fever: Do you know the signs and symptoms?

Plum Island Animal Disease Center Early detection of pigs with symptoms of African swine fever is crucial. Piling can occur when pigs have a fever, a common symptom of ASF.
Early detection of pigs with symptoms of African swine fever is crucial. Piling can occur when pigs have a fever, a common symptom of ASF.

The USDA chief veterinary officer is reminding pork producers and veterinarians to be vigilant for signs and symptoms of African swine fever, a deadly swine disease that could dramatically impact the U.S. pig population. 

“ASF has never been detected in the United States and we want to keep it that way,” says Jack Shere. “On-farm biosecurity is critical and plans should be evaluated to ensure strict procedures designed to keep animals healthy are being followed at all times.”

USDA accredited veterinarians can review and assess biosecurity plans if needed. Biosecurity training is essential for all farm workers and visitors to understand the significance of disease prevention in order to protect U.S. pigs.

Vigilance is also crucial to disease prevention and USDA wants all veterinarians and producers to recognize the signs and symptoms of ASF:

  • High fever
  • Decreased appetite and weakness
  • Red/blotchy skin lesions
  • Diarrhea, vomiting
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service urges anyone who suspects sick pigs to report it immediately to their veterinarian, or to state or federal animal health officials. USDA’s hotline to report foreign animal diseases is 1-866-536-7593.

“Quick detection of any illness helps prevent large outbreaks,” says Shere. “We would rather be called out to investigate an illness and rule out a foreign animal disease than have someone wait to call us, allowing a disease to spread to other animals and herds.”

More information on ASF, partner resources and additional resources for producers and veterinarians are available on the APHIS ASF webpage and in this infographic

Source: USDA APHIS, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Next level precision sow feeding

National Pork Board sow and piglets in stall

By Ryan Samuel, South Dakota State University
As the nutritional requirements of sows continue to be further refined, are there opportunities to achieve next level precision sow feeding? Traditionally, sows have been fed once per day, which has been shown to increase the efficiency of energy utilization, but decrease the efficiency of protein utilization. There may exist a trio of “rights” in precision feeding modern, prolific sows — the right diet, in the right quantity, at the right time.

Work is ongoing at South Dakota State University that will better define the right diet and the right quantity with respect to dietary amino acid requirements and phase or transition feeding sows over multiple parities. Unfortunately, there appears to be a dearth of recent information on feeding sows at the right time and the importance in achieving next level precision sow feeding.

Previous research has not demonstrated any significant advantage in productivity to feeding sows more than once per day. For example, it has been observed that pigs fed a single meal gained weight at a similar rate as pigs fed frequent small meals (Allee et al., 1972). In fact, feeding sows once per day appeared to result in greater efficiency of energy storage compared to sows fed more than a single meal per day, according to Fabry (1969).

On the one hand, the improvement in energy utilization efficiency has also been attributed to reduced energy expenditure related to consuming a single meal compared to multiple meals (Baird, 1970). On the other hand, reducing feeding frequency has an effect on lipid metabolism. As an adaptive mechanism for storage of large energy intakes, lipogenesis is stimulated by infrequent meal feeding (Leveille and Hanson, 1965). The result of increased lipogenesis is increased body fat and plasma lipid concentrations (Fabry, 1969). Whereas single-meal fed animals tend to retain excess energy primarily as fat, frequently-fed animals tend to store excess carbohydrates as glycogen, rather than converting them to lipid (Leveille and Hanson, 1965). As a result, it can be predicted that the composition of the body weight gain between frequently-fed and single-fed animals would be different. Therefore, the effect of meal feeding on energy metabolism should be considered for the impact on sow dietary requirements and body composition.

Animals fed once per day appear to retain more energy as fat, compared to animals consuming meals that are more frequent. However, animals fed once per day appear to oxidize more amino acids due to the inability to deal with the large influx of nutrients (Fabry, 1969). Work conducted at the University of Alberta investigated the energy and protein metabolism of non-pregnant sows and pregnant sows through gestation. Simultaneous measurements of energy, using open circuit calorimetry, and protein metabolism, as whole-body protein turnover, demonstrated that the periodicity of eating had opposite impacts on sow metabolism.

Therefore, while single-meal feeding improved the efficiency of energy retention, the efficiency of protein utilization was reduced in those sows (Samuel, 2008). Recently, the University of Minnesota reported that when sows were fed in the afternoon, instead of the morning, alterations in energy and nutrient metabolism improved backfat gain (Manu et al., 2019).

A goal within agriculture and, therefore, the swine industry, is to achieve precision feeding. One of the objectives in this vein is lowering the crude protein content of swine diets. Potential advantages of low crude protein diets include savings on expensive protein ingredients, thereby reducing diet costs, reductions in nitrogen emissions, thereby reducing the impact on the environment, and improvements in gut health, thereby improving the production efficiency. However, the results of feeding sows diets with low crude protein formulations have been mixed (McMillan, 2003). Perhaps the dietary requirements for amino acids are greater due to single-meal feeding, where protein utilization is reduced, than if sows were fed more frequent, smaller meals.

Furthermore, reductions in dietary crude protein content will require greater levels and mixtures of synthetic amino acids in the diets. Therefore, the potential for infrequent feeding to negatively impact amino acid utilization due to nutrient asynchrony may increase. Amino acid asynchrony refers to the delayed digestion and absorption of protein-bound amino acids compared to synthetic amino acid sources. Therefore, what are the potential implications of increasing the inclusion of synthetic amino acids, such as within lower crude protein diets, and single-meal feeding?

Within one gestation cycle, feeding sows more than once per day has not been shown to provide an advantage in measures of sow productivity such as the number of pigs born, born alive, strength of the piglets, or daily feed cost per sow (Baird, 1970). However, research has demonstrated that feeding frequency impacts metabolism and, consequently, dietary nutrient requirements (Le Naou et al., 2014). Ideally sows are not kept in the breeding herd for a single gestation; therefore, it is imperative that sow research be carried out over at least two parities. Because there is limited new research on the topic, in order to achieve next level precision sow feeding, the effects of frequency of feeding and time of day of feeding on energy and protein requirements should be considered, especially when using a low dietary protein strategy.


Allee, G. L., D. R. Romsos, G. A. Leveille, and D. H. Baker. 1972. Metabolic adaptation induced by meal-eating in the pig. J. Nutr. 102: 1115-1122.
Baird, D. M. 1970. Individual and “skip-day” vs. group feeding systems for sows during gestation. Research Report 82 ed. College of Agriculture Experiment Stations, University of Georgia.
Fabry, P. 1969. Feeding pattern and nutritional adaptations. London, Butterworths.
Leveille, G. A., and R. W. Hanson. 1965. Influence of periodicity of eating on adipose tissue metabolism in the rat. Can. J. Physiol. Pharmacol. 43: 857-868.
Le Naou, T., N. Le Floc’h, I. Louveau, J. van Milgen, and F. Gondret. 2014. Meal frequency changes the basal and time-course profiles of plasma nutrient concentrations and affects feed efficiency in young growing pigs. J. Anim. Sci. 92: 2008–2016.
Manu, H., S. H. Lee, P. Ren, D. Pangeni, X. Yang, and S. K. Baidoo. 2019. Effects of time of feeding during gestation on sow’s performance. J. Anim. Sci. 97: 1234–1241.
McMillan, D. J. 2003. Development of Low Protein Diets for Sows: Effect on Performance and Energy Metabolism. MSc Thesis, University of Alberta.
Samuel, R. S. 2008. Maintenance energy metabolism in non-pregnant and pregnant sows. MSc thesis, University of Alberta.
Source: Ryan Samuel, South Dakota State University, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.