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Pork checkoff changing with times

Pork Checkoff Ham-Cured Boneless Porterhouse Chop with Braised Red Cabbage and Lard Potato Puree.jpg

The U.S. is expected to have record pork production in 2019 at more than 27 billion lb. Per capita consumption is currently at 52 lb., a 16-year record, according to national pork checkoff chief executive officer Bill Even, who recently spoke at the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) meeting in Orlando, Fla. “So, not only are we producing more, but -- knock on wood -- people are also eating more,” he said.

Still, society is changing, and the pork checkoff has made it a mission to change with it.

According to Even, the average American checks their phone 150 times a day, and 51% of all grocery sales now are digitally influenced.

“I’m not just talking about online grocery purchases. What I’m talking about here is people are going to digital resources to make decisions,” he told the audience.

In fact, he relayed that 63,000 searches per second are conducted on Google alone. Online video platform YouTube boasts 2 trillion views per year, with 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute; “that’s 432,000 hours a day,” he said, adding that a large majority (86%) of people visiting YouTube go there to learn how to do something.

“The bottom line is people are getting their information in a different fashion today,” Even said.

Google is the number-one search engine, followed by YouTube. Further, Even said 80% of all digital advertising is now spent on three platforms: Google, Amazon and Facebook.

“Think about that. Billions of dollars that go into digital advertising are being driven to those three platforms,” he said.  “This is why the pork checkoff established a partnership with Google two years ago to drive us on pork messaging.”

It isn’t just a Millennial fad, either, because three out of four adults are using YouTube now too, he added.

Checkoff marketing

To capitalize on this massive opportunity, Even said the National Pork Board (NPB) made 46 videos focused on a variety of different topics.

“People trust the average Joe that looks like them that put something on YouTube more than they’re going to trust a spokesperson or the government,” he explained.

NPB also went a step further and partnered with Costco and Sam’s Club on videos. Currently, 120 million minutes of watch time have been logged for the Costco videos and nearly 12 million minutes for Sam’s Club. Unique views total more than 3 million for Costco and nearly 2 million for Sam’s Club.

“This is the type of reach that we could not accomplish with just straight up advertising the checkoff. The world has changed, and the checkoff has changed with it,” Even explained.

NPB also partnered with the popular YouTube cooking show "Basics with Babish," and one of the videos ended up trending on YouTube for a period of days. “That means ... it was within the top videos being watched on YouTube. That is jaw dropping,” Even said.

This was done with checkoff dollars, he said, adding, “I think this is an example of how your checkoff is rapidly reinventing itself on the marketing side to be successful.”

Prohibited pork: Which airports are most at risk?

Tashka-GettyImages Previously the mean annual risk of introduction through an airport (not through pigs) over a cumulative 16 years would be 100%.

I think it’s safe to say air travel at times brings out the best and worst in people. Fortunately, my faith in humanity was restored this week upon my travels back from the National Pork Forum and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians annual meeting in Orlando.

When my flight from Chicago to Sioux Falls was cancelled Tuesday evening, I, as several other South Dakotans, decided to take the next best option and rebooked into Minneapolis. After all, another blizzard, ice storm and flood warning were in the forecast and if we didn’t get in Tuesday, it could be Friday before any of us made it home. After we made many desperate calls and tried online booking, one of my fellow passengers had luck, was able to secure one of the last rentals available at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and ensure it had enough space to squeeze in her two sisters, brother-in-law and their new friend Ann.

While we weren’t the only South Dakotans who caravanned back to the tundra and got to know each other better over the four-hour journey, it was a pleasant feeling to see some good come out of the predicament we were unfortunately put in at Chicago O’Hare.

Speaking of airports, this week at the AASV meeting Paul Sundberg, director of the Swine Health Information Center, shared some interesting data on airport risk assessment for bringing in prohibited swine products into U.S. international airports. Before African swine fever in China was first reported in August, a study out of Spain was published, analyzing the risk of ASF and classical swine fever being introduced into the United States through prohibited swine products carried by air passengers and identifying locations and time periods at higher risk where and when preventive and mitigation measures should be implemented.

Focusing on ASF, the overall mean annual probability of ASF entry was estimated as 0.061 at 95% confidence interval [0.007, 0.216]. July and May were the months at highest risk for entry. For ASF, the origin countries of those air passengers that represented the highest risk (above 70% of the total risk) were Ghana, Cape Verde, Ethiopia and the Russian Federation. The study used international travel and U.S. Customs and Border Protection data from January of 2010 to March of 2016.

Since these results were based on data prior to the August 2018 notification of ASF in China, SHIC and the National Pork Board have decided to co-fund a project with the University of Minnesota to update this risk estimate.

During the AASV meeting, Sundberg was able to share some of the preliminary data from that report.

  • Previously the mean annual risk of introduction through an airport (not through pigs) over a cumulative 16 years would be 100%. Now it would only take nine cumulative years to get to a 100% risk. This means by the end of nine years it is expected one of those prohibited products to not be detected and get out of the airport.
  • The five U.S. airports most at risk to have prohibited product come through are Newark Liberty International, Newark, N.J.; George Bush Intercontinental, Houston, Texas; Los Angeles International, Los Angeles, Calif.; John F Kennedy International, New York City, N.Y.; and San Jose International, San Jose, Calif.
  • The two highest risk areas of the world for people coming into U.S. airports are China/Asia and Russia. On an annual basis there is close to 100% chance a contaminated product will be brought into one of those five airports.

Sundberg says one important fact to remember regarding this data is this doesn’t mean it infects pigs — it is just the probability of that prohibited product getting out of the airport.

With this data in hand, SHIC and NPB plan to update the CBP to see how that risk can be lowered. Here’s hoping those efforts are fruitful and security can “batten down the hatches” at those airports. In the meantime, we put our trust in the CBP agricultural specialists and the Beagle Brigade who are there every day, intercepting those prohibited products and ensuring our industry’s safety.

MORNING Midwest Digest, March 15, 2019

National Ag Week was this week. 

The weather this week has been impressive, from tornados to blizzards to flooding.

If you have some Butter Ball ground turkey, check it. There's a recall after some people in Wisconsin and one in Minnesota got sick.

Another rural hospital has closed, this time in Kansas.

A man was burgling a garage and a 900-pound safe fell on him and he died.


Photo: sanddebeautheil/Getty Images

Farm Progress America, March 15, 2019

Max Armstrong looks at a recent survey from the American Lamb Board that investigates consumer preference for lamb. Max offers a look at key factors consumers offered up including the fact that 50% of consumers have never tried lamb.

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: DronG/iStock/Getty Images Plus

MIDDAY Midwest Digest March 14, 2019

It is National Agriculture Day

It’s also National Pi Day (314 day)

President Trump’s budget proposal landed with a thud. Nearly 200 farm and ranch organizations wrote letter urging rejection of president’s calls for cuts to USDA spending.

Mother Nature is bringing another big storm to Midwest. It will clear out for week to 10 days and then more to come. Another wet spring seems to be ahead.

It’s coyote season in Michigan. Make your area less attractive by getting rid of pet food, trash bins, bird feeding areas.

At a Subway in Michigan, a man wandered behind the counter made his own sandwich and sandwiches for others before swiping a $20 from the till and wandering away.

DDGS withdrawal improves pig growth rate

National Hog Farmer/Kevin Schulz finishing pigs

By Annie B. Lerner, Mike D. Tokach, Jason C. Woodworth, Steve S. Dritz, Joel M. DeRouchey and Robert D. Goodband, Kansas State University; and Matt Allerson, Holden Farms
Corn distillers dried grains are commonly included to swine diets in order to reduce diet cost and is often added to finishing diets at 20% to 30% when economics are favorable. However, there are potential detrimental effects associated with the increased fiber and oil content of DDGS.

Increased fiber in the digestive tract increases gut fill and may result in reduced carcass yield for pigs consuming DDGS until marketing compared to those fed diets without DDGS. Further, the fatty acids composition in DDGS may result in poorer pork fat quality due to increased concentration of unsaturated fatty acids. Removing DDGS from the diet for a period before marketing reduces these negative effects; however, the appropriate withdrawal duration to capture the value of decreased diet cost while mitigating potential reductions in carcass yield or fat quality needs further research.

Our objective was to understand the impacts of withdrawing DDGS starting 76 days before harvest or later. The experiment was conducted at a commercial finishing barn in Minnesota and utilized 860 finishing pigs [PIC C48 or L42 × 327; initially 146. The experiment began when pigs were approximately 146 pounds and lasted for 76 days. Withdrawal times consisted of the following: 76 (no DDGS fed), 42, 27, 15 or zero days (no withdrawal) before the time of barn dump.

Pigs were fed diets containing 40% DDGS until the start of the trial. Diets contained DDGS had 35% DDGS from approximately 146 to 180 pounds and 30% until the completion of the trial.

Growth performance is depicted in Figures 1-3. For the overall period from Day -76 to zero (market), as duration of DDGS withdrawal increased, average daily gain and final body weight also increased, while F/G improved. Average daily feed intake increased at first, then decreased, with increasing withdrawal time.

Kansas State University/Holden FarmsFigure 1: Effect of increasing DDGS withdrawal duration on average daily gain of finishing pigs.

Figure 1: Effect of increasing DDGS withdrawal duration on average daily gain of finishing pigs.

Kansas State University/Holden FarmsFigure 2: Effect of increasing DDGS withdrawal duration on average daily feed intake of finishing pigs.

Figure 2: Effect of increasing DDGS withdrawal duration on average daily feed intake of finishing pigs.

Kansas State University/Holden FarmsFigure 3: Effect of increasing DDGS withdrawal duration on feed efficiency of finishing pigs.

Figure 3: Effect of increasing DDGS withdrawal duration on feed efficiency of finishing pigs.

Carcass characteristics and economics are presented in Table 1. Hot carcass weight was improved, and yield was marginally improved with increasing DDGS withdrawal time. Loin depth and lean percentage did not demonstrate any evidence for treatment differences, while backfat was increased with increasing DDGS withdrawal duration. Lastly, iodine value of belly fat was increased with increased feeding duration of DDGS, indicating that the fat contained more unsaturated fatty acids. Lastly, feed cost per pig, carcass gain value and income over feed costs were all increased with increasing withdrawal time.

Kansas State University/Holden FarmsTable 1: Effects of DDGS withdrawal on carcass characteristics and economics of finishing pigs

In summary, removing pigs from a DDGS-based diet for longer periods before slaughter increased growth rate and feed efficiency, resulting in heavier hot carcass weights. Iodine value was also reduced for pigs removed from DDGS for longer periods, indicating increased saturation (firmness) of the belly fat; however, iodine values for all treatments were acceptable at market. The economic environment during this study with moderately high priced DDGS ($148 per ton) resulted in increased income over feed cost for pigs withdrawn from DDGS on Day -76.

Our research continues to demonstrate that withdrawing DDGS from the diet prior to market improves carcass yield and fat firmness (iodine value); however, the impact on economic return is more variable and depends on ingredient prices and magnitude of change in growth rate when DDGS is removed from the diet.

Sources: Annie B. Lerner, Mike D. Tokach, Jason C. Woodworth, Steve S. Dritz, Joel M. DeRouchey and Robert D. Goodband, Kansas State University; and Matt Allerson, Holden Farms, who are 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.

Target diet, appetite during disease challenge in nursery pigs


Speaking to the Gary Allee Symposium at the Midwest section meetings of the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS) and American Dairy Science Assn. (ADSA) in Omaha, Neb., Dr. Nick Gabler of Iowa State University examined the role of disease status on the growth and intestinal function of nursery pigs.

Specifically, he addressed to what extent feed intake explains the disease phenotype associated with nursery pigs infected with porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) virus, which was studied because PRRS is endemic in the midwestern U.S. and is considered a gateway pathogen for other diseases.

Gabler said PRRS infection can reduce average daily feed intake 51% and average daily gain 58% compared to ad libitum-fed healthy pigs. A similar response was observed when healthy pigs were pair fed the same amount of feed as the PRRS-infected pigs. Gabler said this indicates that a reduction in feed intake may explain the PRRS growth response.

In the same study, Gabler and his team also examined the internal organs of the pigs and found that the PRRS-infected pigs had larger lungs, heart, liver and spleen, while the pair-fed pigs had larger intestines, which may have developed as a way for those pigs to get more nutrients out of the limited amount of feed provided.

Regarding what can be done, Gabler reviewed current research his laboratory conducted that demonstrates the influence of the dietary lysine-to-metabolizable energy (ME) ratio, the optimum breakpoint of which shifts to the right to 120% in PRRS-infected pigs.

The digestible lysine:ME ratio is more important than the protein/amino acid source, he added, noting that the main amino acids were all increased in balance in the study.

Gabler concluded that nutrient partitioning and metabolism priorities are altered during a pathogen challenge, leading to changes in intestinal function and integrity. This results in a negative impact on growth and lean tissue accretion.

Diet and appetite need to be targeted to maintain growth performance during a pathogen challenge, he explained.

MORNING Midwest Digest March 14, 2019

Steve Alexander fills in for Max Armstrong.

Happy National Agriculture Day!

There is no question in my mind that agriculture is the most important profession in the world. Max is in DC for all the festivities.

Nearly 200 farm and ranch organizations in Washington, D.C.,, for Ag Day festivities fired off letter to Congress urging rejection of president’s proposed budget cuts to USDA.

Lot of Midwesterners struggling with more snow, rain. North Dakota, Wyoming dealing with snow, while Minnesota and Wisconsin dealing with floods. After this system, break for week to 10 days.

Iowa restaurants compete in Pulled Pork’s Sweet 16

Carolina Pulled Pork

March Madness is kicking off across Iowa. Sixteen Iowa restaurants are now in the brackets for a full-on competition to find Iowa’s best pulled pork sandwich. The month-long contest sponsored by the Iowa Pork Producers Association mimics the March Madness college basketball tournament craze and will follow the same narrowing process that gets restaurants to the “Elite 8” and “Final Four.”

However, in this case, it will be fans who determine the winner as Iowans vote on the restaurant in the competition which they think serves the best pulled pork sandwich. Voting deadlines will be March 18, March 21, March 25 and March 28. The winner will be announced March 29.

Restaurants in the Sweet 16 are:

  • Iowa BBQ Co., Le Mars, District 1
  • Smokin’ Hereford BBQ, Storm Lake, District 1
  • Vinny’s BBQ, Dakota City, District 2
  • Edgewater BBQ, Emmetsburg, District 2
  • Blue Barn BBQ, Cedar Falls, District 3
  • Starbeck’s, Cedar Falls, District 3
  • Backwood’s BBQ, McGregor, District 4
  • Dotzy’s Restaurant & Saloon, Elgin, District 4
  • Twisted Tail Steakhouse & Saloon, Beebeetown, District 5
  • The Full Nelson, Halbur, District 5
  • Bett & Bev’s BBQ, Jefferson, District 6
  • Short E’s BBQ, Johnston, District 6
  • Warehouse Barbecue Co + Brewhouse, Ottumwa, District 7
  • Lynnville’s Smokin’ J’s BBQ, Lynnville, District 7
  • Smilee’s, DeWitt, District 8
  • Sweet ’N Saucy, Fairfield, District 8

IPPA Consumer Outreach director Kelsey Byrnes initially invited the organization’s Facebook followers during the first week of March to nominate the Iowa restaurant they feel has the best pulled pork sandwich and 1,150 people responded. Pork fans nominated 80 restaurants and Byrnes then selected the top two vote-getters in each of IPPA’s eight districts to fill out the “Sweet 16” bracket.

Fans will be able to vote on both IPPAs website and by following the organizations Facebook page.

“We hold this social media contest to attract new pork fans and remind people that there are restaurants in all parts of Iowa that offer really great barbecue pork,” Byrnes says.

Along with bragging rights, the winning restaurant will receive $250 and a “Pulled Pork Madness” plaque.

The inaugural winner of Pulled Pork Madness in 2018 was Moo’s BBQ in Newton.

Source: Iowa Pork Producers Association, 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.

Farm Progress America, March 14, 2019

Max Armstrong offers a look at the National Ag Day Essay Winner Grace Broce, Box Elder, South Dakota. Max quotes her winning essay that points out how agriculture has changed and what that means for feeding the world.

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.