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Articles from 2005 In May

Lab Funding Progresses

The nearly $60 million needed to complete modernization of a federal government animal disease laboratory in Ames, IA, has passed through the House Agriculture Appropriations Committee.

The inclusion of the National Animal Disease Center (NADC) in the 2006 agriculture budget is an important first step in securing funding approval, says Tom Latham (D-IA). NADC tests for domestic livestock diseases as well as for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), anthrax and rabies.

The funding must also go through the House Appropriations Committee, the full House and through the Senate before it gets final approval. The money was included in President Bush’s 2006 budget request.

Total project cost to renovate the lab will exceed $400 million.

Hog Prices Dip But Stay Robust

Hog prices are expected to stay strong – just not in the upper $50s as some had hoped, says Chris Hurt, Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

“Some had feared that the recent drop in prices was a sign that the ‘big break’ in hog prices had begun,” he says. “That is not likely to happen.”

In recent days, hog futures prices have seen the first slip in what has been a bullish market. Cash prices have followed that drop, raising questions whether live hog prices can hold on. Despite just 1% fewer hogs going to market in 2005, prices have averaged about $52.60, 10% above the same period last year, says Hurt.

“Such strong performance in light of unchanged supplies reveals the continued strength of pork demand,” he notes. “The demand components this year include: strong pork exports given continued limits on U.S. beef exports; shifts to pork consumption due to record-high beef prices; narrow pork margins; and favorable consumer incomes and attitudes regarding meat consumption.”

Pork supplies for the rest of the year are expected to exceed 2004 production by 1%. “While this is not a major deterrent to continued high hog prices, it does cast a possible bearish shadow, at least from the level of $80 summer futures prices,” states Hurt. “A second supply concern is that breeding herd expansion is likely to be revealed in the USDA’s June Hogs and Pigs report to be released June 24.”

Hurt observes that the best evidence of expansion comes from the low rate of sow slaughter since last December, down about 8% vs. the same period a year earlier. The March report showed no signs of a breeding herd buildup, but a 1-2% increase appears possible for the June update.

Canadian imports of market hogs are down about 20%, and imports of pigs for finishing are down about 12%. “Given the strength of the Canadian dollar, the flow of pigs coming from Canada is expected to remain below year-previous levels, another supply fundamental that does not favor a major break in hog prices,” adds Hurt.

A number of positive factors point to continued profitable hog prices in 2005. Live hog prices should average in the mid-$50 for the second quarter and drop into the lower $50s for the third quarter.

Breaking News

Supreme Court Affirms Beef Checkoff Program

In a 6-3 vote today, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985, overturning lower court decisions by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and the U.S. District Court for Montana, which had ruled the measure unconstitutional.

The justices ruled that the mandatory $1-per-head assessments on cattle support a valid program of “government speech,” directed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The higher court’s ruling bolsters the case for the pork checkoff, which also had a lower court declare that program unconstitutional, as well as promotion fees assessed on milk, eggs, cotton and soybeans.

Observes Dave Culbertson, president of the National Pork Board: “The court’s decision is a victory for all commodity programs, including the pork checkoff. We don’t know yet whether the court will apply exactly the same decision to the pork case. However, Congress created the two programs at the same time in very similar fashion.

“In this case, it means that checkoff funds can continue to fund promotional programs such as ‘Pork. The Other White Meat’ to help them remain competitive in the national and international marketplaces.

“We look forward to the conclusion of the pork case as well, so all producers can come together to move the industry forward and to focus precious industry resources on improving the marketplace for pork,” adds Culbertson. The American Farm Bureau Federation and 50 other organizations backed the beef checkoff program, and credited it with stopping the 20-year erosion in demand for beef.

Writing for the Supreme Court, Justice Antonin Scalia rejected claims the fees were an illegal “compelled subsidy.” He supported the contention that the beef ads are government speech. “The message set out in the promotions is from beginning to end the message established by the federal government,” he wrote.

Joining Scalia’s opinion were Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Clarence Thomas and Stephen G. Breyer. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a separate opinion agreeing with the majority. Justices Anthony Kennedy, David Souter and John Paul Stevens dissented.

Who's who in the U.S. pork industry

A successful, dynamic industry requires strong leadership, commitment and vision. Hundreds of men and women have worked tirelessly to mold the pork industry during the five decades National Hog Farmer has been published.

In an effort to recognize some of the people who were instrumental in shaping the U.S. pork industry, we put out a call for nominations. Over 200 men and women were nominated in 15 categories, but the contributions of many were not limited by such a designation.

We gathered nine past and current National Hog Farmer editors, spanning our 50 years, to tackle the arduous task of narrowing the field to just 50. (Their photos and brief biographies appear below.)

The 50 men and women selected, and the other nominees listed in italic at the end of each category, reads like a veritable “Who's Who in the U.S. Pork Industry.”

National Hog Farmer salutes these bold leaders, scientists, mentors, innovators, teachers and visionaries. The list is not complete, of course. For those we missed, we apologize. Their absence here in no way lessens their contributions.

Please join us as we tip our hats to the National Hog Farmer's Top 50 men and women who truly made a difference in the U.S. pork industry.

Commercial Producer

Roy & Myrtle Keppy, Davenport, Iowa

Patriarch of a long line of Keppy family leaders in the pork industry, Roy, with the untiring support of his wife, Myrtle, was instrumental in the origin and early development of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC). A member of the famed “Moline 90,” Keppy wrote the first check to build funds for a new industry organization and dedicated endless hours to solidifying the organization's position in agriculture.

Keppy served on dozens of livestock and grain boards, was the seventh president of NPPC, served the National Livestock & Meat Board for 15 years, including two as chairman, and was a strong proponent of efficient meat-type hogs, demonstrated by the many champion barrows and truckloads he produced.

The Keppys' Glendale Farm was a diversified, family farming operation. Roy received many accolades during the years, including the National Hog Farmer Outstanding Service Award and induction into the Pork Industry Hall of Fame. In the words of his four children, “This Iowa man taught the principles for success to everyone he touched.”

Philip Bradshaw, Griggsville, Ill.

Pork producer Philip Bradshaw continues to travel the globe representing agriculture.

He serves with a U.S.-international agency on foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) eradication. In late April, he was in Mexico for a meeting on efforts to rid South America of FMD.

In early April, he was in Vietnam representing soybean producers. Since 2004, Bradshaw has served as a director for the U.S. United Soybean Board.

Throughout the years, he has served as an emissary for agricultural groups in trips to numerous foreign countries on animal health, grain and trade issues.

Bradshaw continues to serve as chairman of the National Pseudorabies Control Board, a post he has held since 1986.

He was president of the United States Animal Health Association in 1988-89 and served as the chairman of the Livestock Conservation Institute (LCI) board from 1985-87. He was president of the Illinois Pork Producers Association from 1971-74.

Bradshaw was presented the Illinois Pork Industry Service Award in 1974, the Service Award from the Illinois Pork Producers Association in 1976, Meritorious Service Award from LCI in 1982, the USDA Animal Health Award in 1995 and the Illinois Department of Agriculture Commendation for Outstanding Service in 1999.

George Brauer, Oakford, Ill.

Innovator, leader and pork promoter characterizes the life of George Brauer.

Brauer pioneered the concept of modern hog production by building the first hog confinement building in the United States with slotted floors in 1958. Over the years, he shared his innovations at Brauer Pork with thousands of visitors from around the world.

He served three years as president of the first state group, the Illinois Swine Herd Improvement Association.

He chaired the Hog Cholera Eradication Committee during the entire eradication effort.

Brauer was a member of the “Moline 90” producer group that raised seed money to start the National Pork Producers Council. He spent countless hours urging producers to participate in the voluntary pork checkoff program and promoted pork before the “Pork. The Other White Meat” campaign was launched.

Brauer has received the National Hog Farmer Service Award and was inducted into the Pork Industry Hall of Fame.

Don Gingerich, Parnell, Iowa

Don Gingerich was known as a quiet pork producer leader, whether focused on the national pseudorabies eradication program or the mandatory pork checkoff, both of which were enhanced by his efforts.

Gingerich worked in many official capacities, serving as president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association in 1981-82 and as president of the National Pork Producers Council in 1989-90.

He was instrumental in improving pork quality through introduction of the Pork Quality Assurance Program and establishment of a long-range industry goal to make pork the meat of choice by the year 2000.

Gingerich left a legacy of being able to connect regulatory officials with pork producers in advancing PRV and other programs, and in improving the effectiveness and credibility of NPPC's programs in Washington, DC.

Wendell H. Murphy, Rose Hill, N.C.

Wendell Murphy took a small hog operation that he built from the ground up in the early 1960s and turned it into one of the largest pork-producing companies in the world when he sold it to Smithfield Foods in January of 2000.

Murphy graduated from North Carolina State University in 1960 and taught agriculture at a local high school for five years.

He built a feedmill in 1962 and started raising hogs fulltime in 1968. His first hog operation was decimated by hog cholera. But he rebounded by setting up one of the country's first hog contracts with his tobacco-farming neighbors.

His contracting business bloomed, helping to develop a strong pork industry in North Carolina and adding strength to the Midwest pork industry.

Albert Gehlbach, Lincoln, Ill.

In 1946, Gehlbach stepped away from the traditional diversified farming operation to specialize in pork production. Soon after, he was instrumental in organizing one of the first county pork producer groups in the nation. He rose to state and national pork producer leadership roles and stood as a strong advocate of market checkoff programs as a means of funding programs to improve the pork industry.

Gehlbach worked many years to develop the checkoff plan that was initiated in his term as president of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) in 1968. He was also instrumental in affecting an agreement between the National Live Stock & Meat Board and the NPPC that clarified their shares of checkoff funds.

Gehlbach worked closely with the University of Illinois and pioneered new developments in pork facility design. He earned National Hog Farmer's Outstanding Service Award in 1968 and was inducted into the Pork Industry Hall of Fame in 1986.

Russ & Mary Jeckel, Delavan, Ill.

Pork production has truly been a family experience for Russ and Mary Jeckel. Russ was active with development of the Illinois Swine Herd Association and served as president of the Illinois Pork Producers Association in 1965.

Mary was active in state and national groups. She was a charter member of the Illinois Porkettes and served as national president from 1966 to 1968.

The Jeckels began raising feeder pigs in 1950, then moved to farrow-to-finish, adapting as the industry changed. They were early innovators, credited with pioneering the partial-slotted floor concept and the use of open-front confinement barns.

A few years back, they sold their sow herd and now finish pigs while continuing to raise corn and soybeans. Several of their children are active in the farming operation.

Both Russ and Mary were inducted into the Pork Industry Hall of Fame in 1996.

Ray & Ellen Hankes, Council Bluffs, Iowa

The Hankeses have approached the pork industry from many angles.

Ray began his pork career teaching and coaching meats classes and judging at the University of Illinois. In 1974, the Hankeses became owners-operators-partners in Thrushwood Farms, an 800-sow, farrow-to-finish operation near Fairbury, IL, and an associated quality meats business.

Ray chaired the committee that initiated the highly successful “Pork. The Other White Meat” campaign.

While he was president of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), the world's largest commodity-specific trade show, World Pork Expo, was launched and an historic referendum to assure continuation of the pork checkoff was conducted. He is also past president of the National Pork Board.

Ellen served as president of the Illinois Pork Producers Association and was a producer member of the National Environmental Dialog on Pork Production.

In 1999, Ray joined IBP Inc., Dakota Dunes, SD, as assistant to the president in the fresh meats division.

Later, he became manager of Tyson Fresh Meats, Goodlettsville, TN, and has recently moved to Tyson Fresh Meats' Council Bluffs plant as manager.

Ellen served as coordinator of the Illinois Coalition for Animal Agriculture, Inc. in the late '90s, and is currently a consultant for Environmental Management Systems, LLC, based in Des Moines.

Donna Reifschneider, Smithton, Ill.

Donna Reifschneider has been involved in local, county, state and national farm organizations for more than 30 years.

She joined the St. Clair County (IL) Pork Producers, then served as district director for the Illinois Porkettes. She was president of the Illinois Pork Association Women in 1988-89.

Reifschneider served as Illinois' national director to the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) from 1992 to 1999. She became the first woman president of NPPC in 1998-99. She also negotiated trade issues with a multitude of international trading partners.

From 1999 through 2002, she was a member of the executive committee of the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

Reifschneider also participated in Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar's Committee on Animal Agriculture, the University of Illinois Blue Ribbon Task Force on Extension, and the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation.

In 2002, she was named administrator of the USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA). Reifschneider left GIPSA in December 2004 to return to her family's hog farm in Smithton, IL.

Willard & Carnell Korsmeyer, Beardstown, Ill.

For more than 40 years, Willard and Carnell Korsmeyer were known as the most effective “power couple” for the pork industry.

Willard always said he was almost famous for all the wrong reasons. His was one of the first farms to become infected with pseudorabies (PRV) in 1975. Lessons learned during the '70s and '80s fighting pseudorabies (PRV) brought Willard's talents to bear in membership on the National Pork Producers Council's PRV Committee. There, he championed an industry-wide effort to eradicate PRV.

Carnell concentrated her industry service in pork promotion and policy-making leadership roles, first with the National Porkettes, later serving on various National Pork Board committees and as president, 1996-97.

Throughout their careers, the Korsmeyers reinforced their long-standing conviction that “if we are going to be involved with an endeavor, we should commit ourselves to make the best possible effort.”

Lorraine Harness, New Hartford, Mo.

Lorraine Harness was very active in local, state and national pork producer affairs.

She served two years as county president, was state treasurer and served six years as national director for the Missouri Pork Council Women.

Harness served on the National Pork Council Women (NPCW) committees on membership and promotion, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) Building Committee, the State and Associate Relations Policy Development Group, the Resource Development Policy Group and both NPCW and NPPC executive committees.

Harness served two terms as NPCW vice president and one term as NPCW president. She emphasized revitalizing producer membership, animal welfare, pork quality and the Speaker Care Program to increase interest in becoming industry spokespersons. Harness emphasized the vital role that women could play in being effective communicators for agriculture and the pork industry.

Harness is a graduate of the University of Missouri with a degree in accounting and went on to complete an MBA degree. She taught economics and accounting at a junior college, worked for Cargill in finance and management and was self-employed as a financial analyst for agricultural businesses.

Also nominated: Bernard Collins; Robert Dykhuis; John Hardin, Jr.; Ron Kahle; Ralph Howe; Moe Mohesky; John Saunders; Jack Rundquist; Allen Keppy; William Prestage; Mike Wehler; Paul McNutt; Marion Steddom; Glenn Keppy; Eldon Juhl; Bob Christensen; Ken & Julie Maschhoff; LaVerne (Dutch) Johnson; William Rothenberger; Bill Buller; Ritchie & Millie Jordan; Charles R. Miller; Roy Sharp; Karl Johnson; Linden Olson; Jon Caspers; Jasper DeVore and Carmen Jorgensen.


Emmett Stevermer, Ames, Iowa

Most notable about the 26-year career of Iowa State University swine Extension agent Emmet Stevermer was his development of the Iowa Swine Enterprise Accounting System, used by hundreds of pork producers.

Stevermer developed the system in the late '60s, before producers realized the importance of keeping records, says a colleague.

He served on the advisory committee of the National Pork Industry Handbook since it began, three years on the Reproduction Committee of the National Swine Improvement Federation and seven years on the Production Committee of the National Pork Producers Council.

He provided primary leadership for the Iowa Master Pork Producers Program for 25 years, and was named an Honorary Iowa Master Pork Producer in 1975. He also received Iowa State's Outstanding Extension Educator Award in 1980 and the Extension Award from the American Society of Animal Science in 1986.

Glenn Grimes, Columbia, Mo.

Glenn Grimes' remarkable 50-plus-year career in the livestock industry started out in 1951 when he was a county agricultural Extension agent in southern Missouri.

Following that five-year stint, he served from 1956 to 1985 as livestock marketing specialist for the Missouri Extension Service.

From 1970 to 1984, Grimes also taught a course in livestock marketing at the University of Missouri-Columbia and assisted with research projects in livestock marketing each year. He authored or co-authored numerous publications or scientific journal articles and thousands of popular press articles on livestock production, livestock prices and marketing.

From 1985 to the present, Grimes has been semi-retired and holds the rank of professor emeritus, while working part-time in the University of Missouri's Department of Agricultural Economics.

He has consulted for 30 organizations and individuals, including the National Pork Producers Council and the National Pork Board.

Grimes was honored with the President's Award from the Missouri Pork Producers Association in 2001, the Distinguished Service Award from National Hog Farmer in 1993 and the Distinguished Service Award from the National Pork Producers Council in 1994.

George Richard (Dick) Carlisle, Broken Bow, Okla.

Dick Carlisle's accomplishments during his 26 years at the University of Illinois rank him as one of the foremost livestock extension specialists in the nation. His achievements include:

  • Helped start live hog evaluation and carcass demonstrations, which led to producer acceptance of the value of carcass merit;

  • Guided development of the “Probe and Weigh” Program and eight producer-owned test stations;

  • Helped organize the state spring barrow show;

  • Guided the start of cooperative marketing of feeder pigs and feeder cattle;

  • Coordinated county and multi-county swine schools and seminars; and

  • Helped popularize the Illinois fortified corn-soy swine ration now used throughout the United States.

Carlisle was well respected as a swine judge at county, state and national levels. And, he contributed to the advancement of research into beef cattle and swine nutrition programs.

He was the recipient of the National Pork Producers Council Distinguished Service Award in 1988, the Illinois Purebred Swine Council Distinguished Service Award and the National Hog Farmer Distinguished Service Award.

The Department of Animal Sciences established the G.R. Carlisle Award for Excellence in Extension Teaching when he retired in 1977.

Gilbert Hollis, Urbana, Ill.

Gilbert Hollis retired as a swine extension specialist at the University of Illinois in 2003, after 33 years of service, 26 in Illinois and seven in Texas.

Hollis now serves as emeritus and part-time swine specialist at the University of Illinois. He has excelled in helping pork producers of all types and sizes survive and adapt.

He was instrumental in organizing the University of Illinois Pork Industry Conferences and the Executive Producer Program.

He created the highly popular PorkNet Web site and is a certified assessor for the On-Farm Assessment and Environmental Review. Additionally, he advises two pork producer buying co-ops in the state.

Among his achievements are the Education and Distinguished Service awards from the Illinois Pork Producers Association, the Department of Animal Sciences G.R. Carlisle Award for Excellence in Extension Teaching, the Senior Faculty Award for Excellence in Extension from the University of Illinois College of Agriculture and the Extension Award from the American Society of Animal Science.

Don Levis, Ithaca, Neb.

Don Levis' track record as an extension swine specialist at the University of Nebraska and director of the Ohio Pork Industry Center spans several decades.

Levis has consulted with an estimated 1,136 swine enterprises in the United States and worked in 11 foreign countries, providing essential information, training and troubleshooting swine reproductive problems.

Levis has spoken at more than 600 pork producer meetings, and published more than 140 Extension-type publications on swine breeding facility design, artificial insemination and reproductive management. And, he has developed numerous computer software programs dealing with breeding and housing.

He has received more than a dozen service awards including those sponsored by the University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Nebraska Pork Producers Association.

Levis now serves as an extension educator with the Saunders County Extension Service in Ithaca, NE.

Ed Miller, East Lansing, Mich.

Described as a “doer,” not a “philosopher,” Ed Miller presented his practical approach and knowledge to all facets of pork production from his early years in county Extension work through his Extension swine specialist career at Michigan State University (MSU).

Miller was responsible for the University Swine Center, where he coordinated research in swine nutrition, physiology, waste management, and taught swine production courses. He was widely recognized for designing innovative, under-slat flushing systems and improving water recycling methods.

Miller formed the first Michigan Farm Management Tour, launched the MSU Annual Swine Day, and introduced on-campus swine short courses. He was largely responsible for establishing the swine testing station and live hog grading at several markets in the state — considered a real breakthrough. He also brought the Spring Barrow Show to campus, which allowed him to demonstrate how production and marketing practices relate to the final quality and value of the product.

Miller was a leader in the state's hog cholera eradication program, which resulted in Michigan being one of the first to be declared hog cholera-free. He also helped organize the National Swine Growers' Council in 1954 and became the first university staff person to serve on the board of directors.

Wilbur Bruner, Columbus, Ohio

Sometimes referred to as the “father of swine performance testing,” Wilbur Bruner was instrumental in establishing the first test station in the United States.

In 1946, serving as an extension agent in Preble County, OH, Bruner set up pens in the fairground's hog barn to measure the true production costs of different types of pigs. Although a bit crude, the arrangement was the precursor to test stations built and popularized across the United States in succeeding decades.

Bruner's tenacity in advancing performance testing, and his personal service to pork producers in teaching meat hog production and pork improvement, earned him accolades across the country. More precisely, his work was recognized for its many contributions to the Meat-Type Hog Education committee and was presented the American Society of Animal Production Extension award. In 1962, he received the National Hog Farmer Outstanding Service award.

Michael C. Brumm, Concord, Neb.

For more than two decades, University of Nebraska Extension Swine Specialist Mike Brumm has been a leading source of practical production information to pork producers.

Brumm is considered an expert in grow-finish swine management systems and is also known as a strong proponent of production recordkeeping systems.

Brumm is recognized nationally and internationally for his ability to apply economic impact to management decisions.

A speaker at more than 600 pork industry meetings, Brumm has consulted on more than 1,200 hog operations.

He also has authored numerous articles in animal science, veterinary and pork production journals, dealing with everything from space allocation and nutrition in grow-finish systems to managing growth variation.

Brumm has served on various committees for the National Pork Producers Council and the National Pork Board and on the advisory committee to the Pork Industry Handbook.

Awards include a Pork Industry Service Award from the Nebraska Pork Producers Association in 1992 and Excellence in Extension Programming in 1988 from the Nebraska Cooperative Extension Association.

M.D. “Mack” Whitaker, Lexington, Ky.

“Enthusiastic, dedicated and unique personality” are words most often used to describe “Mack” Whitaker's career with the Extension Service and his unyielding support of the pork industry.

His jovial manner and quick wit served him well as swine extension specialist at Iowa State University from 1961 to 1967. In 1967, he moved to the University of Kentucky as extension professor of animal science, a position he held until 1981, when he assumed an administrator's role at the university until his retirement.

Born and raised in Kentucky, Whitaker graduated from the University of Kentucky with a doctor of philosophy degree in 1961. A popular judge at swine shows throughout the world, he spent countless hours helping pork producers solve problems, promoting the checkoff, grilling pork chops, educating and entertaining producers and consumers.

Whitaker served as co-chairman of the Louisville Barrow Show for many years. In 1980, he was recognized with the National Hog Farmer Outstanding Service Award.

Also nominated: Bill Luce; Robert Fritschen; Wayne Singleton; J.R. (Bob) Jones; Gene Isler; Jim Foster; Vern Mayrose; Jack Kelly; H.G. Zavoral; Harry Russell; Wendall Moyer; Ralph (Bull) Durham; T.D. Tanksley; Dave Spruill; Maynard Hogberg.

Facility Engineering

Arthur J. Muehling, Champaign, Ill.

Art Muehling served the University of Illinois as professor and extension agricultural engineer from 1959 through 1992, when he retired as professor emeritus.

Muehling's contributions to the pork industry were concentrated in three areas:

  • Pioneered intensive systems for swine housing for 40 years and was an early advocate of slotted floors.

  • Developed and promoted “best management practices” for livestock manure management to safeguard the environment before environmental stewardship became a public issue.

  • Built close cooperation between the United States and European experts on swine housing and manure handling systems through his 30-year association as the U.S. representative to Section 2 (Farm Buildings) of the International Society of Agricultural Engineering.

In 1968-69, the National Pork Producers Council funded a study by Muehling, entitled, “Swine Housing and Waste Management — A Research Review,” used throughout the United States and many other countries. Six fact sheets were developed to help producers with swine facility design and management questions.

Muehling received the Illinois Pork Producers Association Education Award in 1974, the Farm Builders Hall of Fame award in 1984 and the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service Award for Sustained Excellence in 1985.

Also nominated: Lyle B. White; Frank Brummer; Al Mueller; Vern Meyer; Tommy Herring; Chuck Sands; Bynum Driggers; Al Sutton.


Lauren Christian, Ames, Iowa

Born and raised on a farm near LaPorte City, IA, Lauren Christian would become known throughout the world for his work in swine genetics, pork quality and a legion of students left to continue his work.

Christian spent most of his 31-year academic career at Iowa State University. He was the first to characterize the porcine stress syndrome (PSS), identify its cause, and develop techniques for identifying afflicted and carrier pigs. Christian developed the halothane-screening test, universally recognized as the most accurate PSS screening test for over 20 years.

His foresight in developing a line of stress-gene carriers made it possible for researchers around the world to study the disease. This research had major impacts on reducing producer losses, improving pork quality, and led to the use of PSS pigs as animal models for human disorders.

Christian's research focused on increasing the rate of genetic improvement and his studies of feed conversion, growth, development and carcass evaluation led to major revisions in methods for evaluating market hog performance and developing performance testing indexes.

Christian received numerous Iowa State and national teaching awards, plus outstanding service awards from the National Pork Producers Council, National Swine Improvement Federation, National Hog Farmer and the Rockefeller Prentice Award in Animal Breeding and Genetics.

Perhaps his greatest contribution remains in the professional careers and personal lives of over 5,000 students, while teaching 10 different courses and serving as academic advisor to over 400 undergraduates. Christian also served as major professor to 16 Ph.D. and 46 M.S. degree students. Many called him teacher, mentor and friend.

Lanoy Hazel, Ames, Iowa

Described as “a brilliant man with intuitive insight into very complex problems,” Lanoy Hazel is said to have “investigated problems with great vigor and often developed theoretical insights while seeking practical solutions.”

These descriptions aptly describe his Ph.D. thesis, which sought to provide the necessary theory to solve the practical problem of selecting breeding animals for several traits at one time. He defined the parameters necessary for developing a selection index and introduced the concept of genetic correlations and how to estimate them.

Just six years after receiving his Ph.D. from Iowa State University, at age 36, Hazel was invited back to the university as professor of animal breeding.

One student in particular, C.H. Henderson, applied Hazel's guidance in his thesis and initiated a new set of theories known as best linear unbiased prediction (BLUP). BLUP has become the standard for using selection indexes for ranking breeding animals throughout the world. Hazel also pioneered development of on-farm performance recording in swine, the testing program eventually initiated by breed associations.

In contrast to the statistically complex indexing procedures, Hazel developed the ingenious and simple use of a thin metal ruler to measure backfat depth. A collaborative experiment with E.A. Kline showed the accuracy of measuring backfat on live animals was actually better than measuring fat depth on a carcass.

Recognized for his ability as a statistician, Hazel had a greater enthusiasm for the biological aspects of breeding. His contributions are well summarized in his Iowa State biography: “Many direct students and other students of his research have been instrumental in the implementation across species of performance testing, genetic evaluation, and selection indexes both in traditional purebred segments and in corporate breeding organizations of the United States and around the world.”

Also nominated: Harold Hodson; Chuck Henderson; Rodger Johnson; Max Rothschild; Allan Schinkel; Keith Olson; Dewey Harris.


Roger Gerrits, Adelphi, Md.

Roger Gerrits served the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service in research and administrative positions from 1963 until his retirement in 1998.

Gerrits' leadership advanced research efforts in physiology, genetics and reproduction, including estrous synchronization, frozen semen and embryos in swine, the first effective method of sex pre-selection of livestock and humans, the first transgenic swine and the first genetic linkage maps for cattle, sheep, swine and poultry.

In 1992, Gerrits served as leader and coordinator for the establishment of the National Animal Germplasm Program.

He also provided guidance for the national swine identification program, the control and eradication programs for trichinosis, toxoplasmosis and pseudorabies, and to the safety of antimicrobials, hormones and sulfas.

Gerrits assisted in forming the National Swine Improvement Federation and the National Pork Producers Council with the development of the Pork Industry Handbook.

In 40 years, he authored or co-authored over 100 scientific and technical publications on animal agriculture.

Gerrits was presented the 2001 Fellow Award by the American Society of Animal Science, given to members who have provided distinguished service to the animal industry for 25 years or more.

Frank Mulhern, DVM, Washington, D.C.

Frank Mulhern served for more than 40 years in government and industry as a leader in animal disease eradication.

His career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began in 1947 as a young veterinarian assigned to the Mexico-U.S. Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) Eradication Program in Mexico. At its close in 1952, over 60 million animals had been vaccinated.

Just back from Mexico, he went to work on FMD eradication in Canada.

In the '60s, he played a key role in the hog cholera and brucellosis eradication efforts.

Mulhern held top positions in USDA's Agricultural Research Service and in 1972 was named administrator of the newly created Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. In that post, he battled against Newcastle disease.

In 1980, he retired from USDA to work on the successful program to eradicate African swine fever from the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

In later years, Mulhern also served the National Pork Producers Council as a consultant on animal disease matters.

USDA honored him with the agency's Superior Service Award and the Distinguished Service Award. His efforts in implementing the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act earned him the Albert Switzer Medal Award.

Also nominated: Don Van Houweling; James Leafstedt.


Elwyn Miller, East Lansing, Mich.

Elwyn Miller of Michigan State University (MSU) had a national and international reputation as a top researcher in swine nutrition. Much of what is known about the vitamin and trace mineral needs of the baby pig was the direct result of research completed by Miller and his colleagues.

Miller is known as one of the pioneers in the use of iron dextran injections; he and colleagues directed more work into baby pig anemia than any other group in the United States.

Miller and his group also determined baby pig requirements for riboflavin, thiamin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, vitamin A, vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc and selenium.

Bone strength measures developed by Miller's group became the accepted standard procedure for calcium and phosphorus studies. His vitamin E studies documented the need for supplementation in the swine diet.

In later years, Miller's research demonstrated an 80% availability of lysine in the flash-dried process.

He received the Morrison Award from the American Society of Animal Science in 1984, was named a Fellow of the society, and received the designation of distinguished professor from MSU in 1987.

Virgil Hays, Lexington, Ky.

Virgil Hays, Scovell Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the College of Agriculture at the University of Kentucky (UK), was considered one of the premier international authorities in swine nutrition.

His classic studies on the enzyme development and utilization of nutrients by baby pigs in the '50s and '60s laid the foundation for the development of early weaning pig diets.

His research on amino acids and minerals formed the basis for proper formulation of corn-soybean meal diets for pigs.

Hays' pioneering work on the efficacy of copper sulfate and antibiotics as growth promotants, and later work on factors impacting antibiotic resistance in swine, are recognized worldwide.

His research on antibiotics led to his advocacy for developing rational policies for the proper use of antibiotics in swine, based on scientific fact.

Those efforts in the early '80s led to action by Congress that prevented the Food and Drug Administration from acting on its proposal to ban the use of penicillin and tetracyclines in animal feeds. He participated in many Congressional hearings on the subject.

Hays served for 15 years as the chairman of the Department of Animal Sciences at UK.

Jim Nelssen, Manhattan, Kan.

Jim Nelssen, professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at Kansas State University (KSU), has assembled one of the most progressive swine extension programs in the country, focused on delivering the latest technology to pork producers.

Success has been evident with producers of all sizes saving thousands of dollars annually by lowering feed costs per pound of pork produced.

Under Nelssen's guidance, the KSU extension team has developed an intensive on-farm research program to help producers solve production problems and evaluate new technologies.

Many programs have been multi-state or regional. For example, KSU conducted all of the extension programs for Colorado from 1991 to 1999.

Nelssen is currently developing the framework to establish a Center of Excellence in Swine Nutrition, positioning KSU's swine extension program as a national resource for applied swine nutrition information.

Nelssen's vision has extended to encouraging producer networks as a means of keeping smaller producers in the swine industry. As a result, Kansas now has four, 1,500-sow cooperatives.

Mike Tokach, Manhattan, Kan.

In 15 years of service as a researcher and swine extension specialist at Kansas State University (KSU), Mike Tokach has accumulated a noteworthy collection of accomplishments.

With a 50% research, 50% extension appointment, Tokach and his research team have:

  • Demonstrated that pigs housed in commercial facilities consume about 30% less feed than pigs in research facilities, which has advanced the understanding of energy density of the diet.

  • In collaboration with Purdue University's Allen Schinkel, developed the process of using serial ultrasound to model nutrient requirements of grow-finish pigs based on actual protein and lipid accretion. This finding has been used to more closely target amino acid requirements and reduce nitrogen and phosphorus excretion in swine manure.

Tokach has also excelled in developing production-system-specific nutrient requirements and feed budgeting.

Nutritionists across the United States, Canada, Mexico and Asia formulate swine diets based on research Tokach has led. Key areas include diets for early weaned pigs, matching nutrient fortification with lean tissue deposition in finishing pigs and nutrient requirements of high-producing sows.

Also nominated: Frank B. Morrison; Carl Akey; Damon Catron; Vaughn Speer; Jake Hofer; Robert Grummer; Les Hanson; Ernie Peo; Gary Cromwell; John Swisher.


Carroll Plager, Austin, Minn.

As a hog buyer for Geo. A. Hormel & Company at Austin, MN, Carroll Plager was a pioneer in the pork packing business. He helped launch grade and yield hog marketing programs and the National Barrow Show (NBS). He was the first NBS superintendent, and his service spanned 25 years.

The Lean Meat Certification Program helped producers with better hogs sell them on a grade and yield basis and reap the rewards.

He influenced Hormel to become the first pork packing company to implement the implied consent pork checkoff plan in 1968, to support the research and promotional efforts of the fledgling National Pork Producers Council.

He edited the Hormel Farmer for 25 years, instilling pride in pork producers and profit in the entire pork industry.

Plager was the first recipient of the National Hog Farmer Award for Outstanding Service to the Swine Industry. In 1984, he was honored as a charter member of the Pork Industry Hall of Fame.

Bernard Ebbing, Waterloo, Iowa

Bernard Ebbing was a 28-year employee of Rath Packing Co., Waterloo, Iowa, serving for many years as livestock services director.

In that capacity, he worked closely with the Extension Service to improve pork quality. His efforts led to development of swine testing stations at Iowa State University and New Hampton, IA. He was also a leader in the utilization of cross-sectional views of pork carcasses to evaluate quality.

Ebbing was a noted swine judge across the country, having participated in the national conferences of all eight major swine breeds and every major barrow show in the United States.

For 25 years, he served as chairman of the International Collegiate Livestock Judging Contest. He also served as chairman of the Livestock Conservation Institute from 1971 to 1974.

Honors include the National Hog Farmer Award for Outstanding Service and induction into the Pork Industry Hall of Fame in 1987.

Joseph W. Luter III, Smithfield, Va.

Joseph W. Luter III is chairman and CEO of Smithfield Foods Inc., the world's largest hog producer and pork processor.

Under Luter's leadership, in the last quarter century, Smithfield has vertically integrated production and processing in the United States and internationally, achieving annual receipts in excess of $9 billion. At the heart of Luter's strategy is Smithfield's proprietary National Pig Development (NPD) genetics, used to produce its Lean Generation fresh pork products.

Luter has stressed environmental stewardship. In 2000, Smithfield voluntarily entered into a landmark agreement with the North Carolina attorney general, providing $15 million to fund research into environmentally superior technologies to treat swine waste. North Carolina State University's Animal and Poultry Waste Management Center is conducting the work.

Smithfield's U.S. hog farms developed the world's first comprehensive environmental management system for hog operations, capturing the prestigious ISO 14001 certification from the Geneva-based International Organization for Standardization.

Smithfield, its livestock production subsidiary Murphy-Brown, and the state of North Carolina teamed up in 2004 to develop an environmental management system available free to U.S. producers.

Also nominated: L.B. Outlaw; George Hormel; Cliff Carnes; Burroughs Lundy; Gene Leman; Merle LeSage; Gary Mahan.

Pork Quality

Robert G. Kauffman, Princeton, Mo.

Robert Kauffman was an accomplished instructor during his 30-year academic career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, training and motivating students as well as business leaders.

He developed the “Meat Animal Evaluation Approach” to evaluating livestock, providing a competitive program for animal science students. He coordinated student meat animal evaluation competitions for about 10,000 students during his career.

His “Academic Quadrathlon,” a four-part competition testing the knowledge of livestock, dairy and poultry teams, gained popularity across the country.

His “Livestock and Meat Marketing” course, one of his outstanding teaching accomplishments, prepared students to work in the meat industry. Students traveled and worked in small teams to address major industry problems.

Kauffman developed three meat science bulletins used around the world, most notably, “Guidelines to Evaluate Market Hog Performance and Meat Quality.”

Kauffmann conducted extensive research on meat animal composition and quality.

During sabbatical studies in The Netherlands, he discovered a fourth definable lean quality type in pork — red, soft and exudative (RSE) lean.

He was the leader of a research team at the university that patented the use of sodium bicarbonate to improve pork color, tenderness and water-holding capacity.

Kauffman was inducted into the Wisconsin Meat Industry Hall of Fame.

He retired in 1995, is professor emeritus, and currently manages the family farm in Princeton, MO.

Also nominated: Dave Topel; Ed Kline; Robert Rust; Robert Bray.

Records Management

Tom Stein, DVM, Eagan, Minn.

When it comes to swine production recordkeeping, Tom Stein's name quickly comes to mind.

For his Ph.D. project at the University of Minnesota, Stein designed and helped develop the PigChamp recordkeeping system used around the world.

In 1990, he founded Knowledgeworks, Inc., a management consulting and software development firm aimed at helping large-scale producers with financial and business planning.

In 1995, Stein introduced the first audiotape journal for the pork industry. “Inside the Swine Industry” is a monthly, 90-minute report of key research, analysis and production information for professional pork producers.

In 1998, Stein launched, a business Web site, along with “PorkNet's Daily Update,” providing over 3,000 e-mail subscribers with news and production information.

Knowledgeworks was acquired by MetaFarms in 1999, and Stein serves as chief executive officer and a director of the company.


Billy N. Day, Columbus, Mo.

As a scientist in reproductive biology, Billy Day is the rare individual who has contributed to his profession as a researcher, a teacher and in applicable service to the swine industry in the United States and internationally.

Day investigated the basic mechanisms controlling the reproductive process in farm animals, then used this knowledge to develop management techniques to increase reproductive efficiency, particularly in swine.

His long-time interest has been to understand the interactions between the female reproductive cycle, embryonic development and establishing pregnancy. He has investigated the mechanisms controlling reproductive cycles and used that knowledge to synchronize estrus and control ovulation.

Day was one of the first to show that prostaglandin F2-alpha effectively induces parturition, thus allowing producers to synchronize and supervise farrowings.

He has successfully experimented with using sexed semen to fertilize eggs, in vitro, and produced at least eight litters of all gilts.

Day and colleagues at the University of Missouri provided some of the first artificial insemination training to producers in 1974.

His self-professed goal is “to leave something that producers can actually use.”

In addition, Day's impressive record of advising and training future scientists in reproductive biology includes 16 postdoctoral trainees, 23 Ph.D. candidates and 28 M.S. students.

Also nominated: Vern Pursel; Lawrence Johnson; Neal First; Bo Crabo; H.L. Self.


Wilbur Plager, West Lafayette, Ind.

The adjectives used to describe the man and his style are many and varied, but they include arbiter, agitator, motivator, breed secretary and, most assuredly, industry leader.

Raised on a farm near Grundy Center, IA, Plager began leaving his mark on the pork industry as field secretary of the Iowa Swine Producers Association. He was a strong supporter of the Iowa Swine Testing Station, the Meat Hog Certification program, and the Iowa Master Pork Producers program.

Plager served as the first president of the National Swine Growers Council, the forerunner of the National Pork Producers Council.

He was instrumental in launching National Hog Farmer magazine, the first publication devoted solely to the pork industry.

He served 15 years as executive secretary of the American Yorkshire Club and was widely sought out to judge hog shows, having tackled that task in 36 states and three foreign countries.

Plager received the National Hog Farmer's Outstanding Service Award in 1963 and was inducted into the Pork Industry Hall of Fame in 1984.

Willard & Max Waldo, DeWitt, Neb.

The Waldo name is synonymous with Duroc hogs in the United States, having established their herd in 1895.

After graduating from the University of Nebraska in 1934, Willard took jobs in the packing business, teaching and county extension work. In 1937, he selected the best boar and seven top gilts from his father's herd to begin his own.

A strong believer in the principles of agricultural science, Willard was one of the first to weigh pigs at birth, at weaning and at marketing time, and use the information to guide his selection program.

In 1941, he and his wife, Beuhla, bought her home farm near DeWitt, the present-day headquarters of Waldo Durocs.

In 1948, Waldo Durocs topped a University of Nebraska test comparing all breeds and crossbreds.

In 1956, Waldo Farms was the first U.S. herd to have an extension agent use a backfat probe to measure backfat of the entire herd. The results were used in a selection program aimed at reducing fat levels in the herd.

The first caesarian-derived Waldo nucleus herd was established in 1959. This marked the end of public breeding stock sales in lieu of private sales to protect the herd and avoid disease spread.

In 1960, son Max graduated from the University of Nebraska and became a full partner in the enterprise. He guided the development of the SPF herd and established an extensive, whole-herd performance testing and selection program.

Since 1970, Waldo Farms has been the world's oldest and largest performance-tested, registered Duroc herd. Willard Waldo received the National Hog Farmer Outstanding Service Award in 1975.

Landrace and Yorkshire stock were added in 1976.

Computer-based estimated breeding values (EBVs) have been calculated since 1983 to accelerate genetic improvement. Best linear unbiased prediction (BLUP) EBVs selection index was implemented in 1992, instrumental in Waldo Farms' leading the “rate of genetic improvement” ranking by the National Swine Registry in 2000.

Kenneth W. Woolley, Franklin, Ky.

Ken Woolley left an indelible imprint on the seedstock industry in the United States. Together with five farming partners he founded Pig Improvement Company (PIC) in England in 1962. PIC launched its U.S. operations in Spring Green, WI, in 1973.

Under Woolley's leadership, straight lines of distribution and minimal disease concepts were developed in the 1970s. With the help of other industry leaders, Woolley guided PIC to develop the first vet-to-vet communication in the shipment of breeding stock.

The concept of Isowean (also known as segregated early weaning or medicated early weaning) was commercialized by Woolley with the assistance of industry partners as a way to break the disease cycle from sow to offspring.

In short, Woolley's genius was his ability to take disease principles like Specific Pathogen Free (SPF) and genetic principles and adapt them to commercial use.

Roy Poage, DeKalb, Ill.

This native of Plainview, TX, was active in the swine breeding stock business his entire career.

Poage and his father-in-law, T. Euel Liner, formed a partnership in 1959 to produce breeding stock. Two years later, they founded Lubbock Swine Breeders, one of the first Specific-Pathogen-Free (SPF) herds in the United States.

The company was a pioneer in swine genetics and management practices, including all-in, all-out production and the use of slotted floors.

Additionally, Poage developed the basic design of a breeding-gestation barn in 1964, which gained wide acceptance throughout the industry.

When Lubbock Swine Breeders merged with DeKalb Swine Breeders in 1972, Poage became general manager. He was named president of the group in 1980.

Poage is past president of the Texas Pork Producers Association and the Texas SPF Association, and past chairman of the Livestock Conservation Institute's emergency disease committee.

Hilman Schroeder, Sauk City, Wis.

A life-long career began in the pork industry at the age of 13 when Hilman Schroeder purchased a Yorkshire bred sow.

The herd grew to 170 Large White and Landrace sows in the '80s, with primary emphasis placed on improving sow productivity.

Schroeder's accomplishments over the years cover a broad range, from topping the National Barrow Show carcass contest at age 18, to service as a board member of the National Pork Producers Council, director of the American Yorkshire Club, and as the first vice president of the National Pork Board and later as president.

He was one of the founders of the Wisconsin Pork Producers Association and worked tirelessly to organize county groups in the state. He was also actively involved in pseudorabies control issues.

Schroeder was recognized with the National Hog Farmer Outstanding Service award in 1981, and received the University of Wisconsin's Award of Distinction.

Jim Nance, Alamo, Tenn.

Jim Nance was the producer's politician. He served three terms as president of the National Swine Growers Council, the predecessor of the National Pork Producers Council.

While president of the National Live Stock and Meat Board, he led the fight to permit a voluntary pork checkoff with markets automatically deducting the funds.

Nance devoted long hours traversing the country and traveling to Washington, DC, selling the idea of a national pork checkoff program.

Nance served as president of the Hampshire Swine Registry, was appointed to President John Kennedy's National Agricultural Advisory Committee and served on the National Live Stock & Meat Board from 1958 to 1974.

He received National Hog Farmer's Outstanding Service Award in 1984 and the National Pork Producers Council's Hall of Fame Award in 1985.

Also nominated: Darrell Anderson; T. Euel Liner; Rollie Pemberton; John Soorholtz; Fred Haley; Fran Callahan; Earl L . Lasley; Bob & Connie Greene; Harold Boucher; William G. Nash; Bill Funderburg; Glenn Conatser; C.W. Mitchell; Everrett Forkner; Jack Rodibaugh; Eduardo Avalos.

Swine Health

Roy Schultz, DVM, Avoca, Iowa

Roy Schultz is truly a Renaissance man in swine veterinary and pork industry circles.

Schultz was in a mostly swine practice with partner Robert Wunder, DVM, from 1960 to 1979, when he took a producer's problem back to Iowa State University (ISU) from which he graduated in 1960. The problem was Haemophilus pleuropneumonia, now known as Actinobacillus pleuropneumonia. He worked out the cause of the disease, developed serological tests and ways of detection, treatment and early means of prevention. He later developed a federally licensed vaccine.

Schultz returned to Avoca, IA, in 1981, setting up a swine practice while completing his master's degree in microbiology and preventive medicine at ISU.

Schultz worked internationally for the U.S. Feed Grains Council and privately for the Polish swine industry.

From 1972 to 1986, Schultz and a partner owned and operated a 750-sow, farrow-to-finish operation.

Schultz worked with early innovators and integrators in the swine industry. He owned and operated two private research facilities, conducting research on many facets of swine health and production.

Schultz presented over 100 papers and wrote swine health articles in many popular farming and hog publications.

He was president of the American Association of Swine Practitioners in 1984, Swine Practitioner of the Year in 1986 and was named life member of the group in 2003. He serves on the executive board of the U.S. Animal Health Association (USAHA) and has been a veterinary representative to the USAHA for over 15 years.

Allen Leman, DVM, Webster City, Iowa

Despite Al Leman's untimely death at age 48 in 1992, he lived a full life.

Born and raised on a farm near Eureka, IL, he quickly completed undergraduate, veterinary medicine and Ph.D. programs at the University of Illinois, then accepted a faculty position at the University of Minnesota's College of Veterinary Medicine.

While at Minnesota, he helped create the Swine Center, edited the widely used textbook, “Diseases of Swine,” and developed the international newsletter PigLetter.

In 1986, Leman left Minnesota to become a partner in Swine Graphics, a pork-producing enterprise at Webster City, IA.

He helped found the Minnesota Swine Herd Health Programming Conference in 1974 and after his death, the conference was renamed in his honor.

The University of Minnesota also established the Leman Chair, funded by the university, friends, farmers, veterinarians, agribusiness and colleagues.

One of Leman's lasting legacies is the fact that when he arrived at the University of Minnesota in 1974, he was the only faculty member in swine medicine. When he left 11 years later, there was a six-member swine medicine group, now considered one of the premier programs in the world.

Richard Ross, DVM, Ames, Iowa

Richard Ross maintained an active research program in swine respiratory disease during his long administrative career at Iowa State University (ISU).

He has published over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts on Pasteurella multocida, Bordetella bronchiseptica, Actinobacillus pleuropneumonia, Actinobacillus suis and systemic and respiratory mycoplasmal diseases of swine.

Ross' work was instrumental in the development of the first atrophic rhinitis vaccines, the first mycoplasma vaccines and the first vaccines for Actinobacillus pleuropneumonia.

He was also the author of the chapter on mycoplasma diseases in the “Diseases of Swine” textbook that serves as the international resource for swine health and production.

Ross was responsible for securing funding for the construction of a new livestock infectious disease isolation facility at ISU.

After several years working at ISU's Veterinary Medical Research Institute (VMRI), he served as professor-in-charge from 1985 to 1990, associate director from 1990 to 1992, and held several positions in the College of Veterinary Medicine, including dean from 2000 to 2002.

He has served as distinguished professor in the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Preventive Medicine from 2002 to 2005.

Paul B. Doby, DVM, Springfield, Ill.

Paul Doby's name is practically synonymous with national animal disease programs.

When he joined the Illinois Department of Agriculture in 1962, he was thrust into the middle of the hog cholera fight, developing a statewide eradication program and spearheading the essential effort to end garbage feeding to hogs.

His strong efforts made Illinois the first state to eliminate trichinosis and one of the first to eliminate swine brucellosis.

Under Doby's leadership, Illinois became the first state to develop both voluntary and mandatory cleanup programs for pseudorabies.

Doby was born into a poor farming family in Arkansas and rose to the position of superintendent, Division of Livestock Industry, Illinois Department of Agriculture, a position he held for nearly 30 years.

Doby received the National Hog Farmer Service Award in 1990, and in 1992 received the Career Achievement Award from the University of Illinois and a Special Achievement Award from Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar.

D.L. “Hank” Harris, DVM, Ames, Iowa

Hank Harris of Iowa State University (ISU) has applied his knowledge in swine diseases as a faculty member, hog farmer and vice president in charge of the health assurance program for PIC.

Harris began his research and teaching career at ISU in 1970 and by mid-1971 co-discovered the cause of swine dysentery and named a new disease agent, Brachyspira hyodysenteriae. He rose to associate professor in 1973 and became full professor in 1977.

From 1982 to 1987, Harris was CEO of NOBL Laboratories in Sioux Center, IA, and operated a farming enterprise near Rothville, MO. Vaccines for atrophic rhinitis and ileitis were developed and sold by NOBL due to Harris' work.

In 1987, Harris joined PIC, developing the concept of isolated weaning for the elimination of swine infectious agents. He returned to ISU in 1992 as professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Preventive Medicine.

Harris recognized the value of pre-harvest food safety and organized the first short course in 1994 on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) for the reduction of human food-borne pathogens from the pork chain.

William Switzer, DVM, Ames, Iowa

William Switzer was born and raised in Kansas, schooled in Texas, but spent his professional life in Iowa, where he made his mark as a swine researcher and administrator at Iowa State University (ISU).

He was credited with discovering the first known case of Mycoplasmal pneumonia in swine and for characterizing the polyseositis disease it causes. He also discovered the cause of Mycoplasmal arthritis and developed treatments for Bordetella bronchiseptica in swine.

Switzer served as a faculty member and administrator in the ISU College of Veterinary Medicine from 1948 until retiring as distinguished professor emeritus and associate dean for research in 1990.

His patented vaccines for atrophic rhinitis in pigs and kennel cough in dogs ranked high at ISU for patents generating royalty income. He was inducted into the Iowa Inventor's Hall of Fame in 1979.

The William P. Switzer Award was created to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to society and the ISU College of Veterinary Medicine.

Also nominated: Lewis J. Runnels; James McKean; James E. Allison; Alex Hogg; Charles Salsbury; Ralph Vinson; Harley Moon; Richard Hull; Joe Connor; Scott Dee; Howard Dunne; George Young; C.H. Kernkamp; Jan Schuiteman; Steve Henry.

Animal Welfare

Stanley Curtis, Urbana, Ill.

Stanley Curtis is considered a champion for science-based arguments in determining animal well-being. His stance has defined the course of the animal welfare debate and its regulation in the United States.

Curtis, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois, has advised about 120 undergraduate and 50 graduate students. Curtis and colleagues have contributed basic information on behavioral, physiologic and immune adaptive mechanisms (especially in pigs) through 115 papers, 145 abstracts, two books and 42 chapters.

Curtis earned three degrees at Purdue University. After graduation, he served on the University of Missouri dairy husbandry faculty from 1968 to 1970. He then joined the University of Illinois, establishing acclaimed research, teaching and outreach programs in livestock ecology, ethology and care.

From 1990 to 1995, he headed the Dairy and Animal Science Department at Pennsylvania State University, returning to the University of Illinois in 1998 as professor with the Animal Sciences Department.

He was named Fellow of the American Society of Animal Science in 2003 and Distinguished Service Award recipient of the National Pork Producers Council in 2001.

Also nominated: Temple Grandin; David Meisinger.


Hobart W. Jones, West Lafayette, Ind.

Hobart “Hobe” Jones served ably as a swine professor at Purdue University for 38 years.

He started his career in 1950, assigned to teaching swine production courses. In all, he instructed about 5,000 students from several areas in the School of Agriculture.

Jones was an innovative leader in finding ways to reduce labor while increasing productivity as producers moved from outdoors to confinement production.

Jones was a strong supporter of 4-H and FFA projects and held many demonstrations and “mini-schools” for youth.

For more than two decades, he judged numerous swine shows at the county, state and national level. Jones also judged at many Midwest state fairs and at the National Barrow Show.

His greatest achievement may have been his strong influence on college students in encouraging them to contribute to and improve the pork industry.

Al Christian, Ames, Iowa

Forty-four years ago, a young man from LaPorte City, IA, began a career at Iowa State University. Hired as herdsman of the university's swine teaching farm in 1959, Al Christian has been touching the lives of students and pork enthusiasts from around the world ever since.

The teaching farm is a vital part of the ISU animal science curriculum, providing animals for classes and educational events for 4-H, FFA, Extension, producer groups and foreign visitors.

Christian manages the daily activities of the farm, including genetic selection, nutrition, reproduction and performance testing. Many a student has sharpened his/her management and life skills by working side-by-side with Christian as a student or part-time worker.

Christian has judged national shows for all eight breeds, every major junior show in the United States, and internationally in Australia, Canada, Mexico and Japan.

He has exhibited countless champion barrows, truckloads and breeding animals, while serving as an officer and/or member on numerous breed association boards.

Perhaps one former student summarized his contributions best: “Al taught his students how to raise pigs, but perhaps even more important, he taught them about life — always emphasizing the vital role hog farming and agriculture play in the social fabric of rural America.”

Also nominated: Mark Pickel; Howard Miller; Dan Murphy; Bud Harmon; Dave Huinker; Dick Juhl; Jim Hillier; Ernie Barnes; Leon Olson; Harley Peters; Jesse Bell; Al Jensen; Fred Weidhuner; C.R. Mitchell; Neal Black; Bill Fleming; Dale Miller; Joe Vansickle; Marlys Miller; Al Opedahl.

Our Panel

Neal Black

Neal joined National Hog Farmer in 1957 as managing editor, coming from the Waterloo (IA) Courier, where he was reporter and farm editor. He succeeded C.R. Mitchell as editor in 1973.

Neal edited National Hog Farmer through hog cholera eradication, serving as chairman of the Livestock Conservation Institute (LCI) cholera committee, and during the great nitrate debate, when USDA Assistant Secretary Carol Foreman tried to eliminate nitrates in pork curing. Neal led the successful opposition.

Neal resigned from National Hog Farmer in 1980 to become president of LCI, where he led the pseudorabies (PRV) eradication effort. He was one of the founders of the newsletter Pigletter, which he edited for 14 years. He left LCI in early 1987, but he continued as a consultant on PRV eradication efforts until his resignation as secretary of the National Pseudorabies Control Board in 1997.

Now retired and living in St. Paul, Neal has been honored with awards by every industry association.

Bill Fleming

Bill served as third editor of National Hog Farmer from 1980 to 1993, followed by a year as editorial director of National Hog Farmer and BEEF magazines.

In retirement, Bill did freelance photography for a few years, including handling the photography and writing for the Environmental Stewards program, co-sponsored by National Hog Farmer and Pork Checkoff. Later, Bill did photography for Hennepin County Community Health Service (Minneapolis and suburbs). In recent years, Bill says he's laid his cameras down and has become “a full-time, retired old guy!”

Bill and Joan Fleming live in Eagan, MN.

Dale Miller

Dale is in his 32nd year with National Hog Farmer, having joined the editorial staff fresh out of the University of Minnesota with a bachelor of science degree in animal science. In those three-plus decades, he served as associate editor (1973-1977), then managing editor (1977-1993), and editor from 1993 to present.

Dale has traveled throughout the U.S. and to numerous foreign countries, studying and reporting on pork production.

Dale is actively involved in a business partnership, raising Chester White and Yorkshire breeding stock, F1 gilts and premium quality locker pork. Dale is single and lives on a 27-acre farm near Hampton, MN.

National Hog Farmer has given me a life rich with many good friends, travels and experiences I could never have imagined. I've spent many, many hours ‘talking hogs’ with the best, most sincere and generous people in the world — pork producers,” he says.

Joe Vansickle

Joe is currently in his 28th year on staff as senior editor. He joined National Hog Farmer in 1977, following 3½ years of reporting for the Albert Lea (MN) Tribune and as farm editor for the Fairmont (MN) Sentinel newspapers.

Joe has covered all facets of the hog industry, but animal health and regulatory issues are his main focus.

During the mid-1980s, he worked half time for both National Hog Farmer and BEEF, a sister publication. “I always found it fascinating, rotating from the glitz and glamour that seems to characterize the cattle industry to the down-home charm and warmth of the pork industry,” says Joe.

“One of the special benefits of this job has been the close working relationship I've been able to forge, and the many friends I've made, associating with the swine veterinary community.”

Joe and wife, Dawn, have four grown children and reside in Burnsville, MN.

Debra (Switzky) Neutkens

“Working for National Hog Farmer was my dream job — exactly what I wanted to do after graduating from the University of Wisconsin,” says Deb. “The pork industry was dynamic, the magazine was helping lead its progress, and I had an extreme fondness for pigs.”

As her favorite memories, Deb lists attending the American Pork Congress and on-farm visits for feature stories. “You could hardly walk the aisles at APC, it was so crowded. The late '70s and early '80s was a booming era for the industry, before integration and mergers cut farm numbers. Interviewing producers for articles always charged my batteries, and I never tired of the travel.

“I still hold producers and pigs dear, working as a freelance writer off and on for the last 16 years — mostly writing for National Hog Farmer and MetaFarms.

“What is it that keeps me and the other long-time editors dedicated to this industry? That's easy — the people,” she adds.

Deb and her husband, Paul, have two children. They live in White Bear Lake, MN.

Cynthia Clanton

Following stints at Hormel Foods and (the former) Livestock Conservation Institute working with Neal Black, Cynthia enjoyed eight rewarding years at National Hog Farmer.

“I counted my primary beats as production, nutrition and facilities, but had the opportunity to dig into nearly every aspect of the pork industry,” she says. “Every day brought new challenges and new knowledge.”

Since 1993, Cynthia has been at Colle+McVoy, a marketing communications firm in Minneapolis, where she works with leading agribusiness and other clients.

“My time at National Hog Farmer was a special chapter in my life because of the tremendous people who make up the pork industry. I will always be grateful for the folks who welcomed me into their offices, their pickup cabs and their kitchens to share pieces of their daily lives with me. They were always working to find a better way, a smarter solution, and they truly cared about the industry and each other. I learned something from each of them about commitment and passion for ideas; I hope I was able to convey some of that drive for excellence to National Hog Farmer readers.”

She and her husband, Chuck, have a son and a daughter and live on a farm near Hampton, MN.

Bill Gnatzig

Bill's career with National Hog Farmer began as a columnist, writing the popular “Diary of a Pork Producer” while farming full-time. He joined the editorial ranks as associate editor in 1979, “recognizing that writing was more lucrative than $30 hogs.”

Later, he joined the editorial staffs of BEEF and Dairy magazines, both sister publications to National Hog Farmer. He spent over a decade working in public relations and advertising, focusing on animal health. “More recently, and never having outgrown the urge to play in the dirt, I've given up travel to run a small excavation and construction business in western Wisconsin,” he says.

He recently joined a friend in purchasing a 500-sow unit in western Wisconsin.

“The years as a columnist and associate editor with National Hog Farmer were some of the most enjoyable of my life,” says Bill. “I had the opportunity to meet, write about and work with some wonderful people — all committed to improving the pork industry. I consider it an honor to have been part of the first 50 years.”

Karen McMahon

Karen wrote about the pork industry for two decades, ending with a five-year stint as managing editor of National Hog Farmer. She is currently editor of Farm Industry News, a sister publication.

Karen was raised on a diversified farm that included hogs in northwest Iowa. She received her journalism degree from South Dakota State University, then started writing about agriculture.

Karen and her husband, Randy, live in Lakeville, MN, with a daughter and a son.

Lora Duxbury Berg

Lora was a member of the National Hog Farmer staff from 1993 to 1999, joining the staff as associate editor, then promoted to managing editor. “My parents met in the open class swine barn at the South Dakota State Fair, so being on the National Hog Farmer staff was probably part of my destiny,” she says.

Lora was raised on a purebred livestock and grain farm and grew up showing Berkshire hogs. She represented her home state as the 1986 South Dakota Pork Industry Queen before serving as the South Dakota Pork Producers Council's first communications director intern and working for the National Live Stock and Meat Board.

Lora now operates a freelance agricultural communications business and continues to write for National Hog Farmer.

“I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to be a member of the National Hog Farmer family,” she relates. “I consider myself very lucky to have been able to meet so many wonderful pork industry people while traveling the country covering stories on behalf of our pork producer readers.”

She and her husband, Dan, and sons Ethan and Evan live in Lakeville, MN.

C.R. Mitchell (first editor, deceased)

C.R. Mitchell, or as most people called him, “Mitch,” National Hog Farmer's first editor, served for 17 years, created a series of articles in the mid-'60s entitled “Blueprint for Decision,” which led to formation of a national pork industry organization and the start of the checkoff program, known as “nickels for profit.” Mitch was a strong advocate of developing the modern, meat-type hog, creating a product more acceptable to consumers and worth promoting.

He was honored, posthumously, with the National Pork Producers Council Distinguished Service award for excellence and dedication to the pork industry in 1985.

Pork Industry Organizations

These six men led the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) as executive vice president and/or chief operating officer from its formative years through the USDA-mandated separation of NPPC and National Pork Board activities.

Rolland “Pig” Paul, Mesa, Ariz.

Rolland “Pig” Paul's career in the pork industry has run the gamut.

The Iowa native and graduate of Iowa State University served as field secretary for the Iowa Pork Producers Association during the late '50s and '60s. In that position, he helped lay the foundation for the pork checkoff program, twice failing at attempts to impose a mandatory program before legislation passed in 1963 made possible the “implied consent” concept and the voluntary nickel-a-head checkoff program.

Within two years, 28% of pork production was being checked off to raise funds for pork promotion and research. Paul helped organize 24 state pork producer organizations.

In 1966, Paul became the first executive secretary of the National Pork Producers Council and helped open the first headquarters in Des Moines, IA.

Since the late '60s, Paul and his family ran Pork Plantation near Willow Springs, MO. He served as a board member of the Duroc and Yorkshire breed associations.

In 1994, he sold the hogs and became a county commissioner in Howell County, MO.

For the last several years, Paul and his wife, Donna, have lived in Mesa, AZ.

J. Marvin Garner, Hiawatha, Iowa

J. Marvin Garner was a third-generation seedstock producer from Mendon, MO.

After graduating with an animal science degree from the University of Missouri, he worked as a hog buyer for Wilson Packing Company in Chicago.

In 1951, Garner became director of the newly formed St. Joseph Market Foundation on the St. Joseph Livestock Market.

In 1958, he became the executive secretary of the Chester White Swine Record Association in Rochester, IN. He served as president of the National Association of Swine Records and was one of the founders of the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

Garner became executive vice president of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) in 1969. During his 10 years of service, he supervised NPPC's first consumer advertising study, organized and managed the first nine American Pork Congress events, kicked off October Pork Month observances, and played a central role in financing and building NPPC's Des Moines headquarters.

Garner received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Pork Producers Council in 1989.

Orville K. Sweet, Kimberling City, Mo.

Orville Sweet served as the third CEO of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), following a stint as the CEO of the American Polled Hereford Association.

Earlier in his varied career, Sweet was an FFA teacher at Snyder, OK, manager of Windsweep Farms of Georgia and an extension specialist in Georgia.

In Sweet's 10-year tenure at NPPC, 1979-1989, he achieved the following:

  • Led the building of a new NPPC headquarters facility in West Des Moines, IA;

  • Spearheaded the creation of the hugely successful “Pork. The Other White Meat” campaign;

  • Worked on passage of the Pork Checkoff referendum in 1988; and

  • Opened an NPPC office in Washington, DC, to streamline lobbying efforts.

During Sweet's term, revenues for promotional efforts increased from $5 million to $20 million, the pork checkoff referendum passed with 70% voting in favor and World Pork Expo was launched.

Sweet was a visiting industry professor at Iowa State University in 1989-90. During the 1990s, he served as president of Sweet and Associates, a consulting firm providing strategic planning for groups. He received the NPPC's Distinguished Service Award in 1991.

Russ Sanders, Johnston, Iowa

Russ Sanders, a graduate of Iowa State University, embarked on his professional career as executive director of the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

At the Iowa Development Commission, he introduced the Iowa Chop Marketing Program.

Sanders came to the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) as vice president of marketing in 1980, where he coordinated the development of the “Pork. The Other White Meat” campaign and guided it through the first critical years. He succeeded Orville Sweet as CEO of NPPC, and served in that position from 1989 to 1995.

Under Sanders' leadership, pork became a net exporter for the first time and started a streak of 13 consecutive years of record exports.

The Pork Quality Assurance Program was introduced during his tenure, and he developed producer support for the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Sanders left NPPC to become vice president of marketing at Premium Standard Farms, Princeton, MO.

He currently is director of End-Use Account Management at Pioneer in Johnston, IA.

Larry Graham, Clive, Iowa

Larry Graham is a native of Albion, IL. Early in his career, he was Illinois editor of Prairie Farmer magazine for four years ending in 1972. Then he worked for three years as executive vice president of the Illinois Pork Producers Association.

From 1975 to 1985, Graham was vice president of Oster Communications, Inc., of Cedar Falls, IA, where he started the Professional Farmers Institute, a continuing education program for farmers.

Graham was responsible for the creation of Pork Profit Edge, a successful weekly newsletter, in 1991.

He also served as executive vice president of Brock Associates, a Milwaukee, WI, agricultural consulting firm.

In 1995, Graham became executive vice president/CEO for the National Pork Producers Council.

He currently operates his own independent swine consulting firm, Graham & Associates, based in Clive, IA.

Al Tank, Washington, D.C.

Al Tank became vice president/CEO of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) during a period of change and challenge in the pork industry. He was selected in 1998 and served in that position for about five years.

Tank had served as NPPC vice president of Public Policy and Foreign Trade in their Washington, DC, office.

Prior to joining NPPC in 1991, Tank worked as a partner/broker for a commercial hedging and trading firm.

He also worked as a lobbyist in Washington, DC, for the National Corn Growers Association and on the staff of Congressman Jim Leach (D-IA).

Tank was the field director for the Iowa Pork Producers Association in the early 1980s.

During his tenure at NPPC, he exhibited leadership as the industry consolidated into larger production systems and became more technologically advanced.

He helped broker a settlement agreement with USDA that ensured the continuation of the mandatory pork checkoff program and called for a decisive separation of the NPPC and National Pork Board.

Circa 2015-2025 Visions of the Pork Industry

A select group of “visionaries” were asked to share their thoughts about the major challenges and opportunities the U.S. pork industry will face in the next 10-20 years.

These industry leaders were asked to focus on their area of expertise (i.e. swine health, genetics, meat quality, etc.), and also to offer their “big picture” view of the pork industry in 2015-25.

Over 50 individuals shared their insight and foresight. After reading their thoughtful comments, we think you'll agree that the future of the pork industry is bright, and as always, very challenging.

Commercial production

Ken Maschhoff, The Maschhoffs Inc., Carlyle, Ill.

“Envisioning the science of commercial pork production in the next 10-15 years, I feel there will be dramatic changes, driven by technology.

“Early adaptors will enjoy success, but not to the degree of the creators and drivers of those technologies. A few mid-adapters will survive, but technology will not wait for latecomers.

“Production units will be extremely environmentally friendly. There will be limited or no odor issues. ‘Quality-of-life’ laws will force science to develop designs and methods that deal with these concerns.

“Facilities will be customized to address the welfare of animals, because:

  • The public will demand it; and

  • We will possess a better understanding of how the environment and animals interact. In an attempt to optimize this, science will help us create the most efficient facilities and technologies.

“In 2020, the most sought-after college graduates will be those with engineering or creative design degrees.

“On the biology side, one big change will be feed conversions of under 2:1 at 300-lb. finished weights, with conversions of 1.5:1 in some cases, due to a combination of genetic and nutritional breakthroughs.

“Feedstuffs will be derived from plant varieties and inputs specifically engineered for an exact animal genotype. Constant DNA typing and mapping will be needed along with crop monitoring (feedstuffs) in order to facilitate the most precise nutritional programs.

“All feed inputs will be contracted with every acre involved in a multi-year nutritional management plan that will dovetail with the CNMP (Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan) for the same acres. All ingredient supplies will be paid on exact nutrient specifications delivered, vs. today's price per bushel or per ton.

“On the meat quality side, animals will be harvested on-site or on-farm. Mobile CO2 chambers, rendering trucks and refrigerated transport will reduce or eliminate animal welfare and meat quality issues associated with current live animal transport.

“New requirements for animal identification and animal welfare auditing will be simplified by an on-site harvest system. Whole carcasses will be transported in specially equipped trucks to designated, value-added processing plants. These will be the top 80% of today's most efficient plants. These companies can expand their processing areas, as their kill sections will be effectively outsourced.

“The added expense of transporting chilled carcasses will be offset because only 75% of the actual freight will exist. Waste or other by-products may need to be transported directly for rendering.”

Robert Baarsch, LeRoy, Minn.

“All predictions about the future must be framed with underlying assumptions.

“Consolidation, triggered and shaped by technology adoption, will continue as rapidly, or more rapidly, into the next 10 years.

“Pork production companies will grow primarily by acquisition. This growth will trigger difficult challenges in assimilating production systems such as barn and ventilation design, as well as employee culture. Variation will continue to drive these growing companies crazy.

“Process control will centralize and be staffed with the most intelligent and experienced stockmen available. These offices will house the technological equivalent of a cockpit in a modern fighter jet, monitoring all the critical factors affecting hog growth.

“The data will be consolidated and filtered using software beyond what we now know as statistical process control (SPC). It will be more similar to artificial intelligence, able to predict disease outbreaks or detect ventilation problems instantly.

“All feed tanks will be equipped with scales, and the pigs' growth and feed efficiency will be monitored constantly by weight-predicting equipment.

“The system will determine the optimal temperature for the type of pig, health status and building design. It will also optimize temperature and nutrition-based energy costs and make cost-based decisions between heating the building or feeding more energy to the pigs.

“Our number one challenge will be satisfying consumers who will continue to be more sophisticated in their concern for how we raise our animals, treat our employees and take care of the environment.

“Fewer of our prospective employees will have agriculture backgrounds and education. We will need rigorous training programs that include basics that we take for granted today.

“These well-trained employees, coupled with our electronically connected stockmen, will be a very effective team. Our e-stockmen will have remote video surveillance, which will allow disabled employees to make significant contributions. Ultimately, the animals will be better served because they will have several sets of eyes and ears overseeing their care.”

Scott Burroughs, Nebraska Pork Partners, Columbus, Neb.

“To project where U.S. commercial pork production will be 20 years from now, let's look back at the last two decades.

“The U.S. pork industry has transitioned from a ‘way of life’ to a ‘business’. Thinner profit margins and higher capital requirements have put an emphasis on economies of scale. Farms have been built or acquired by business entities, while single-farm owner/operators have moved into contract relations or exited pork production.

“The next 20 years will see further changes and refinements, but the end result will still be 105-110 million pigs marketed per year. Environmental restrictions, animal welfare legislation and global pork production will hold a lid on the U.S. industry.

“For those who can adapt to the changing environment and drive efficiencies to the bottom line, returns will be very good.

“Business and manufacturing practices have been infused into the U.S. pork industry. Although a business mentality and many manufacturing methods have been beneficial, pork production is not a manufacturing process — it's a biological one!

“Two key areas of focus for the next 20 years are pig production and business model/company culture.

“Let's tackle pig production first.

“Raising pigs for food began over 9,000 years ago and the biological fundamentals have not dramatically changed. Environmentally controlled conditions, artificial insemination, nutrition and genetic selection have all advanced. But, the basics have not changed. They must be done seven days a week, all year long, year in year out. There is no black box for production of pigs.

“Now, let's look at the business model/company culture issues.

“Incorporating a business approach into the U.S. pork industry has had a positive influence and added a much-needed dimension for long-term competitiveness. However, success in the next 20 years will not come from a manufacturing or technology business model, but rather a ‘biological business model.’ Very few of today's top 50 production entities have adopted this model.

“Let's examine the three models and why virtually all entities will need to adopt the biological business model.

  • “The ‘manufacturing business model’ strives for low variation and high output in a least-cost environment. Yes, these traits are vital to the biological model, but one key difference exists — a switch turns it on and off. When employees go home, the process stops. When output needs to be increased, more shifts are added or the process is sped up.

  • “The ‘technology business model’ develops the latest technology, then mass-produces it. Leadership in a technology business is in tune with day-to-day processes and has a strong vision for the future. This model incorporates everything from the manufacturing model, including the on/off switch.

  • “The ‘biological business model’ incorporates both manufacturing and technology attributes, while acknowledging that our industry is driven by a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, 365-days-a-year process. Pig production is the overriding focus.

“In a biological model, everyone at the farm and in the boardroom must be equally connected, striving for the same goals with equal intensity, every day. Communication, discipline, interaction and empowerment must be more than buzzwords. Very few entities have successfully implemented this model.

“How does integration fit into this model?

“Integration is a real component of the U.S. pork industry, and it covers many sins from the production side. The ‘integrated model’ is much better than either the manufacturing or technology model. However, it will not compete solely with the biological model.

“The ultimate success story will come from an ‘integrated biological model,’ which will likely be accomplished in the next two decades.

“Non-integrated entities adopting the biological model will be successful for the next 20 years, but the integrated biological model will be at the top. The board and senior management team that can accomplish this ultimate model will be something to mimic.

“There is a bright future for those who are focused on producing pigs in an environmentally sound, welfare-conscious and people-oriented business. Contract production will continue for growers who adapt their focus to producing pigs.

“The days of raising pigs to sell buildings, add value to a veterinary service, sell more tons of feed or sell management services are numbered.”

Bob Brauer, Oakford, Ill.

“For the first time in 29 years, Oasis Hog Farms does not own pigs. We made the decision to get out of the business in December 2003. Many in our community were surprised and asked why.

“Our short answer is, we doubled the size of our operation the year prices dropped 80%. Good timing, huh? Our projections showed that we could survive the lowest hog prices we had seen in the last two decades ($28). The projections did not show the effect of $8 hogs or chronic PRRS! We just never recovered.

“The good news is that our timing to liquidate could not have been better. We sold the last pigs at the home place in December 2004, and we have contracts to sell it and the three farms we built in 1998.

“It has been a very difficult period, but there is life after pig farming. Rich (Brauer) is now an Illinois House Representative; our sister, Jane Feagans, is a seed company office manager. I am an investment representative for Edward Jones.

“I loved the work and I loved the people. I will miss both.

“There are still pigs to raise, and it seems to me there will be three segments of the industry:

  • “The contractor who owns the pigs, takes the risks, provides the technology and services to the growers;

  • “The growers who provide capital and labor in return for less risk and a better night's sleep; and

  • “The traditional, independent producers who will have to form alliances to keep their costs low and attempt to extract a reasonable price out of the market.

“Our business with my brother and sister was great for 22 years. The problem is, we were in it for 29 years.

“We were very lucky because our 401(k) at the farm did provide some off-farm investments. As my finance professor says, ‘If you are going to put all of your eggs in one basket, watch that basket very carefully.’”

Linden Olson, Worthington, Minn.

“One of the major challenges facing the global pork industry will revolve around the increasing globalization of world economies, including food production and processing.

“Multi-national food companies will look closer at where the lowest-cost raw product that meets their standards can be procured and processed, whether that product is 100 or 10,000 miles away.

“This will allow market segmentation to provide pork to consumers who demand, and will pay for, pork and pork products that are produced and certified under their requirements, which will include environmental standards, production practices, food safety, health and nutrition ideals and social concerns.

“For the U.S. pork industry, one major challenge will be transitioning from being the lowest-cost pork producer to something yet to be determined. The opportunity will be to transition to a goal that captures what the global consumer will be demanding.

“This will require producers and processors to first agree, then work together to put the new goal into practice. The integrated processors will have an advantage in moving quickly in a new direction.

“A second challenge will be working in the legislative arena to ensure that laws, rules and regulations are enacted to give the pork industry a fair chance to compete in the global marketplace without emotionally charged, special interest restrictions.”

Bill Prestage, Prestage Farms Inc., Clinton, N.C.

“As I try to view the next 10 to 20 years for our pork industry, I see many current trends continuing.

“I think there will be even greater emphasis by packers and consumers on meat quality, safety and consistency. This means we will have to produce hogs with the sizes and carcass traits that packers demand.

“We will have to be more efficient. Consumers should not have to pay for our inefficiencies and, in the long term, they will not.

“Within the live production segment of our industry, we will continue to see some mergers and acquisitions. There will be more acquisitions of live production assets by packers. However, I also believe there will always be a place for producers of any size, if they have a competitive cost structure.”

Jim Ledger, Washington, Iowa

“In the next 10 to 20 years, I envision uniformity (of pork products) will be achieved through cloning and gene altering.

“A new approach to disease management will be achieved through genetics. The livestock industry needs to use a different method of gene altering than the crop industry. We must convince consumers that altering genes is more conducive to food safety than using chemicals and drugs to control diseases and pests.

“There could be four categories of commercial producers in the future — ultra-large, large, medium and small. I will focus my thoughts on the medium and small producers and their survival against tough competition.

“The following points may not have a lot of impact on an individual basis, but combined into total practice, you will be a survivor:

  • Establish good relations with your banker and veterinarian. They will require you to keep good financial and health records.

  • Seek advice from someone who has been successful in business.

  • Use a genetic package that produces good numbers and a product that is in demand, domestically and globally.

  • Strive for efficiency, no matter how small. A small amount of wasted time or material doesn't seem like much, but over a year or a business lifetime, it could be the price of owning your own business.

  • Get as much information as possible on innovations. Adopt new concepts only if they have promise to improve your bottom line.

  • Good, caring production practices are still the key to producing a nutritious protein source.

  • Work to assure consumers that you are providing a wholesome, safe product.

  • Relax. Don't get so involved in business that you forget to enjoy your family, relatives and friends.

The Keppy Family, Davenport, Iowa

Three generations of the Keppys offered their thoughts about the future of the pork industry.

Patriarch Roy Keppy: “Myrtle and I were fortunate to have farmed when we did. I was able to raise good crossbred pigs because of great purebred breeders. Together, we made great progress in producing consumer-acceptable, lean pork.

“I am concerned that the industry has gone too far on the lean concept. I'm very aware of the eating quality problems that should not be happening. The aging population is part of the fastest-growing consumer group. Tender, flavorful pork is very important to them. Someone needs to step to the plate to solve eating-quality problems before we lose market share.”

Next generation, Glen Keppy, son of Roy and Myrtle: “The organizations that helped provide an opportunity for profit — and even the right to farm — have been changing since the start of modern pork production in 1950 until today.

“The industry will change, so the needs of an organization will change also. Producers of all kinds need to provide the leadership to keep the pork industry in front of the issues and proactive as we face detractors and global competition. Don't take things for granted.”

Third Generation Chad Keppy, son of Glen and Carol Keppy: “We, the producers, need to adopt and embrace change to keep pork a competitive protein source. For producers in a situation similar to mine, I believe one way to accomplish this is to utilize niche markets. It is a smaller, more specialized market trying to give consumers exactly what they want. We will continue to work together to produce pigs in the U.S. and add value to the pork we produce.”


Maynard Hogberg, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

“Environmental impact of swine operations will continue to be a major issue in the next 10-20 years.

“Problems that need to be addressed are:

  • Excessive and obnoxious odors;

  • Nutrient leakage from storage systems;

  • Gas emissions, especially ammonia and hydrogen sulfide; and

  • Reduction or elimination of pathogens.

“These problems became issues through the gradual shift to larger production systems and as society became more environmentally sensitive. As operations grew in size, environmental concerns increased exponentially as the technology to deal with them did not keep pace. This has led to the call for, and implementation of, regulations as a means to correct the problem.

“To reduce odor and nutrients in manure, nutritional programs will more precisely meet the nutrient needs of pigs at different stages of growth.

“Nutrients excreted by the pig will be captured and preserved for use in land application or other uses as we shift our emphasis from treating manure as a waste to recognizing it as a resource. Rising commercial fertilizer prices, along with regulations that limit emissions of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, will drive this trend.

“Lagoons, which typically lose approximately 75% of the nitrogen to volatilization, will be closed unless covered. Some systems will evolve from liquid to dry, such as composting. Dry systems will significantly reduce odors and pathogens, increase flexibility of alternate uses, and make it easier and more economical to transport longer distances.

“New businesses will emerge to take the manure from farms and serve as plant nutrient brokers, adding value to the product. Larger units will find ways to process manure into alternative, value-added products.

“As energy prices increase, it will become more feasible to convert swine manure into bio-diesel or alternative energy sources. Significant technology changes will reduce environmental impacts on air and water and find new uses for swine manure. Future systems will not use lagoons or under-floor storage tanks, as emphasis is placed on minimizing gas emissions inside and outside the buildings.

“The cost of operating an environmentally sound swine system will escalate as new technologies are developed. If done properly, the products from manure may be a larger profit center for swine operations than the pigs themselves.”

Leonard Bull, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C.

“The way the swine industry deals with the issues of residuals (waste and other) from concentrated animal feeding operations will determine the industry's future.

“Regulatory pressures will continue to increase on a global basis, along with increased expectations for clean water and air.

“While many of the allegations against the swine industry are unfounded, especially in the last half decade, the perceptions are well-entrenched in the regulatory mindset. There will continue to be a ‘not in my backyard’ attitude in developed countries against CAFOs of all kinds, swine systems in particular.

“Technology development for mediation of the environmental issues will continue, and systems that achieve desired results will emerge carrying realistic price tags.

“Until recently, biological treatment of animal waste has received inadequate attention because of abdication of the primary responsibility by the biological science side of the research industry. That will change, bringing significant advances at realistic costs.

“At the same time, value-added by-products and co-products and processes will be developed to enable the industry to deal with problems of translocation of residual nutrients from distant sites of feed production to sites of animal production.

“The issues that will remain for each country or area will be the balance between the economic value of the swine industry and willingness to provide whatever subsidies are needed to retain that share of the economy.”

Al Sutton, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.

“Sustainable, profitable and efficient pork production in concert with good environmental stewardship will be required throughout the world. Advances in scientific information and development of technologies, equipment and management practices will be needed in the following areas:

  • Precision application of manure on cropland;

  • The ability to accurately and rapidly measure manure nutrient contents on-farm and make rate adjustments during applications;

  • Economical treatment and resource recovery systems producing value-added products and the option to discharge treated effluent;

  • Elimination of pathogens, and reducing or altering gas emissions and odors from pork production facilities, manure storage and land application practices;

  • Discovery of safe feed additives that provide increased utilization of nutrients, provide health protection and control the microflora in animals;

  • Biotechnical and scientific breakthroughs to produce precision feeds for specific animals, and production purposes to enhance nutrient utilization;

  • Discovery and manipulation of microorganisms and their ecology in the animal, and through the manure management system and soils, to minimize environmental impacts and benefit pork production.”


Ron Thibault, Osborne Industries Inc., Osborne, Kan.

“Perhaps no part of the pork industry has changed more in the past 50 years than equipment and systems engineering, which in recent years, have become greatly standardized across the U.S. industry, largely owing to their practical success.

“As production systems have become larger, size of operations, internal process development and the need for standardization have enabled many producers to view their equipment and engineering suppliers in a new way. This will become the norm in the next 10 to 20 years.

“Product development, field-testing and customization to match unique production requirements will also become the norm. Unique concepts or commodity designs will be replaced by capabilities and services.

“Equipment and engineering suppliers will serve as consultants to the producer, who will provide the product requirement specifications and the testing venue for jointly developed solutions. Such consultative relationships include significant, continuous collaboration within a confidential environment.

“This is a great departure from competitive product and service development using consumer marketing methods. This future does not remove competition, but it does leverage the strength and capabilities of both customer and supplier in a more efficient and productive way.

“In 2013, gestation crates will no longer be permitted in the European Union. This fact is creating a momentum for basic changes in the way animals are managed, which must be met if the U.S. is to remain in the world meat market.

“‘Business as usual’ will not work. The customer of the future will have no sympathy for the realities of pork production, but will be driven by popular public perceptions, which will be marshaled against the North American producer as surely as they were against smaller and perhaps less vulnerable producers in the European Union.

“The other side of this problem is an important opportunity to use information technology as part of large-group management to set new standards for care and well-being of animals, and for the quality and safety of pork. By adopting such methods, the North American model for pork production is in a unique position to out-perform any other producer in the world in both quality and cost of production, converting inevitable changes in production methods into an unbeatable competitive advantage.”

Jerome Mack, Swine Robotics, Inc., Leola, S.D.

“The U.S. pork industry will become much more labor efficient and productive in the next 10-20 years. Our industry is still incredibly labor intensive, but automation and new tools will become more prominent.

“I believe the biggest challenge will be to find highly qualified people to do the high level of work that the industry demands. Success in that area will overcome all other obstacles.”

Financial management

John Lawrence, Iowa State University, Ames, IA

“Economics is the bottom line by which all other ‘categories’ in the pork industry will be measured.

“The industry has made significant improvements in production efficiencies and cost reductions in the last 20 years. Cost reductions are the nature of the business, and I'm sure they will continue, however, they will not be made at all costs, so to speak.

“Rather, they will focus on the low-cost methods to produce a higher-quality product in an environmentally superior manner. The expectations on the product and producers will continue to increase, and only a portion of these higher outcomes will be rewarded in the marketplace. The rest will be paid for by producer innovation and efficiency gains.

“On the revenue side, there will be a continued trend toward branded products and organized supply chains. Retailers and consumers will come to expect predictable products and identify them by brand rather than by cut or store name. Brands will differentiate themselves further on price, but only a portion of the difference will be due to meat quality.

“Consumers will pay differences for seasoning, packaging, advertising and image. Pork may simply be the carrier of the eating experience. Producers will benefit from the improved demand for pork and by producing pork with traits that provide a better carrier.

“The export market will continue to grow, as will competition for those markets.

“Competition from Canada will continue and will grow from Brazil. Canada is emphasizing exports of meat over live animals after they saw the vulnerability of a border closing based on the bovine spongiform encephalopathy experience. Brazil has the resource base to produce pork efficiently and is working through their foot-and-mouth disease restrictions. Once they have animal identification fully implemented, they will become a more reliable supplier to the world market.

“European pork markets may well open as environmental pressures build in the leading pork production countries.

“China's pork market will also grow — in Taiwan and the mainland — as their economy grows faster than their feedgrain and pork production capabilities.

“Opportunities for growth and profitability in pork production will be tied largely to demand for pork. While the demand shift of 2004 was unusual, in that production and prices both increased, it did show us what happens when demand is strong.

“As new efficiency-improving technologies are adopted, demand will have to continue to grow if there is to be a profitable future.

“Challenges (to the pork industry) include increasing demand for corn for energy manufacturing. It is great for corn growers, but there are plans to use over half of the current Iowa corn crop for ethanol production.”

Glenn Grimes, University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo.

“The growth in the amount of pork produced per animal in the U.S. breeding herd in the last 50 years is almost unbelievable — up 241% from 1955 to 2004, which is an average growth of 4.82% annually.

“About 3% of the recent 4% growth has been the increased productivity of the U.S. herd, with the other 1% from increased imports of live hogs from Canada.

“Productivity growth is needed to stay competitive with other pork-producing countries. However, 3% productivity growth is nearly double the long-term average demand growth in the U.S. Productivity growth of 3%, demand growth of 1.5%, and a sow herd that is hard to downsize because of the ownership structure, will likely keep profits low, based on historical levels.

“In 1954, there were 2,365,708 hog farms in the U.S. On Dec. 1, 2004, this number was down to 64,420. Hog farms have declined an average of 6% annually for the past five years.

“The structure of the U.S. hog industry is expected to continue to concentrate in the next decade. In 2005, 22 firms accounted for over 40% of the pork produced. There are economies of scale in pork production, so this concentration will probably continue for the next 10-20 years. Twenty to 25 firms will account for approximately 75-80% of production by 2025.

“About one-fourth of the hog industry is now vertically integrated, and growth in this type of ownership is likely to continue. To compete, individual producers will probably need to network to gain economies of scale.

“In 1999, about 36% of U.S. hogs were sold on the negotiated or spot market. In January 2005, this number was less than 11%. There has been nearly a 12% decline in spot market sales, on average, for the last six years.

“Finding a base price to use for developing marketing contracts will become a problem in the next few years. Currently, the small amount of pork sold on the negotiated or spot market is a very thin basis for contracts. Meat prices were the basis for about 11% of the formula marketing contracts for hogs or pork in 2003. Mandatory reporting of meat prices would probably be the best solution for identifying a base price.

“The odds are probably quite high that the industry will either adopt mandatory meat price reporting or new legislation will require a certain percentage of hogs, probably around 25%, to be priced through the spot or negotiated market. Mandatory reporting of meat prices would probably be the best alternative for most of the industry, especially the small producers.

“We see growth worldwide for the pork industry. In the past five years, the increase in world pork production has been about 1.5% annually, and world trade in pork has, on average, increased over 5% annually.

“Increased world trade will provide U.S. pork with some export opportunities, but there will be challenges. Canada and Brazil are now positioned to give the U.S. the most competition.

“Along with this world competition will be environmental, animal welfare and other issues that will complicate pork producers' lives. The industry needs to keep a strong organization to address these issues and influence policy decisions and regulations, as well as keep pork competitive for the center of the American consumer's plate.”

Mark Greenwood, AgStar, Mankato, Minn.

“I believe the swine industry in the U.S. will continue to consolidate. Today, producers with more than 5,000 sows raise 53% of all hogs. Over the next 10-20 years, that number will be closer to 80%.

“The packing industry will consolidate as well. Three or four packers will control 80% or more of the industry.

“The trend toward vertical integration will continue. Today, 25% of the industry is integrated. That number will double, at least, over the next few years.

“Small producers who remain will have opportunities to fill niche markets (such as antibiotic-free, organic, etc.), because large producers will not want to fill those needs.

“Pork is the meat of choice in the world. The world population will grow by almost two billion over the next 20 years, so the potential for the U.S. pork industry to fill that market is great.

“I believe we can grow our exports to 15% of the products we produce. However, if we export more than 15%, we may become very vulnerable if something happens or some trade policy adversely affects our ability to sell our products.

“Our biggest challenge is to keep our pork products safe. A disease outbreak, such as foot-and-mouth disease, would bring our industry to its knees. We need to develop systems that keep our products the safest in the world.

“Animal identification and traceability are ‘givens’ in the future.

“The pork industry needs to raise the bar in animal welfare and environmental areas. Everyone must adhere to sound, practical science in both areas.

“I think the future of the pork industry is very bright. I believe we all need to work together to help feed the world and keep pork the number one protein choice among consumers.”


Max F. Rothschild, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

“A great deal has happened in genetics to alter the pig industry in the past 50 years. The next 10 or 20 years hold much promise for change as well. For example:

  • “Selection of superior animals using estimated breeding values will accelerate, particularly for individual gene effects.

  • “Gene mapping and gene identification will continue at a very rapid pace. This will lead to identifying many individual gene effects and accelerate sequencing of the genome.

  • “The complete genome sequence (all known genes) of the pig will likely be obtained in the next three years. This will allow breeders to select for reproduction, growth, feed efficiency, disease resistance and meat quality, possibly disposition and behavior, and even reduction of waste output. And, it will allow breeders to create niche products with enormous value.

  • “Cloning will become easier, producing copies of outstanding animals used to produce more uniform pigs for certain production settings.

  • “The production of transgenic pigs (adding genes from other species) for biomedical uses. A large part of the swine industry will be devoted to producing pigs for the human health industry. With certain human genes expressed, these ‘biomedical pigs’ can be grown to help produce organs for human transplantation.

“A number of challenges face the field of pig genetics, most importantly sufficient funding for discovery research and (gene) sequencing. This could be a disadvantage for pork compared to other meat sources, especially chicken, where the sequence is already known.

“A second challenge is the need to quickly reduce antibiotics in pig production. To do so, geneticists will need to identify pigs that are genetically less susceptible to disease.

“Environmentalists present another challenge. Strict regulations can hamper genetic improvement. With improved genetic knowledge, breeders will be able to produce pigs that produce less manure, a long-term, positive effect.

“Finally, we will be challenged to contend with welfare and animal rights issues, which hamper large-scale production. Geneticists with adequate funding will be able to select pigs more likely to resist stress.”

Steve Moeller, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

“Genetic improvement over the last 50 years has clearly been driven by advances in technology and the ‘art’ of mating. It appears the speed of technological change has not reached a plateau.

“History and our understanding of the two most important principles of making genetic change — selection and mating systems — tell us that change in traits of economic importance will remain relatively slow.

“The influence of artificial insemination on selection intensity is the key genetic benefit for the swine industry. More importantly, future genetic opportunity with AI will be observed when semen sexing becomes economically feasible.

“Sexed semen offers the opportunity for increased selection intensity of replacement females — an area where the industry currently has little opportunity due to poor sow longevity and high cull/death rates in commercial herds.

“Market differentiation will also drive genetic decisions. High-end restaurant and consumer markets will demand quality attributes that will be dictated, to a large extent, by the genetic supply that is capable of meeting those needs. Processed verified pork products, driven by genetic inputs, will become more prominent and drive selection objectives toward new traits.

“I see selection for disease resistance, using both quantitative and molecular approaches increasing in antibiotic-free and ‘natural’ production markets, plus a continued resurgence in the breeds that inherently possess attributes influencing pork palatability.

“Entrepreneurship, along with a good understanding of selection and mating, will drive breeders and their commercial customers to focus outside the proverbial ‘box’ to remain competitive with commodity pork production.

“Advances in molecular genetics will continue to provide a fundamental understanding of the underlying genes, genetic mechanisms, gene action, gene expression, and regulatory pathways that influence observed phenotype.

“While I feel many more genes will be identified, in the absence of some major mutation, I don't expect to find new genes with the magnitude of effect that the mutant Porcine Stress Syndrome (PSS) gene and the Napole genes have had on phenotypic expression.

“Large corporate breeding companies may have an advantage over smaller breeders due to cost. Privatization and accessibility of discoveries will clearly be in the forefront of future use and application of molecular data and databases.

“I go back to a question frequently posed by Dr. Lauren Christian, my mentor and major professor at Iowa State. When confronted with a new technology, application of a procedure or discovery, he would ask: ‘But, are the hogs any better?’

“As we look 20 years down the road, we can surely say, the hogs will be better if the right people are involved and they have utilized not only the tools but their intrinsic knowledge of pigs, along with selection and mating, to make them better.”

Tom Baas, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

“The majority of genetic progress made in the swine industry over the past 50 years resulted from individual breeders and breeding companies applying genetics principles.

“The goal has been to exploit genetic variability to identify the best animals within and between breeds and lines to produce pigs that are the most economical to raise. Most of the genetic progress in traditional quantitative traits (growth, carcass, sow productivity) has been made by selecting on performance records and an estimate of breeding value, without knowledge of the specific number of genes that affect the trait or the effect of each gene.

“As we move into the next 50 years, the genetic principles of selection will remain applicable, but will have molecular tools, such as gene markers and quantitative trait loci, available. As swine genome information is expanded, the potential use of these tools will increase.

“The likelihood of success weighed against the value that can be generated by improving a specific trait must be evaluated when emphasis on any trait is considered. Molecular methods offer great potential, but they will not replace quantitative methods. Their best use will be in conjunction with, and as a supplement to, traditional selection programs.

“Genes and markers can be found, but the key is to find those with measurable effects and economic value. There's a tendency to think we will find a ‘silver bullet’ to solve many of the industry's problems. But, there's also a danger in waiting for new technologies to improve our industry in lieu of continuing to utilize proven quantitative methods.

“We face a major challenge to reduce the economic impact of various swine diseases, specifically porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome. Molecular methods offer great potential here. The concept of selection for disease resistance is not new and probably offers geneticists the greatest opportunity for improvement in the swine health area.

“Because resistance to most diseases is likely due to several genes, we must identify all genes involved and learn how they affect disease resistance before effective selection can take place. As with most advancements, it will take the efforts of both quantitative and molecular geneticists, along with veterinary experts, to accomplish this task.”

Global markets

Steve Murphy, National Pork Board, Des Moines, Iowa

“Global competition, customer satisfaction and key relationship-building between complementary segments of U.S. agriculture will be the key drivers for success of the U.S. pork industry during the next two decades.

“Without critical attention to details, such as food safety/security, pork quality and animal welfare, the industry could lose ground to global competitors who are willing to provide the final product desired by the marketplace.

“The U.S. pork industry has a bright future because the Pork Checkoff has laid the groundwork through research, education and promotion to continue to be the best overall supplier of pork in the world; 96% of the world's pork consumption occurs outside of U.S. borders, and we must prepare to capture more of that market potential.

“As other countries continue to lower their cost of production, we will need to drive technologies to be competitive. Make no mistake, Brazil will change the global marketplace in the next five years.

“Over the last 25 years, we have changed our product dramatically to meet consumer demands. Pork demand rose by 2.8% in 2004 alone. Now, it is time to listen to the global market, respond to its needs and reap the rewards.

“Issues such as food safety/security, pork quality and animal welfare will be driving factors in how U.S. pork is perceived worldwide. Pork producers must take control of the security of their product until it reaches the customer.

“Continuing to identify and incorporate desirable meat quality traits will also add value to U.S. pork. Quite clearly, one of the most critical actions will be assuring customers that U.S. pork is raised in a humane manner. It is highly likely that we will see a global version of the Swine Welfare Assurance Program.

“As U.S. pork competes in the world market, now and in 2025, we must remember that we are not just competing against other protein supplies, but against pork from many other countries.

“Finally, pork producers and all of agriculture must learn to work as a team to fend off advances from environmental and animal rights activists, the vegan community, and regulations that could drive livestock out of business, thus eliminating the largest market for U.S. grains.

“As we look to the future, it may be time to take a page from the past. In 1966, in Moline, IL, 90 pork producers banded together and changed the course of U.S. pork production forever. Understanding who will move our industry forward and who will attempt to halt its success is critical. The challenge we need to accept is to look outside the gates of agriculture and determine how we best move forward.”


Jerry H. Godwin, Murphy-Brown LLC, Warsaw, N.C.

“The world population is projected to reach roughly nine billion people by 2035. With that growth will come a demand for even more efficient and economical food production.

“Along with advancements in biotechnology, instant access to information via the Internet, better medicines and other scientific advancements, there will also be an increased demand for higher quality food — specifically meat as a protein source.

“There are few places left on earth with the natural resources and infrastructure necessary for large increases in acreages for agricultural production. It will be necessary to produce more from existing resources.

“Biotechnology offers enormous promise to help us protect the environment by reducing the destruction of forests and other resources.

“Breeding for genetic resistance offers great potential to protect crops from insect losses, thus minimizing the need for synthetic pesticides. Likewise, significant improvements in animal genetics will result in increased feed conversion efficiency, more disease-resistant animals and improved meat quality.

“And, a more informed consumer, one who insists on a safe, high-quality protein source, will also demand that food be produced in ways that protects the environment and ensures animal well-being.

“The future belongs to the efficient and the productive. Perhaps the most successful model for sustainability is the integrated business model, which controls all the raw material input and processes at each stage of production. This model also controls quality and takes advantage of economies of scale. Through these and other efficiencies, an integrated organization is able to produce a predictable throughput of high-quality product at the lowest cost.

“The organizations with the ability to manage and control the variables and expenses of producing a product have the best chances for sustainability. Agriculture in general, and pork production specifically, are not exceptions.”

Robert “Bo” Manly, Premium Standard Farms, Kansas City, Mo.

“Productivity of the U.S. pork industry is very low at an average of 16 pigs per sow per year. This splits the industry into efficient and inefficient segments that respond to economic and political signals differently.

“We will not achieve world-class competitiveness until we reach a more productive platform. We will react to market signals, politics and international competitiveness issues when we achieve an industry standard of 20 pigs/sow/year.”

Industry organizations

Dave Culbertson, Geneseo Pork Inc., Geneseo, Ill. (National Pork Board President)

“As our industry continues to consolidate and mature, I think we will see added incentive to have one industry organization, voluntarily funded. I can foresee a new organization that would assume most of the activities of the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council.

“With less revenue available, the new organization will need to be more streamlined and more focused on early issues identification and management.

“To offset revenue reduction, the new organization will need to cultivate innovative sources, such as partnerships and grants. As in the past, state and/or regional associations will be crucial partners in accomplishing all of the tasks that producers have come to expect.

“Several states will have their own voluntary checkoff, so arriving at one equitable split of duties and revenues with a national organization will be a challenge. This new organization needs to be as inclusive as possible and appeal to a large range of producers and production styles.

“We are a resilient, innovative, high-energy industry, one that has always handled challenges in a positive, proactive manner, arriving at solutions to serve and enhance the greater good.”

Craig Christensen, Ogden, Iowa (National Pork Board past president)

“Future industry organizations will be more proactive, fast-acting, specific and focused on limited priorities, with limited funding.

“There will be more collaboration between groups and other industry partners to tackle certain issues. This collaboration may have to be broad and diverse to attract enough resources and make the necessary impact.

“The pork industry has a great opportunity to move more product and increase our share of the consumption pie — if we stay in front, change, and lead in areas such as animal welfare, animal identification, antimicrobial usage and production trends that produce a better product and quality of environment.”

Craig Jarolimek, Elite Swine Inc., Forest River, N.D. (National Pork Producers Council Past President)

“The U.S. pork industry has undergone many challenges and changes in the last 50 years, but we cannot begin to imagine the changes we will face in the next 25 years.

“In the near future, leaders of the National Pork Producers Council and the National Pork Board need to come together and once again unite the industry under one governance and leadership. A solution to the checkoff challenges needs to be sought and one source of funding established.

“It was with great pride that former leaders took the bold step to establish the mandatory checkoff. They moved NPPC to a major leadership position in U.S. agriculture policy. That type of leadership is needed again to move to the next level of producer leadership.

“As communication and technology advances make our world smaller, the U.S. pork industry needs to look at its neighbors to the north and understand the benefit of forming a North American pork industry.

“Issues like the trade dispute (anti-dumping, countervailing), bovine spongiform encephalopathy, and country-of-origin labeling drive the U.S.-Canadian industries further apart.

“Environment, animal health, worker safety, packing capacity, food safety and product movement are just some of the issues we share. And, we share a continuous border, culture and language. This should be used to our advantage, not viewed as a threat.

“A larger issue is inventory reporting and managing production growth. With the movement toward a united North American industry, market signals will be more readily transferred and responded to on both sides of the border. Unused packing capacity and excess farrowing production could be shared with easier movement in both directions.

“Producer leaders, packers and processors need to realize the strength of a united North American pork industry. A world trade advantage could be realized with cooperative efforts.”

Larry Graham, Graham Strategic Marketing Inc., Clive, Iowa (former National Pork Producers Council CEO)

“I believe we will, and should, have one industry organization led by those who control the majority of the hogs. Whether funded by mandatory or voluntary contributions, those who own the hogs should provide the leadership and direction.

“From a production aspect, we will continue to be the world's most innovative and least-cost producers of pork, assuming the industry will be able to avoid burdensome restrictions caused by government agencies and/or animal activists.

“The U.S. pork industry has an unprecedented opportunity to provide increasing amounts of quality products to a global market. We have the technology, the infrastructure and, most importantly, the people to make it happen.”

Pork packers

Jeff Luckman, Smithfield Foods Inc., Smithfield, Va.

“Pork procurement, once driven by cost, is now driven by the consumer's desire for product uniformity and consistency.

“This trend will accelerate over the next 10 to 20 years as the pork industry continues to focus on genetic selection, technology, feeding practices, animal well-being programs and environmental safeguards to improve meat quality and satisfy consumer demand.

“Our industry continues to adopt procurement programs to meet consumer demand. For example, our Farmland Foods division has introduced a new premium program rewarding producers for achieving the highest quality standards while allowing them to reach optimal production economics.

“Also, Smithfield Foods' subsidiaries, in conjunction with our genetic company, developed a special breed to meet Japanese consumers' preference for more heavily-marbled pork cuts.

“Price discovery will also continue to be a major issue. Smithfield Foods, a major buyer of open-market hogs, will continue its commitment to buy hogs from producers on the open market, emphasize cooperation among producers, packers and retailers, and, offer producers risk management services.”

Julie Craven, Hormel Foods Corp., Austin, Minn.

“Hormel Foods has been a leader in product and packaging innovation to meet the changing lifestyles of consumers. Continued simplification in the preparation of meals by consumers will be a key component in the future, involving the development of new products that will be appealing in the marketplace.

“Packaging enhancements will be an important part of the solution to deliver quicker, easier meals with maximum quality. More diverse flavor profiles rooted in more cultures from around the world will continue to emerge.

“Products designed to be foolproof for consumers to prepare, while still delivering flavor satisfaction, will be the winners.”

Pork quality

Robert G. Kauffman, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

“The consumer demand for meat is now at an all-time high, especially in the United States — and the trend seems to be catching on internationally. I predict this demand will continue indefinitely.

“As long as grain production continues to be economical, at a price that can be efficiently converted to lean, high quality pork, pork should remain in demand, worldwide.

“The current trends to produce pork in mass quantities should help minimize cost of production. New technologies in slaughtering and further processing to improve quality, safety and shelf life should continue to insure a high demand for pork.

“Technologies such as electrical stimulation, rapid chilling and additions of safe chemicals (such as sodium bicarbonate) should continue to improve the qualitative properties, such as water-holding capacity, color, juiciness, flavor and tenderness.

“Challenges and opportunities for all segments of the industry include:

  • “Safe, sanitary, disease-free pork must continue to be a high priority.

  • “Pork carcasses must be heavier to minimize costs of slaughtering; leaner by minimizing fat production and increasing muscle:bone ratios via heavier muscling; and, of higher quality through breeding, antemortem handling, proper slaughtering procedures (prevention of cold shortening and rapid pH decline), and maintenance of an ultimate water-holding capacity and desirable pinkish-red color.

    “The leanest, most efficiently produced pork will not be acceptable if it is dry, off-flavored, tough and most of all, tainted with bacteria and filth. The industry must continue positive efforts to eliminate the pale, soft and exudative (PSE) pork, which remain a major quality problem worldwide.

  • “Ongoing concern about pig welfare, from farrowing to slaughter. Packers must be equally concerned about safe and desirable working conditions for their employees.

  • “More effort is necessary to vertically integrate the industry for more efficient production and processing, to maintain the highest level of quality control during the life of the pig and after it is harvested.

  • “As third world countries continue to raise their standards of living, pork must be marketed and distributed effectively at an affordable price.”


Rob Knox, University of Illinois, Urbana, Ill.

“In the next 10 to 20 years, advances in reproduction will segment into specialized technologies for the sale and supply of genetic materials or for commercial production.

“In the production of fewer nucleus animals with unique genetic material, technologies will include transgenic animals, cloned animals, sexed semen, embryos, more dependence on computerized semen analysis and more specific laboratory semen fertility tests.

“In the advanced stages of this technology, it is conceivable that we will see the sale of a litter of frozen embryos containing a valuable transgene, which was produced from sexed, frozen semen. The litter will have been implanted into a recipient sow following the hormonal synchronization of estrus.

“In commercial production, the need for improved diagnostics will dominate changes. There is a clear need for tools to more accurately indicate estrus and ovulation, ovarian status, fertility of sperm, occurrence of fertilization, establishment of pregnancy, the number of fetuses, time of farrowing and fetal condition during delivery.

“Indicators for any or all of these reproductive events or measures would allow adjustments in management procedures that would limit the excessive reproductive losses common today.

“Advanced diagnostics to measure reproductive behaviors at estrus, in combination with detection of hormones at estrus, will enable precision artificial insemination (AI).

“In AI technology, fewer sperm per insemination will likely be used in combination with intrauterine insemination (IUI) methods. In an integrated production system, the ability to use superior sires over more animals will help increase product consistency and quality. Using fewer sperm with IUI opens the door to greater use of frozen semen.

“There are many challenges for the commercial use of frozen semen, but the advantages in on-farm availability, day-to-day consistency, limited bacterial growth and ease of use may outweigh limitations in shipping and storage.

“In the larger breeding herds, we will likely see less dependence on the boar to stimulate ovarian function and expression of estrus, and to facilitate breeding. This labor-intensive procedure will shift toward hormonal control.

“If improved synchrony in breeding, litter size and farrowing dates is attained, consistency in marketing animals will also result.”

Harold H. Hodson Jr., Swine Genetics International, Ankeny, Iowa

“Almost 80% of commercial sows are presently bred by artificial insemination (AI). This will increase until AI services 95% of sows.

“Export of liquid and frozen semen has recently increased, a trend that will continue due to health precautions and the cost of importing live breeding animals.

“As more gene markers are identified, their use will rapidly spread through the industry via AI. In 10 to 20 years, AI boars will be identified not only by their feedlot, carcass and reproductive performance, but also by the beneficial genes they carry.

“Two AI innovations will probably continue to develop in the next 20 years:

  • “Use of intrauterine insemination will increase, thus reducing sperm per dose and the number of boars needed in the industry.

  • “Semen sexing is not yet practical, but the technology will likely develop to make it more feasible, particularly if combined with deep intrauterine insemination.

“I am concerned about the narrowing genetic base within the purebred industry. This is particularly true of the commercially-oriented purebred seedstock industry.”

Bill N. Day, University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo.

“I believe producers will have commercially available ‘tools’ to select an effective program for predetermined time for breeding through artificial insemination or, alternatively, the non-surgical transfer of embryos produced by in vitro maturation, fertilization and culture.”


Fields Gunsett, Newsham Genetics, Colorado Springs, Colo.

“As a participant and observer of the pork industry the past 25 years, who would have envisioned the rate of consolidation we've seen?

“In the early 1980s, group-farrowed, pasture-raised, family-owned, rotational crossbreeding systems that used natural service boars were still prevalent. Buying systems were based on grade and yield, while carcasses were valued on their length with no consideration for leanness. Artificial insemination was a novelty.

“The estimation of BLUP (best linear unbiased prediction) breeding values was an intriguing idea promoted by a few statistical geneticists, but the computing power to run the models was still well off in the horizon.

“My vision of the genetic aspect of our industry is as follows:

“For the short term, the industry will continue to consolidate. Fewer and fewer people will decide which genetic resources to use. This increases the probability that genetic resources will be lost — resources that may have unrecognized value today.

“With consolidation, some innovators will exploit the need for niche markets, such as pasture-raised or antibiotic-free pork, or a product with unique properties. These producers will either develop their own breeding stock or partner with suppliers that meet their niche market needs.

“New molecular genetic technologies will be utilized to genetically differentiate individuals within the population. The federal government will support an international effort to sequence the pig genome. This genome mapping information will be in the public domain, allowing any research organization access and providing more genetic information to the genetics community than any single study previously conducted.

“The merit of new genomics technology will not be limited to the development of markers to be used in breeding programs. New technologies will allow better understanding of pathogens and disease agents that may have their own genotypes. Manipulation of these genotypes may allow us to produce healthier animals, enhance traits that are difficult to measure, and differentiate animals to assist niche markets.

“Understanding how genes interact, when genes are turned on and off, how imprinting is controlled and how genetic information is interpreted by the target metabolic pathway will remain challenges for the future.

“Allied to the genetics area will be technologies, such as sperm sorting, that allow the production of same-sex litters. Large gilt systems, for example, will make production more efficient and the animals more uniform.

“Genetics programs can make large numbers of terminal sires from specific matings to insure the greatest selection differential when producing sires of a specific genotype. This technology will need to be coupled with deep uterine insemination, which reduces the number of sperm needed for insemination.

“Other allied technologies that may impact the application of genetics include non-surgical embryo collection, in vitro fertilization, embryo washing and non-surgical embryo transfer. These technologies will facilitate the movement of germ plasm across populations with differing health status.

“We have been successful at changing traits that impact current economics — growth, leanness, efficiency and reproductive capacity. We may need to refocus our attention on other traits that will gain in economic importance, such as behavior traits (competition, aggression) for group housing situations.

“There is little doubt that the inclusion of genetic markers into marker-assisted, genetic evaluation programs will accelerate genetic change. The paradox is using this technology in a cost-effective manner.

“There is no incentive to adopt new ideas unless they improve the product for our customers. Due to the small profit margin associated with most products used by producers, the implementation of new technology may be delayed because the cost of implementation cannot be justified.”

Darrell D. Anderson, National Swine Registry, West Lafayette, Ind.

“The next 10 to 20 years will yield some very interesting developments in seedstock production. As the industry addresses some serious pork quality issues and strives to deliver a superior eating experience, there will be many opportunities for genetic improvement.

“In addition to the current BLUP (best linear unbiased prediction) technology for evaluating genetic improvement, there will finally be some significant ‘marker-assisted’ genetic selection tools. This genomic technology will allow for more rapid genetic improvement as genetic suppliers raise the bar for muscle quality.

“There will be a plethora of opportunities for those who can design specific genetic lines to fit the expanding branded and specification markets.

“There will be a dramatic increase in ‘story pork’ as consumers demand to know more about the origin, handling and history of the product they choose. They will be willing to pay a significant premium for a consistent, tasty product that yields a superior eating experience.

“The emphasis on high herd health will continue, and the national animal identification program will have an enormous impact on how hogs are identified. This will set the stage for an effective traceability program.

“Breeders who successfully design systems that maximize heterosis will rise to the top of the industry. Genetic lines selected for a high degree of predictability, and focused on emerging traits of importance, will be in great demand in the U.S. and throughout the world.

“Another segment of the industry that will thrive will be the producers of club pigs, as youth pig projects continue to be utilized as a teaching tool for life skills. In an effort to keep youth interested and involved in animal agriculture, the continued success of this segment will be vital to the industry's future.”

Dean Compart, Compart's Boar Store, Nicollet, Minn.

“The advancement of the swine industry will be laid on the shoulders of many segments.

“Access to biotechnology is a concern for relatively small or regional seedstock suppliers. With the tremendous genetics and abilities of these breeders, this segment must be included in shaping the industry's future.

“U.S. seedstock has been popular in the advancement of swine genetics internationally. The demand for diversity of animals is great.

“A ‘cookie cutter’ approach cannot satisfy all of these markets, so breeders with philosophical differences have an opportunity in these foreign markets. This diversity is good, as future demands likely will not remain static.

“Maintaining high herd health will continue to be a challenge to all seedstock suppliers. Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome has decimated breeding herds and, despite research commitments, seems to be thriving. Having dealt with the infection in both our breeding herd and boar stud facility, I can tell you it is difficult to watch lifelong efforts depopulated and lost forever.

“The need to protect the breeding herd is critical. The investment in facilities property and the start-up costs of high-health farms are staggering. Protection from other nearby swine facilities should be considered.

“For those seedstock suppliers who offer high health along with a documented performance testing program, including third-party verification, I feel the future is bright.

“The value of traceable genetics (pedigreed) will increase as science advances. Research needs accurate data and information to interpret.”

Allen E. Christian, Iowa State Breeding & Teaching Herd Manager, Ames, Iowa

“For those in the business of producing seedstock, genetic markers for important traits will be found.

“Maximizing heterosis will continue to be an important factor, and pure genetics will play a big role. Pure lines of hogs with high muscle quality will be sought.

“Technology will help us make fewer mistakes, but good sense and the ‘eye’ will be important in the development of the ‘super’ hog. Perhaps it's here and we just haven't identified it yet!

“There is a lot of creativity involved in swine breeding — creativity to do bold and outlandish things, which sometimes produces unbelievable results. Unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer breeders available or willing to do this, for the results aren't always profitable nor acceptable.

“With our growing knowledge base, it should be much easier to accomplish lofty goals and to make future generations of pigs better.

“Old-fashioned thinking? Perhaps. Idealistic? Maybe. Some have tried. It is my hope and dream that others will continue to try.

“At the consumer level, I think building confidence that our product is safe, healthful and raised in a humane manner is both a challenge and an opportunity.

“We must be vigilant about removing the stress gene from the swine population. We must improve the image of our industry by reducing the odor and the stigma now associated with pork production. Finally, we must provide help and encouragement to specialized producers in developing and creating markets.”


Michael Brumm, University of Nebraska, Concord, Neb.

“While considering the future of Extension in the U.S. swine industry, we must first take a look at the past.

“Prior to the massive restructuring of the past 10 years, the industry was very homogeneous, dominated by farrow-to-finish producers. Anyone with more than a few hundred sows was considered ‘big’.

“Producers' educational needs were very similar. Leading-edge production research was conducted at land grant universities and USDA sites across the U.S. Extension ably filled the role of transferring the new discoveries into production recommendations.

“Educational needs changed. With fewer and larger producers, the number of decision-makers declined, although the number of pigs they impacted increased. Their educational needs are more specific, often requiring application to a unique set of circumstances. Many production systems now have in-house research units that investigate and find solutions to production problems specifically for that system.

“With reduced USDA and state support for the basic infrastructure associated with applied research, there are fewer universities and USDA laboratories doing ‘applied’ research. Increasingly, public dollars are funding ‘basic’ research.

“While basic research is important to the long-term viability of the industry, the traditional Land Grant mission of translating basic research into applied recommendations has declined. This means the translation of basic into applied knowledge often happens behind closed doors.

“Extension will be less involved in the specifics of production and more involved in the education of the global community. Extension will serve as an information source for those setting public policy, concerned with food safety, etc.

“While there will continue to be extension educators, the number with specific educational abilities will decrease. There will be more regionalization of information as fewer dollars fund the infrastructure of Extension and production research.

“Producers seeking information and assistance in a specific area may have to look beyond their state boundaries. Producers will demand that information be available on an as-needed basis. Information delivery will go beyond web-based learning, email, telephone or even traditional extension delivery methods.

“A challenge for Extension will be to generate enough income to support its basic education mission. Without public funds, education access will become fee-based.

“Another challenge is the growing lack of knowledge by U.S. and global consumers about food production. The welfare movement is an example of how consumers and public policy can be influenced when this knowledge of pork production is limited.

“Finding future industry leaders is another concern. With less than 75,000 farms with pigs, pork producers must be as involved with public issues as they are with production issues. Those who are active will dictate public policy.

“The pork industry's opportunities lie with involvement in consumer education and public policy, which can pay big dividends as we compete with other protein sources for the consumer's dollar.”

Swine health

John Waddell, DVM, Sutton Veterinary Clinic, Sutton, Neb.

“Yogi Berra once said, ‘Predictions are difficult, especially about the future.’ Trying to predict swine health and production trends 10 to 20 years into the future — I agree with Yogi!

“In less than 10 years, we will be looking back and asking ourselves why it took so long to solve the porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome problem. The solution is coming before the end of the next decade.

“New vaccines and methods for disease control, such as genetic resistance, will further reduce our need for antimicrobials. Antibiotic resistance will still be an issue, but there will still be no evidence of use in livestock contributing to substantial risk to humans.

“Veterinarians will continue to be the primary source of health and production information, but by virtue of the PRRS solution, my colleagues will be able to provide substantially more input into such concerns as welfare.

“By this time, we will have found that sows actually prefer being housed in individual stalls, since there is less competition for food and water as well as freedom from aggressive pen mates with severe cases of MGS (mid-gestation syndrome). MGS makes sows much more aggressive and prone to biting, riding and generally causing injuries to those unaffected sows.

“We can get a sneak peak at potential levels of production by witnessing the Danes. We are now learning of Danish producers who are sustaining 30 pigs/mated female/year.

“The challenge for our generation is to learn how to transfer this technology to a new generation of pork producers in North America.”

D.L. (Hank) Harris, DVM, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

“There will be major improvements in infectious disease prevention and control based on proper siting and construction of new facilities. Upper management will recognize the economic impact of disease and exert appropriate measures for biosecurity and welfare training.

“New infectious diseases will continue to emerge, but diseases such as porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome and postweaning multi-systemic wasting syndrome will be conquered utilizing vaccines, genetic resistance and/or management approaches. The PRRS virus will be eradicated from the U.S. by 2015 or be adequately controlled by vaccines before then. New diseases will be primarily viral, but bacterial agents will reemerge and cause economic losses.

“Breeding stock, biologics and pharmaceutical companies will form alliances (or via acquisitions) to combine the power of animal genetics with vaccine and/or drug mechanisms of action for disease prevention and control. ‘Vaccine-ready’ breeding stock will become a common marketing strategy.”

Scott Dee, DVM, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minn.

“Clearly, the largest health challenge that faces our industry today is porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome. Large populations of PRRS naïve breeding stock are available, and eradication of the disease from an individual farm is possible via a number of different time-tested methods.

“However, reinfection with a different strain of PRRS virus is a frequent event. Fortunately, identification of the indirect routes of PRRS virus transmission, along with the development and testing of scientifically sound biosecurity protocols, are nearing completion.

“My vision for the next 10-20 years regards the unification of pork producers and veterinarians, resulting in the development of regional PRRS control and eradication programs across North America.

“Following PRRS virus elimination from clustered farms, each region will wrap itself in a ‘web of biosecurity’ based, once again, on science, protecting itself from reinfection.

“This effort will be driven by a team that includes the National Pork Board, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and NC-229 scientists associated with the USDA-NRI PRRS integrated program project.

“Here's my timeline:

  • 2005-2010 — documentation of completion of successful regional pilot projects in the U.S., Canada and Mexico;

  • 2011-2024 — replication of results across other regions of the continent;

  • 2025 — North America declared free of the PRRS virus.

“Producers need to unite and work together towards a common goal. They must always put their trust in their veterinarian and have faith that the science will lead the way.”

Roy Schultz, DVM, swine consulting veterinarian, Avoca, Iowa

“My vision of the pork industry in the next 10 to 20 years expands beyond the field of swine health and veterinary medicine. It envisions the pork industry as an integral part of the food industry, encompassing not only swine health, but also human health.

“A majority of animal diseases are zoonotic (possibly becoming diseases of human significance). Presently, we have less exposure than other competitive meats and disease conditions, such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy in beef and Asian influenza in poultry.

“We must continue working on the image and reality of a safe and wholesome product. We must work on promoting pork as a tasty, delightful, nutritious, and life style-healthy supply of our daily protein needs. Production must be traceable to the farm of origin and verified, by third-party audits if necessary, that the animals are raised in a welfare-friendly atmosphere and on inputs monitored for safety and purity.

“We must keep our herds free of known and emerging diseases. We must take biosecurity to a higher level, controlling and monitoring all air, water, feed, mechanical vectors, insects, rodents, pigs, people and other inputs.

“PRRS, the current scourge of swine health, only affects our cost of production. It is not zoonotic and does not affect consumption of our product. Efficient vaccines, transmission barriers and production flows will control PRRS. It will eventually be subdued and eliminated. Enhanced biosecurity will play a vital role.

“I believe genetics and genetic manipulation will play a future role in the control of disease, as will immuno-modulating enhancements. Swine health will encompass the resistance of the animal, so clinical disease is not expressed.

“Vaccines with user-friendly delivery systems will be available in aerosols, water and feed inclusions. Bacterial and viral phages will be available, should the pathogens exceed the immunological resistance threshold of the herd.

“Biotechnology will have the ability to improve health, muscle growth, feed efficiency and carcass and nutritional enhancement, but will continue to meet resistance on a global basis.

“There will be continued consolidation of the swine industry on a global basis. In the United States, 80% of pork production will be in the hands of ‘food companies.’

“Exports, both quantity and quality, will be products fed and processed according to specific customer demands. Commodity products will be produced and exported where they can be produced the cheapest, much like the tennis shoe industry. This may be an area such as Brazil, where labor, land, feed and facilities are cheap.”

Rodger D. Schneck, DVM, Alpharma Animal Health, Milan, Minn.

“What a formidable task to predict swine health challenges and opportunities for the next 10 to 20 years.

“Disease control, prevention and eradication should take center stage — and a number of opportunities exist.

“Genetic selection for resistance has continuing potential, along with new and improved vaccines with superior delivery methods.

“Subunit vaccines, and those incorporating antigenic fractions, hold promise. But we must achieve needle-free administration. Safety, efficacy and ease of administration should be our goals. Oral and aerosol routes should be actively explored.

“We need to expand on our disease eradication successes. Eradication programs are only as successful as the diagnostic tests available. Diagnostic programs and submissions will evolve steadily towards preventive programs, rather than treatment options. Biosecurity has advanced, but it must be adopted more extensively.

“Welfare concerns must enter the decision process at all levels of production, as the number of days that a pig is sick or injured is a measure of swine welfare.

“Pigmanship skills can undermine or contribute to the success of all swine health interventions and they need to be honed and taken to the next level.

“Treatment regimes and disease interventions should become easier as eradication/prevention programs continue to evolve. Although some swine diseases can and should be eradicated, there are others that appear as somewhat normal inhabitants for which effective vaccines seem elusive.

“Individual treatment can never be fully avoided, and the need for strategic and therapeutic pulsing will continue. Immune modulators and competitive exclusion products hold some promise, but inconsistency and public perception will remain concerns.”

Steve A. Sornsen, DVM, Pfizer Animal Health, Ames, Iowa

“One of the most important aspects of swine production is developing and maintaining good health. Three-site production systems have improved facility utilization and inputs such as labor, but have generally failed to deliver the anticipated consistent level of high health.

“Disease is a constant threat, both in terms of catastrophic loss and reduction in throughput. It is critical to minimize disease, whether it is introduced or circulated within. Thus, biosecurity has become extremely important as economically significant decisions, such as depopulation/repopulation, are currently made with limited data.

“There is a need to develop information that gives us relatively accurate probabilities of success, such as a better understanding of how diseases are spread or the probability of detecting a disease and preventing it from entering a herd or area.

“Another critical area of research is to understand, on a genetic level, the factors that enable pathogens to cause disease. While we know the disease agents, in many cases we know relatively little about the actual mechanisms of infection. Once these factors are determined researchers armed with information of the pathogen's genome will likely be able to develop new generation, genetically-modified vaccines capable of stimulating stronger and broader protection.

“Antimicrobial agents that have both a high level of efficacy and a good safety profile in terms of both swine and human medicine will continue to be developed.

“One of the biggest challenges the U.S. swine industry continues to face is creating equity to encourage future investment. Capital expenditures will be required to maintain and grow the current infrastructure.

“Environmental regulations and policies will need to be consistent with the goals of the industry in order to provide the framework for this growth. The opportunity to create this equity lies in the industry's ability to understand and meet our consumer's needs, domestically and globally.”

Steve Henry, DVM, Abilene Animal Hospital, P.A., Abilene, Kan.

“During my 43 years in the industry, the focus of producers and veterinarians has broadened tremendously.

“Larger issues related to disease — those of industry impact, food safety, product quality and even capital acquisition — are still developing and pointing the way to the future.

“The changed definition of swine health, from meaning ‘no sick pigs’ to ‘healthful, safe product,’ radically expands our perspective of microbes, toxins and parasites.

“Speculating on the future of swine health is always dangerous and probably personally foolish, yet too tempting to pass by. Therefore, these opinions are mine alone. They reflect 43 years as a producer/veterinarian dedicated to pigs. I offer these observations:

  • “Production wastage has many compartments that have produced less than satisfying results. Total in-production mortality results in less than 70% of fetuses completing the production cycle, despite monumental advances in genetic improvement, pharmaceutical and biologic interventions, dramatically improved environment and assured nutrition. Understanding and correcting these losses offer huge opportunities.

  • “Specific pathogen elimination, is not a new idea. Eradication of hog cholera, pseudorabies and brucellosis are excellent examples. The Specific-Pathogen-Free program, successful porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome elimination from herds and mycoplasma elimination strategies are clearly effective. The incentives to move away from ‘living with it’ through drugs and vaccines, both having limited effectiveness and high cost, are increasing.

  • “Swine health through drugs is not the concept that the end-product consumer or the pork seller has in mind. Large populations free of specific pathogens will be the new standard.

  • “The public funding of institutions for research and basic knowledge is fading in the U.S. There is a vacuum that must be filled if the technical tools are to be developed.

  • “One example with a huge impact on swine health is the necessary biosecurity collapse that attends the entrance of new genetic material into populations.

“The need to integrate advancing genetic values into herds is unquestioned. But, on a commercial scale, we have yet to find secure, reliable and economical methods to capture the genetics without endangering herd health through pathogen transfer.

“Similarly, the hygiene needed and the biosecurity protocols that can confidently be implemented for animal health, as well as food safety, must be a part of future knowledge and operating protocol.

“The productivity and efficiency strides made in the past 50 years have been enormous, but I believe the best is yet to come. We have a unique industry with a great drive to progress and prosper; we are early adopters of technology, and adaptation is not feared. These attributes are most powerful.”


Don Mahan, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

“Greater nutritional emphasis will be placed on sow nutrient needs, particularly nutrients affecting longevity and survivability of sows in the breeding herd. Current National Research Council recommendations do not meet the needs of the high-producing sow.

“Phase feeding of sows during gestation, feeding practices two to three weeks before farrowing and better feeding practices during lactation will address special nutrient needs.

“Seedstock companies will need to provide more accurate models of nutrient requirements for their genetic lines at various productivity levels. For example, genetic lines with different appetites, lean growth levels and responses to various rearing practices will have different nutrient requirements.

“The current practice of eliminating poor performers may be because of inadequate nutrition when diets were formulated and fed to higher-producing animals. This practice effectively eliminates good genetic material from the gene pool.

“Greater emphasis will be placed on mineral (macro, micro) balance, dietary level and source (organic, inorganic) in swine diets. The role of dietary enzymes and phytase in mineral nutrition will continue to be investigated.

“Dietary additives will be developed that will greatly reduce or eliminate swine odor.

“Genetically-modified swine capable of secreting enzymes for digesting feedstuffs that have been difficult to use by the pig may be developed. Supplemental enzymes capable of bypassing the stomach to remain active in the digestive tract will be available.

“Nutrient excesses commonly formulated in swine diets were largely because the grains and nutrients were in ample supply and relatively cheap. Environmental concerns, and in some cases poorer performances (caused by nutrient excesses), will encourage more critical definition of minimal requirements.

“Feed processing and by-product quality and consistency will improve over the next two decades. New technology will produce products of higher quality and of known and guaranteed nutrient quality and composition.”

Mike Tokach, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan.

“Looking at the long-term in swine nutrition, I will focus on each phase of production:

  • “Sow nutrition: Improved, low-cost methods to provide proper feeding levels to sows in groups will facilitate those who wish to, or are driven to, adopt this housing alternative.

    “Weight variation of incoming gilts will be controlled. This will reduce the variation in sow body weight at farrowing and simplify feeding in subsequent gestations, because variation in sow size will be reduced within each parity.

    “Simplified, sow-controlled, automatic feed delivery systems will replace other feeding methods in the farrowing house.

    “Increased batch farrowing and flowing to wean-to-finish systems will help capture the benefits of all-in, all-out, large groups, plus decrease transport costs, improve average daily gains and decrease downtime.

  • “Nursery nutrition: With current and subsequent recapitalization of the industry, I anticipate that nurseries will disappear as wean-to-finish becomes the norm.

    “Diet complexity will decrease greatly as weaning age increases and other tools are developed to help get pigs started on feed.

  • “Finisher nutrition: The number of phases will decrease to reduce the diets delivered to a site. Driven by costs and increased nutrient requirements in late finishing, this should lead to some ‘leveling out’ of nutrient requirements.

“We may see increased diet blending on-site or blending of amino acid/protein supplements into a common diet to simplify feed delivery. The push for improved feed efficiency will escalate with the desire to drive down energy costs through decreased feed milling and diet delivery.

“I also worry about openness of research in the future. Decreased federal and state funding and pressure on checkoff programs will decrease university research. With the number of private research sites built in production units, I'm not concerned that production research will disappear; however, I am concerned about the potential lack of openness and sharing of research data.

“Lack of peer review can lead to tunnel vision on how one interprets the data, and greatly increases duplication of efforts. Sharing of information between production systems will increase in importance as public research and number of ‘data connectors’ decrease.”

John Goihl, Agri-Nutrition Services Inc., Shakopee, Minn.

“Nutritional requirements and feeding programs will continue to be fine-tuned for optimal production at the most economical cost.

“More information is needed on how nutrition affects the immune status and resulting health of the pig.

“The traditional corn and soybean meal diets will be challenged by an increasing availability of synthetic amino acids and co-products from industries like ethanol. Soybean usage in swine diets could be significantly reduced in the future.

“Macro and micro minerals will receive greater attention, for more exacting requirements and according to the source of the mineral or enzyme supplementation needed to minimize excretion into the environment.

“Some of the greatest challenges and opportunities I see in swine nutrition will be driven by the amounts of by-products from the food and other industries. These will need to be consumed by pigs because of the increased restriction of disposing of such products in landfills.

“The pig of the future will be an excellent recycler of many non-traditional or waste ingredients.”

Animal welfare

Stanley Curtis, University of Illinois, Urbana, Ill.

“We in the U.S. stand at an impasse on the farm-animal welfare issue, primarily because there is a credibility gap among animal welfare scientists, as well as between some scientists and animal producers. Consequently, conflict resolution is impossible.

“The route we take to eventually come to terms on this issue will have to be uniquely American. Because socio-economic and socio-political climates, cultural traditions and human values differ from place to place, so inevitably will the evolution of any public issue, and that includes farm-animal welfare.

“The U.S. pork industry and its lead organization seem not to recognize this. They're still taking their cue from applied ethologists who follow dogma that has arisen in the United Kingdom (UK), Europe and Canada. They're taking their cue from scientists who've commandeered the scientific facet of the issue as they espouse the unwisely biased thinking that arose in England some 40 years ago.

“For all intents and purposes, these scientists have dismissed any approach to assessing a pig's state of being that is based on animal function and performance. They've concluded, instead, that assessment based on animal feelings is virtually the sole approach to take.

“Indeed, most animal welfare scientists outside the U.S. believe this way, as do U.S. animal activists and leaders of the U.S. food marketing and foodservice industries. But beliefs are not necessarily truths.

“I don't concur with espousing the ‘feelings approach’, and I'm not alone. But the feelings approach, having to do with allegations of conscious suffering, continues to reign in the public discourse.

“This is interesting — and alarming. Animal agriculture needs a significant paradigm shift as it deals with this critical issue, and the sooner the better.

“An axiom that long has been given short shrift by most mainstream discussants of farm-animal welfare emphasizes that a pig's performance is, at this point in time, the best indicator of that pig's state of being.

“We have to get behind the scientific testing of the hypotheses that I predict would evolve from greater emphasis on the performance axiom. Then, all stakeholders (producers, protectionists, scientists) should embrace a much-needed paradigm shift and get on with the matter to the mutual satisfaction of all, and to the benefit of the pigs.

“Here's the ‘Performance Axiom’: For a constitutionally fit animal of any kind — in the continuing absence of an adequate, scientifically informed understanding of its conscious feelings — the best single set of measurable, hence manageable, indicators of that animal's state of being will be its rates of productive and reproductive performances relative to its predicted potential to perform. Body condition index and rates of culling, morbidity and mortality also will provide valuable information on animal state of being.

“Management guru Peter Drucker states: ‘You can't manage what you can't measure.’

“How rational. And yet, the mainstream approach to dealing with animal state of being ignores this self-evident fact. This is weird because, as everyone agrees, we can't yet measure how a pig feels. It's unreasonable to expect producers to manage pigs on the basis of husbandry factors that can't be measured.

“I'm not saying that some of the behavioral patterns that may signify an emotional reaction by a pig can't be measured. What we still don't have any handle on are any conscious feelings of suffering a pig may experience in connection with such supposed signs of being profoundly disturbed.

“We have yet to scientifically identify any behavioral need of any nonhuman animal. So we can't yet know whether or not any behavioral needs a pig may have are being met.

“The immeasurability — hence, unmanageability — of animal feelings forms the basis of why I think current attempts to coerce and regulate animal husbandry practices along that line are futile, and might not even be in the best interests of high pig state of being.

“When bodily resources become limited because a pig is in a situation necessitating extraordinary adaptation of any kind, productive processes will be the first to decrease. Reproductive functions will be next. Maintenance processes, which ensure survival, last. So, observed reductions in measurable productive-performance traits are the earliest, most sensitive indicators that a pig's well-being has been disturbed.

“Let's stipulate that pigs do feel discomfort and pain. I think they do. And I wish scientific research on pig cognition would be increased many fold. Still, at this time, we can't describe how any pig feels in any specific situation, let alone measure the depth of any such feeling. We can speculate, surmise, analogize and anthropomorphize, but we cannot know, set thresholds, define limits or draw lines.

“I think the best direction for us to take in the U.S. would be based on the notion that a pig's rate of performance will usually be the best single indicator — in terms of availability, measurability, objectivity and sensitivity — of its state of being.

“We urge U.S. pork producers to immediately reinvigorate their commitment to a more scientifically rational approach to evaluating a pig's state of being, to reclaim a major portion of control of their own destiny in this critical matter. We also urge them to instruct their staffs to start giving serious consideration to the function and performance approach to evaluating the state of being of a pig and those who embrace it.”

Anna Kerr Johnson, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

“The U.S. pork industry, like other animal commodity groups, is being challenged and scrutinized by groups and individuals outside of the production sector. These groups range in their demands from those who do not agree with raising animals for food (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), to groups who oppose specific production practices or housing systems (Animal Welfare Institute; Humane Society of the U.S.).

“More recently, the foodservice industry has become actively engaged in welfare guidelines from farm to fork (Food Marketing Institute; National Council of Chain Restaurants). These entities are very well organized and in some cases very well funded.

“I believe that in the next few years the debate on the way producers assure swine welfare throughout the production chain, either through assessments, certification and/or third party audits, will be hotly debated. During this timeframe, the pathway for the way we do business in regards to welfare will be secured. Whether the decision will be industry-driven, foodservice-driven or an agreement from both sides has yet to be decided. But, all parties need to be at the table when these discussions occur.

“I think the U.S. swine industry needs to become fully educated on the science vs. ethics debate in regards to animal welfare and the roles played by the producer, foodservice arena and final customer. Although the industry's mission is to base pork producer programs and education on science, those involved need to understand the science vs. ethics debates to maintain pork producer viability.

“A crucial factor will be a commitment to work across other industries (beef, soybean, poultry, dairy) and partners within the industry, (pork producers of all sizes, veterinarians, animal scientists, industry allied partners, universities, packers) to form alliances. We must also be aware of, and communicate with, humane groups in the U.S.

“Future challenges for the U.S. swine industry include:

  • Space allowance for the grow/finisher pig;

  • Transportation;

  • Caretaker skills and education;

  • Sow mortality and longevity;

  • Fatigued pigs; and

  • Routine husbandry practices that can be invasive (i.e. castration, teeth clipping, tail docking).

“Research is being funded by the Pork Checkoff in all of these areas, and results will help the U.S. swine industry navigate through these issues. Additionally, the industry must be cognizant of global meetings pertaining to animal welfare, as decisions made in other parts of the world can affect our export markets.”

John J. McGlone, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas

“It does not take a great visionary to see that animal welfare is currently having an impact on the pork industry — on the farm or at the processing level. However, thus far, the issue has been largely ceremonial.

“Awareness of the National Pork Board-developed educational and assessment program called the Swine Welfare Assurance Program (SWAP) is very high, but very few are actively collecting the information.

“The next step is to have an internal and external audit of pig welfare. Most farms are not doing this, but this will change.

“Pork production is a business that produces a biologic, perishable and sensitive product. Customers have certain requirements such as portion size, nutritional content and price. Now we can add societal issues, including animal welfare, food safety, environmental issues and human health/safety.

“Documentation of on-farm animal welfare audits will happen in a period of months to years, not decades. The question is, ‘What will come next?’

“It will be fine to collect objective measures of animal welfare (thin sows, lameness, wounds, etc.), but what will be done with this information? The line between ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ welfare will be important. Will it be based on science, emotion or a public relations company's focus group findings?

“In my view, the current animal welfare standards are based on about 80% science and the rest on economics and tradition.

“The major animal welfare hot buttons are not the major issues that impact pig welfare. Sow housing (i.e. crates) is a hot topic, but the scientific literature concludes that there are good and bad points about sow welfare in crates vs. pens. From a science standpoint, the gestation crate is not a clear issue of poor welfare.

“On the flip side, there is not a problem with keeping sows in pens. So the reason the industry and the activists are so worked up about sow housing is not because the science tells us there is some grave problem, but rather that activists get emotional traction with the image.

“Here are a few issues that the science indicates are pig welfare problems: pig handling, castration, tail docking, slotted floors of all types, feet and leg problems, down pigs during or after transportation, air quality, floor space and infectious diseases. If the focus is on the science, the industry and their customers will join forces to solve these real problems.

“Emotion may drive the pig welfare issue in the future as it does now. Sow housing is the leading international pig welfare issue. This is only because it is an emotional, not a science-based, concern. If the industry or retailers of pork choose the emotional approach, then we can throw science out the door and hitch our wagon to emotion. This is the activists' approach. If the issue is based on emotion, the activists will win and the animals will lose.

“My hope is that everyone jumps on the science bandwagon, but you cannot jump on and off as the issue rises and falls. Scientific improvement of the state of being of pigs will require many years of controlled scientific investigation and field testing.

“Economics is a part of the reality of pork production, but science and economics are separate. Economics must not trump science if you join the science bandwagon.

Temple Grandin, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo.

“The two major issues that affect animal welfare in the pork industry are sow gestation stalls and genetic effects.

“A gestation stall, where the animal cannot turn around, is a degree of confinement that two-thirds of the public find not acceptable.

“I've interviewed people and shown them pictures of sows in stalls and finishing pigs on totally slotted floors. Almost everybody thought the pigs on the slotted floors were OK. But the response to sow stalls is — one-third have no opinion; one-third were uneasy about them and made comments such as, ‘it doesn't seem right;’ and one-third disapprove of them. I believe the industry will have to phase out sow stalls.

“Another issue is the feet and leg problems that have occurred as pigs were selected for leanness. I have seen groups of market pigs where 50% were lame due to poor leg conformation.

“Genetic selection will be a major key in making group sow housing work and in correcting leg problems. To make any type of group housing work, vicious sows that bite and injure must be culled.”

Process control

John Deen, DVM, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minn.

“Statistical process control (SPC) is undoubtedly going to be one of the tools we continue to use in pork production. I think it has gotten off on the wrong foot, however.

“SPC is part of quality control, which is a discipline to improve the value of a product. We have tried to combine SPC with an aim to minimize cost of production in each segment of the pork industry, and failed in many cases.

“The aim in SPC should be to maximize the value of pigs and pork. This will take new management skills, more tracking of pigs and pork from stage-to-stage and better analytical skills.

“In a more general sense, I think the main challenge will be in developing some level of supply management.

This can be through the industry, as a whole or by creating branded product with strong brand equity.”

Tom Stein, DVM, MetaFarms Inc., Eagan, Minn.

“New information technology will lead to a renaissance of small- to medium-sized producers acting virtually as larger systems, focused on providing value-added products (i.e., specialty breeding for higher fat and taste) to a supply chain, such as Niman Ranch, Whole Foods and Wild Oats.

“New information technology will allow large-scale producers to capture bigger supply chain opportunities (i.e. contracts with Wal-Mart), by giving companies the ability to quickly and efficiently connect independent production systems in a ‘plug-and-play’ manner.

“Third-party orchestrators will emerge to coordinate and manage these plug-and-play supply chains.

“New production information systems that use today's emerging software technology will provide seamless data connections with processors, diagnostic labs, feedmills, boar studs, environmental systems and financial accounting systems.

“At least $9 per pig costs will be pulled out of production by using information systems that focus on business processes, not simply the outcomes (i.e. pigs weaned per week) of those processes.

“There will be business process benchmarking, not just outcome benchmarking. Producers will begin to formally identify the ‘process enablers’ that lead to above-average outcomes. Best practices will emerge, production systems will coalesce around those practices, and the insight gained by analyzing process data will be guarded jealously.

“New information systems in producer-owned packing plants will transparency producers on a product-by-product basis (i.e. loin weight preferences).

“Today, Meadowbrook Farms has an industry-leading kill sheet that will become the industry standard. Data will accumulate rapidly on the variation of primal composition within production systems and, genetic lines, as impacted by disease or pharmaceuticals, etc. This information will lead quickly to better production decisions.

“The resources (time, people, money), to put in place and feed ‘compliance systems’ will dwarf and overwhelm anything you've experienced so far.

“Compliance systems, include animal identification and movement systems, traceability, confined animal feeding operations, emissions information systems, environmental reporting, animal welfare information and process verification systems. Eventually, producers will realize massive value from these compliance systems.

“Ten years from now, you'll be asking yourselves how you could have been in business without these systems and the value they provide.”

David Farnum, DVM,, Ames, Iowa

“Over the past 20 years, the computer has certainly changed the face of recordkeeping in pork production. Some even argue that the ability to keep track of large numbers of breeding animals contributed to the ability to build and manage larger herds.

“Over the next 20 years, three factors will have a huge influence over this area of pork production.

“First, because swine move as groups within production systems, records will be used to both implement and document traceability.

“The implementation of USDA's National Animal Identification System is well underway, and the importance of your recordkeeping system will grow with this new initiative. You will also use your records for market-based, internal traceability and chain traceability systems.

“Second, data analysis is rapidly evolving. More sophisticated tools will help analyze raw data and create useful decision-making tools.

“Third, expect greater adoption of new technologies in the short term. Radio frequency identification, wireless networks and automated data collection are already in use. Longer term, new technologies such as nanotechnology, embedded connectivity, robotics and biosensors will come into play.

“In more general terms, globalization will shape all of agriculture over the next two decades.

Retooling Herd Health Plans

Sustained profitability in the pig business is something we have not experienced for quite some time.

When margins are tight, the tendency is to cut costs wherever and whenever you can. Money spent on herd health and diagnostic protocols are traditionally reduced in a hog operation because they are direct expenses that can easily be identified and adjusted.

Current profitability doesn't mean producers can afford to spend money randomly. But it does provide the opportunity to fine-tune programs and prepare for narrow profit margins.

Intervention strategies, whether based on vaccination or medication, can pay big dividends if timed right.

Now is an excellent time to do some diagnostic evaluations to validate current health control protocols. Considering the huge financial impact that disease has on a swine enterprise, money spent on diagnostics may offer ample payback and be one of the best management decisions that can be made.

Case Study No. 1

One client's farrow-to-finish operation is serologically and clinically positive for swine influenza virus (SIV), Mycoplasmal pneumonia and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), and experiencing intermittent problems with ileitis in finishing.

He produces 1,200 pigs a week so the financial impact throughout the system can be quite large. Current regimen is two doses of a combination SIV/Mycoplasma vaccine and tylosin in the feed for clinical signs of ileitis.

We have proposed sampling each age group of pigs from weaning to market at four-week intervals. We are going to test for serological exposure to PRRS, SIV, Mycoplasma and Lawsonia intracellularis (the causative agent of ileitis) across these different age groups.

The cost of testing when spread out across all of his pigs, done on a quarterly basis, comes to approximately $.08/pig. It's difficult to know exactly the cost of these different diseases to a production system, but it can very easily approach $3-$4/head. He is spending $1.90/pig on SIV, Mycoplasma and ileitis control.

We're not sure if this exercise will prove beneficial, but it's a good idea to find out if money is being spent at the right time, and being able to use ileitis feed medication to prevent rather than treat disease.

Case Study No. 2

This client owns a 3,200-sow, farrow-to-wean operation. He sells weaned pigs weekly on a contract basis to several different producers. His sow herd is PRRS-positive and stable. However, about every 12-18 months the farm experiences increased problems with the PRRS virus.

Our recommendation for this client is a bimonthly serological profile across the different breeding groups to monitor for PRRS, influenza and Mycoplasma. We feel that this will benefit the producer in knowing when he may be having a PRRS or influenza flare-up. It also gives useful information to the producers who are purchasing the pigs so they can know ahead of time if there might be specific problems to watch for.

We work with a lot of producers who have this type of weaned pig contract arrangement. It is helpful when the sow farm is actively involved in trying to improve the health of the weaned pigs as well as supplying information to the producer to help him do a better job of managing the pigs once they arrive.

It's important for everyone to be able to survive and make money in these situations and knowing ahead of time what diseases are active is helpful. It also helps with the contract relationship by improving communication and creating a partnership type of relationship.

In the case of this farrow-to-wean producer, the testing program adds approximately $0.12/pig to the cost of production.

As stated, these dollars can be quickly recouped by improving communication between the people involved in the contract as well as potentially heading off clinical losses to a particular disease.


The implementation of specific protocols, the number and type of animals sampled, and the frequency of collections can be discussed with your herd veterinarian. There is no one set protocol for all farms. The important thing is to get a baseline to start monitoring and interpreting the data as it changes from one sampling period to another.

Your veterinarian is an excellent resource to interpret the data and help communicate that information to other people in purchasing or raising those pigs. Gathering and implementing good-quality information can save many dollars, as well as being a central component in helping make the proper decisions to producing pigs as efficiently as possible. Investing in diagnostic dollars now may well pay big dividends later.

50 Years Of Progress

50 events that shaped the U.S. pork industry.


The first edition of National Hog Farmer (Vol. 1, No. 1) was published in February, 1956 in Grundy Center, IA. The eight-page newsletter was the first national paper devoted exclusively to pork producers. On Jan. 15, 2005, National Hog Farmer published Vol. 50, No. 1, marking the beginning of the magazine's 50th Anniversary celebration.


William P. Switzer first isolated Bordetella bronchiseptica from a pig's nasal cavity and suggested that several agents may cause turbinate atrophy associated with atrophic rhinitis.


Actinobacillus pleuropneumonia was first observed by I.H. Patterson. Originally called Haemophilus pleuropneumonia in 1964, the name was changed in 1983, recognizing it is from the actinobaccillus genus.


First National Swine Industry Conference held at Purdue University.


Pseudorabies first acknowledged in the U.S. in early '60s.


State-federal hog cholera eradication program launched in the U.S. Last outbreak occurred in 1976.


Early experimentation with injectable iron dextran by R.B. Talbot led to replacing sow udder swabbing with soluble iron salts to prevent anemia in baby pigs.


Amendment to Packers & Stockyards Act paved the way to start a voluntary pork checkoff.


National Porkettes, a national women's auxiliary, formed; later renamed National Pork Council Women, which merged with the National Pork Producers Council in 1992.


Delegates to the National Swine Growers Council annual meeting, St. Louis, MO, voted to change name to the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).


“Moline 90” meeting held May 25; “Blueprint for Pork” developed as a master strategy to organize pork producers and begin more formal fundraising.


Mycoplasma isolated from pneumonic pig lung by C.J. Mare and W.P. Switzer. Mycoplasmal pneumonia remains one of the most common and economically important diseases in swine.


Chicago Mercantile Exchange began trading live hog contracts.


Producer poll favors checkoff; 800 producers meet in Springfield, IL, endorse market checkoff of 5¢/market hog, 3¢/feeder pig to fund national pork promotion campaign. First voluntary pork checkoff funds collected in six pilot counties in Illinois in 1967; national voluntary pork checkoff, “Nickels for Profit,” launched in 1968.


Rolland “Pig” Paul named first, fulltime executive of National Pork Producers Council, opens headquarters in Des Moines.


USDA adopts new grade standards (U.S. No. 1-4) for pricing slaughter hogs.


First American Pork Congress held, combining the National Pork Producers Council annual meeting with the National Swine Industry Conference.


D.J. Taylor and T.J.L. Alexander successfully propagated a pathogenic anaerobic spirochete to explain the etiology of swine dysentery.


Autosomal recessive inheritance of Porcine Stress Syndrome first proposed by Lauren Christian, who later championed the Halothane screening procedure for identifying stress-susceptible pigs.


Pig Improvement Company (PIC, Inc.) introduced first genetic lines to American market at Spring Green, WI.


Wendell Murphy introduces contract finishing to the pork industry, offering farmers in the Rose Hill, NC, area feed, fences and $1 for every pig taken at 8 weeks old and returned to him for marketing 15 weeks later.


National Association of Swine Testing Stations organized with an objective to standardize swine testing programs; reorganized in 1975 as National Swine Improvement Federation (NSIF); published “Guidelines for Uniform Swine Improvement Programs” in 1976.


Development of new extender for fresh and deep frozen boar semen by Lawrence Johnson and Vernon Pursel at USDA-ARS, Beltsville, MD.


Secretary of Agriculture Bob Bergland declares the United States hog cholera-free on Jan. 31.


National Pork Producers Council court action blocks USDA from banning nitrites as a safe preservation method for pork.


D. L. Harris combined various disease eradication program features with a medicated-early-weaning program to eliminate a wide spectrum of infectious diseases; later refined as the Medicated-Early-Weaning (MEW) and Segregated-Early-Weaning (SEW) programs; Harris introduced Isowean in 1988, a three-site production system using simplified MEW techniques to broaden their application.


National Pork Producers Council drafts legislative initiative, the Pork Promotion, Research and Education Act, to provide for a national, mandatory checkoff program including imported hogs and pork products. The national legislative checkoff program initiated a year later at the rate of 25¢/$100 value of market hog receipts.


“Pork, the Other White Meat” campaign launched.


Mystery Swine Disease first recognized in North Carolina, Minnesota and Iowa herds. Acknowledging the predominant reproductive and respiratory clinical signs results in new term, SIRS (Swine Infertility & Respiratory Syndrome); commonly referred to today as Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS).


First World Pork Expo held at Iowa State Fairgrounds, Des Moines.


Imported Chinese hogs arrive at the Harry S. Truman Import Center in Florida on March 26; 140 boars and gilts placed at the University of Illinois, Iowa State University and the USDA Meat Animal Research Center, Clay Center, NE, led to major gene mapping.


PigChamp 1.1 production recordkeeping system developed and released by the University of Minnesota.


National pseudorabies five-stage eradication program launched with goal to eradicate the disease from all domestic swine in the U.S.


McDonald's introduction of the McRib pork sandwich marks pork's introduction to the fast-food market.


NPPC introduces Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) program, a producer education and management tool emphasizing good management practices and the safe handling and use of animal health products.


First extensive genetic linkage maps for swine published in 1994 and 1995 by USDA and the PiGMAP consortium.


Chicago Mercantile Exchange began trading futures and options on new lean hog contracts.


Results of the NPPC-coordinated National Terminal Sire Line Evaluation Program released.


NPPC introduces Environmental Assurance Program to help pork producers successfully manage their operations in an environmentally conscious way.


Results of the NPPC-coordinated Quality Lean Growth Modeling Project provide extensive information on lean/fat deposition rates, their impact on packer value-based buying programs, pork quality and eating quality measures.


Live hog prices sink to a modern-day record low of $8/cwt. in December.


Drs. Bruce Janke and Young-Jin Yoon, Iowa State University, identified a new subtype of swine influenza virus, SIV H3N2, the first new subtype detected since the disease was discovered in the U.S. in 1918.


Campaign for Family Farms files petition with USDA calling for a national referendum on the mandatory pork checkoff.


Results of the NPPC-coordinated National Genetic Evaluation Maternal Line Program tracked reproductive traits of 3,600 gilts through four parities, and provided a complete evaluation of the genetic value of six commercially available maternal lines.


Smithfield Foods acquires the nation's No. 1 pork production system (Murphy Family Farms, Rose, Hill, NC), joining Carroll's Foods, Inc. (acquired 1999), Brown's of North Carolina and Utah-based Circle Four Farms (acquired 1998) to bring Smithfield's sow total to roughly 840,000 sows. The group formed Murphy-Brown, LLC in 2001.


USDA, the Michigan Pork Producers Association and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) reached an agreement that ensured the continuation of the mandatory pork checkoff and called for a decisive separation of the NPPC and National Pork Board.


The National Pseudorabies Control Board granted Stage V (free) status to Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas, and declared all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands free of pseudorabies (PRV) in commercial swine for the first time in history. If the United States remains free of PRV infection, the target date for declaring the country free of the disease is October 2006.


U.S. pork exports set a new record of 2.2 billion pounds on a carcass weight basis.


On Dec. 8, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments challenging the constitutionality of the mandatory beef checkoff. The justices' decision, expected by June of 2005, will likely determine the fate of the mandatory pork checkoff.


The National Pork Board rolls out a new advertising and marketing campaign designed to extend the value of the highly recognizable “Pork — the Other White Meat” slogan, featuring the tag line: “Don't be blah.”

NPPC Develops Animal ID Map

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has developed an interactive Premises Registration Map for producers to access their state’s Animal Identification and Premises Registration Web site.

“U.S. pork producers can utilize this map to access their state’s official system to register their livestock premises,” explains Harry Snelson, DVM, NPPC’s director of science and technology.

It’s all part of producers voluntarily registering their premises for the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Snelson says: “Premises registration is still voluntary, but NPPC encourages all producers to take action now, as this is the first step toward implementing the tracking system necessary for insuring the health and safety of U.S. livestock.”

Premises registration is available in 45 states, according to USDA’s NAIS Web site, Nearly 57,000 premises have been registered through state premises registration systems.

“NPPC supports the establishment of a national premises registration system for all relevant animal species by 2007,” says Malcolm De Kryger, a DeMotte, IN, pork producer and chairman of NPPC’s Animal Health and Food Security Policy Committee. NPPC supports mandatory livestock identification by 2008.

Producers can link to the Interactive Premises Registration map at

50 Years Of Ups & Downs

The hog cycle is a long-standing phenomenon in the United States market, and the basic precepts of the hog cycle remain in force today.

Hogs are by no means unique in their embodiment of a production cycle, as production of effectively every agricultural commodity is based on decisions made by many individuals and organizations.

However, this structure is changing quite rapidly. Even though there are over 64,000 hog farms in the United States, about 60% of the hogs are produced by 156 firms. This concentration is expected to continue and is likely to change future hog cycles.

Almost all agricultural products follow the same reasonable, predictable pattern of increases in aggregate production when prices are good, leading to price declines, resulting in production cutbacks and increases in prices.

The response of an industry composed of thousands of producers to the signals of the market can never be precise or entirely timely; but, in the long run, changes are made so that supply approximates anticipated demand.

It is the nature of the hog cycle that supply and demand will be out of sync for certain periods of time. Consequently, prices are always changing. Pork producers must be able to live with uncertainty and risk. They are constantly reminded that prices and profit are not directly determining their individual actions but, ultimately, are set by forces beyond their control.

Pork producers are aware that some periods of losses are to be expected because the profitable periods will, they hope, more than compensate for those losses in the longer term.

Production vs. Price Cycles

The U.S. pork production cycle in Figure 1 shows commercial pork production for the last 50 years. The price cycle is a consequence of the changes in pork production and is shown in Figure 2.

We have had about 12 production and price cycles in the past 50 years. In the '70s, production cycles showed quite wide fluctuations, which were precipitated by big changes in feed prices caused by drought and world trade as well as an inflationary increase in hog prices (Fig. 2).

In the years, before the mid '90s, price flexibility — the percent of price change divided by the percent of production change — was about -2. Note the fluctuation in supply and prices in Figures 1 and 2 before the mid '90s. In the past decade, the price flexibility has averaged between -5 and -6.

For some reason, the demand for live hogs has become more inelastic. A 1% change in production has created a larger change in price.

Note the changes in production in the last 10 years have been quite small with the exception of two years (Fig. 1). But the changes in the prices of live hogs since the mid-'90s have been larger than in previous years (Fig. 2).

In fact, the last two years' increase in prices occurred even though production increased. The upward leg on the current price cycle is due to a growth in live hogs. This demand growth is due to strong pork and low-carb diets.

The price cycle appears to be alive and well, but the future of the production cycle is less clear. We will probably continue to have some fluctuations in supply (fluctuations need to be kept quite small due to the more inelastic demand), but whether they will continue the regular four-year cycle is yet to be determined.

Antibiotic Ban Opposed

Attempts to recall and ban the use of antibiotics in livestock feed are not supported by U.S. pork producers, says National Pork Producers Council Animal Health and Food Security Policy Chairman Malcolm De Kryger.

“These efforts would override a strict, science-based regulatory process currently in effect at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA),” adds De Kryger. “We stand behind the rigorous FDA process that ensures the safety and usefulness of antibiotics to protect the health of U.S. livestock.”

Pork producers are concerned access to antibiotics could become restricted. Five medical and environmental groups filed a petition with FDA to withdraw approvals for seven classes of antibiotics used as livestock feed additives.

The petition suggests that use of the feed additives fails to comply with the safety criteria in FDA’s guidance on agricultural antibiotics (Guidance No. 152). The FDA document says that a ban on antibiotic use should be based on a risk assessment that weighs risks and benefits to animal and human health.

NPPC is also worried that legislation could block development of new drugs to deal with emerging animal diseases. Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sponsor the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2005.

“Without access to antibiotics, a swine herd could potentially be wiped out by disease, which could in turn spread to other farms,” observes Harry Snelson, DVM, NPPC director of science and technology. “A peer-reviewed study published by a panel of human and veterinary experts in 2004, finds little evidence that antibiotic use in animals has a significant impact on human health.”