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Articles from 2013 In May

It’s Time for World Pork Expo!

Come visit the National Hog Farmer booth at World Pork Expo

Excitement is building among the National Hog Farmer staff as we start packing up our trade show booth, notebooks, cameras and matching shirts in preparation for the 2013 World Pork Expo. We’re all traveling to Des Moines June 5-7 for the world’s largest pork industry-specific trade show! Once again, National Hog Farmer’s booth will be number 623 in the Varied Industries Building on the Iowa State Fairgrounds. Stop by for a visit and take a look at a display featuring information about the newest products and technologies introduced to the pork industry within the last year. The products are in the spotlight as part of the World Pork Expo New Product Tour.

You may not have realized that 2013 is World Pork Expo’s 25th anniversary year. National Hog Farmer Editor Dale Miller provides some interesting thoughts about the event’s history in his recent editorial, “Expo Rocks for 25 Years.”

According to the National Pork Producers Council, nearly 20,000 pork producers and industry professionals from 38 countries attended World Pork Expo in 2012, and organizers expect a similar showing this year.

The 2012 event set records for the number of pigs in the Junior National show with 700 juniors from 26 states exhibiting 2,177 hogs. If you need help remembering some of the highlights from last year’s Expo, visit our “Pigs and Their People” photo gallery. We’ve also put together a photo gallery of pictures of some of the delicious pork that was offered to last year’s attendees in our “It’s All About the Pork at World Pork Expo” photo gallery. You can even see pictures of the one-time event showcasing the world’s largest pork burger. Much like last year, attendees to the 2013 World Pork Expo can head to the Big Grill each day to enjoy a free pork lunch. Last year, the grill masters served a record-setting 10,000 meals.


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World Pork Expo attendees will find the latest pork-production technologies, products and services on display this year, offered  by more than 400 U.S. and international commercial exhibitors. The trade show is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 5, and Thursday, June 6, and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, June 7. According to event organizers, this year’s Expo will debut an additional trade-show location — the Agriculture Building, which is located next to the main entry gate and the Big Grill.

Make sure you also take advantage of the free business seminars taking place throughout the day on both Wednesday and Thursday. Seminar topics are designed to provide solutions for on-farm production needs, including marketing options, herd-health protocols, feeding strategies and current issues

Don’t forget to enjoy MusicFest, a social highlight on Thursday afternoon where Expo attendees can relax, enjoy roast pork and refreshments, and listen to live music.

What’s your favorite thing to do at World Pork Expo? Share your thoughts in the “Comments” section below, email, or stop by our booth to tell us in person next week! We are looking forward to seeing you there, but if you can’t attend in-person, check out our Web site to see pictures and updates from the show throughout the week at   Learn more World Pork Expo details at

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World Pork Expo Celebrates 25th Anniversary This Week

Nearly 20,000 pork producers and industry representatives from 39 countries will be in Des Moines, IA, June 5-7, for the 2013 World Pork Expo. Presented by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and held at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, it is the world’s largest, pork-specific trade show with more than 400 commercial exhibits. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, World Pork Expo will feature 310,000 sq. ft. of exhibits, which is an increase from 2012.

“If you’re looking for products, technology or information, World Pork Expo is the best place to spend your time,” says Randy Spronk, NPPC president and pork producer from Edgerton, MN. “The heart of Expo is the personal interaction — producer to producer, and with NPPC leaders and company representatives. The most valuable part is those unexpected conversations.”

Between the business seminars and PORK Academy, World Pork Expo always offers the latest information that busy pork producers, their employees and their families need to run responsible and efficient businesses. On Wednesday, June 5, and Thursday, June 6, 20 educational presentations will take place in the Varied Industries Building. Both days include a free business-seminar luncheon featuring experts discussing economic and weather outlooks.

“We have a wide variety of seminars lined up, from nutrition and feed to manure management and food safety,” says Alicia Irlbeck, World Pork Expo general manager. “These free educational presentations are an ideal way for pork producers to learn more about the latest trends and developments affecting their markets and their product.”

Continuing its upward trajectory, the World Pork Expo Junior National has set another record this year, with 856 junior exhibitors from throughout nation entering more than 2,500 pigs. The 2012 show set a record when youths showed 2,177 hogs — a 25% increase from the previous year. The Junior National shows and judging competitions take place each day of Expo. The open show, with almost 1,000 hogs entered by 493 exhibitors, will be held on Friday, June 7, with a sale on Saturday, June 8.

New this year is the addition of the Agriculture Building to the exhibit space, which will feature the International Visitors Center and the America’s Best Genetics display, as well as a display of World Pork Expo memorabilia from the past 25 years.

“Attendees should stop by the Agriculture Building and vote for their favorite display,” Irlbeck says. “To celebrate World Pork Expo’s 25th anniversary, NPPC is giving away a trip for two to a location of the winner’s choice for up to a $3,000 value. All Expo attendees are eligible and can sign up in booth 2708.”

Next door to the Agriculture Building is the ever-popular Big Grill, where attendees can enjoy a free pork lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. all three days of Expo.

While Expo’s days are filled with lots of business activities and information, there’s also time to relax and enjoy an evening of fun and fellowship. MusicFest will take place on Thursday, starting at 4:30 p.m. It will feature Grammy-nominated Little Texas, who also is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, as well as Transit Authority, the premier tribute band to the music group Chicago. 

“If you haven’t been to World Pork Expo before or haven’t been there for a few years, you’re going to be truly impressed with the quality of products, producers and information,” Spronk says. “Grab a friend, grab a fellow pork producer and head over to Expo. Where else can you go to gain the information you need for your pork-production business and have some fun at the same time?”

Admission price at the gate is $15 per adult and $3 for youths aged 6 to 11; there is no charge for children 5 years of age and younger. This price of admission includes entry into Expo for all three days. Proceeds from World Pork Expo are used to develop and defend export markets, fight for reasonable legislation and regulation, and inform and educate legislators.

For regular updates, connect with World Pork Expo on Facebook, follow World Pork Expo on Twitter (NPPCWPX) or download the official app by searching for “World Pork” in your favorite app store.

World Pork Expo, the world's largest, pork-specific trade show, is brought to you by NPPC. On behalf of its members, NPPC develops and defends export markets, fights for reasonable legislation and regulation, and informs and educates legislators. For more information, visit





Full Impact of Smithfield Merger Unknown

Full Impact of Smithfield Merger Unknown

The full impact on the U.S. pork industry of a merger between Smithfield Foods – the world's largest pork producer – and Chinese firm Shuanghui are not yet known, Purdue Extension agricultural economist Chris Hurt says.

If approved, the merger could provide new market opportunities for U.S. hog producers and also offer Shuanghui the opportunity to adopt Smithfield's health, sanitation and environmental standards.

“The largest potential advantage for the U.S. pork industry is that Shuanghui is the largest processor and distributor of meat products in China,” Hurt says. “China is the largest producer and consumer of pork. At this early stage, it is unclear if this merger will result in more U.S. pork products being exported to China. However, this clearly opens the trade door for increased business to China, which already was the third-largest destination for U.S. pork in 2012.”


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But the merger isn't without risks, he says. Large corporations can sometimes fail to adapt to quickly changing global markets. It also brings up concerns among U.S. producers and consumers about the loss of U.S. ownership and what that means for U.S. control.

Another concern, Hurt says, is that while the United States and China are trading partners, the countries have very different social and political policies, which could play into whether the merger can be finalized.

The merger still must run through approval channels in both nations. If approved, the transaction likely would take place later this year.

Growing incomes and demand have resulted in a Chinese pork market with a 3% annual growth rate. The U.S. market, on the other hand, is stagnant, meaning Americans will consume the same amount of pork in 2013 as they did in 2005.

“The mature U.S. consumer market for pork means the industry must turn elsewhere if it wants to grow,” Hurt says.

In recent years, the Chinese government has made food availability a top priority. While the country mostly had followed a self-sufficient model by meeting pork demand with increased domestic production, Hurt says they also have shown a willingness to import pork products when the internal supply couldn't meet demand. China likely sees Smithfield as an added way to source an important food for its consumers.

“Even tiny changes that shift in the direction of importing more pork could have positive impacts for U.S. producers because China is such a huge market,” he says.

The Chinese also stand to benefit from the merger because of the country's problems with food safety and sanitation. The U.S. pork industry has a longstanding reputation for food safety, sanitation and environmental integrity.

While some in the U.S. pork industry have argued that regulations have added to production costs, Hurt says this might be a case where those lofty standards have helped create higher Chinese demand and prices for pork exports.

Smithfield Foods also offers Shuanghui an established global pork production and distribution system. Smithfield currently produces and distributes pork in North America, South America and Europe.

“While the outcomes are uncertain, the hopes are that the Smithfield Foods merger can be a new model for meat production and processing in a world increasingly dominated by global sourcing and distribution,” Hurt says.

“If so, the merged organization has the potential to grow and hopefully favor the U.S. industry,” he notes.

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What to Do About Corn Planting?

Illinois blogger Stu Ellis ( says it’s time to think about your corn planting options.

“You are not finished planting corn. Your fields are saturated. Rain is coming in torrents. More rain is in the forecast. You know the final planting date for crop insurance is (past) (in a few days). You may have already lost 10-15% of your potential yield. What is the first thing you do?

Number 1: Call your crop insurance agent.

Number 2:While waiting for him/her to return your call, read the following summary of Prevented Planting. It is condensed from an analysis by University of Illinois economist Gary Schnitkey.

First of all, check your policy for your prevented planting date. It will vary by state and will even vary within a state. And check your type of policy. Some county group policies do not have a prevented planting provision. If you have Revenue Protection or Yield Protection, pass Go and collect your money (if that is what you want.)

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Your prevented planting benefits will cover the amount of acreage reflected by the average of your last four years for that particular crop. Since there are some asterisks, consult your agent for your exact acreage.

When your final planting date arrives, your menu of choices includes:

Taking a Prevented Planting payment, which totals 60% of your guaranteed payment. That guarantee is calculated from your coverage level for Revenue Protection or Yield Protection multiplied by the spring price guarantee of $5.65 and multiplied by your actual production history (APH) yield. Then multiply that by 60%. Do you want to accept that amount, pay your input costs and manage the weeds in that field for the rest of the year?

A sub-choice is planting another crop within 25 days of the final corn planting date. If you do that, you will not collect any payment for prevented planting.

Another sub-choice is waiting 25 more days and planting another crop, but that will cut your prevented planting payment from 60% down to 35%.


1. You can plant corn after the final planting date,which is allowed by the provisions for prevented planting. If during that 25-day period corn is planted, you will not receive any payment for prevented planting. It is gone. However, you may still have a reduced level of crop insurance coverage on the late-planted crop. Your coverage is reduced by 1% per day until the field is planted, and if you are planting more than 25 days after the final planting date, your coverage will be set at 60% and remain at that level.

2. You can plant soybeans in that field after the final date for planting corn. By doing that, you sacrifice your payment for prevented corn planting, but you will have crop insurance coverage for your soybeans, unless they are planted after their final planting date. And the coverage guarantee is reduced with the same formula as with corn. However, if this is your choice, before you put the first soybean in the ground, alert your crop insurance agent because he/she will have to change your policy from corn to soybeans.

Miscellaneous Points

  • Work through the math to get a close idea of what your payment will be for prevented planting, as well as reductions for your coverage of a late-planted corn crop if you plant after the final planting date.
  • Think back to when you signed up for crop insurance to remember if you paid extra for a higher level of coverage for prevented planting. You might be paying a higher premium for 75% coverage, instead of just 60%.
  • If you are concerned about the 60% not covering your input costs, calculate your updated input costs, which will mean reduced machinery, fuel and drying costs, and whatever herbicide, fertilizer and seed you don’t use. While gross revenue will be reduced, so will gross expense outlays.
  • If you have planted just part of an insurable unit, prevented planting will only affect the unplanted portion, as long as it is more than 20% of the unit and not less than 20 acres.
  • If you have planted just part of an insurable unit, which is covered by an enterprise policy, the minimum acreage provisions must be in two separate sections. Without that, the enterprise policy is not in effect and the policy will revert to optional or basic units.
  • Your APH will not be impacted unless a second crop is planted on the acreage that was claimed as prevented planting



Many Corn Belt farmers have either hit or soon will hit the final planting date for corn and will make a decision on prevented planting. It is an option for management of the 2013 crop and operational revenue. However, there are many implications, and consultation with a crop insurance agent should be a priority.”

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National Pork Board to Meet at World Pork Expo


The National Pork Board will meet Tuesday, June 4 in Des Moines, IA, to elect new officers and to hear checkoff-funded program updates.

National Pork Board President Conley Nelson, a pork producer from Algona, IA, will complete his one-year term as president at the meeting. As past president, he will remain on the board's executive committee for one year. Other members of the executive committee are Vice President Karen Richter of Montgomery, MN, and Treasurer Dale Norton of Bronson, MI. The board will elect a new president, vice president and treasurer from among its members.

Also in attendance at the board meeting will be members recently appointed by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.  The appointments include three producers new to the board who will each serve a three-year term. The newly appointed members are Janet Archer, Goldsboro, NC; Terrance O'Neel, Friend, NE; and Michael Wyant, Nevada, MO. Also appointed by Vilsack were two returning board members; Derrick Sleezer, Cherokee, IA; and Wathina Luthi, Gage, OK.

The agenda for the board includes a domestic marketing update, 2014 strategic planning recommendations and updates on the Pork Quality Assurance Plus revisions.

Meetings of the National Pork Board are open to the public. Those wishing to attend are asked to contact Lorraine Garner,, (515) 223-2600.




Evaluating the Sale of Smithfield Foods to China

Evaluating the Sale of Smithfield Foods to China

The major announcement Wednesday of the purchase of Smithfield Foods by the Chinese meat processing firm Shuanghui Holdings was reviewed by Daily Livestock Report ( in today’s edition.

Authors Steve Meyer and Len Steiner report that several sources suggest that the value of this transaction makes this the largest Chinese purchase of a U.S. company to date.

Chinese officials of Shuanghui say they intend to leave Smithfield’s management team in place and have no plans to make changes in Smithfield’s operations. Smithfield CEO Larry Pope says the company would not close any facilities and will leave all employee agreements in place.

Smithfield currently boasts roughly a 26% share of U.S. hog slaughter capacity and a 16% share of the U.S. sow herd, the report indicates. This represents just 1.7% of the Chinese sow herd and 3% of China’s 2012 hog slaughter.


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Meyer and Steiner indicate that despite the outcry by small farm advocates and some legislators, the purchase does not change the structure of the U.S. pork industry and should have no impact on the competitive landscape.

They don’t expect that U.S. antitrust laws should come into play in any review of the transaction.

Concerns about potentially transferring U.S. technology to China are also unfounded. “U.S. firms have been actively working with Chinese companies for years and, again, raising and processing pigs probably doesn’t involve much spying or missile technology,” the authors suggest.

On the plus side, the merger will probably enhance U.S. pork exports to China. “It just makes sense that owning a U.S. company will make things smoother for shipments – at least from that company.” The merger will also encourage other U.S. firms to develop closer ties with China, further increasing U.S. exports.

The merger is expected to only boost U.S. hog prices in the short term if U.S. pork exports do in fact grow.

Smithfield’s vertical integration back into production means the system can meet China’s ractopamine-free demands more easily than can non-integrated system.


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Adjust DDGS in Diets to Make Better Bacon

Adjust fat quality when feeding DDGS to get better bacon

If pork producers want firmer pork and better bacon, they would be wise to adjust pig diets when including distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), according to a recent paper published in the Journal of Animal Science.

Some producers believe that feeding pigs saturated fats will undo the fat-softening effects of DDGS. Firmer fat means longer-lasting pork.

But researchers from the University of Illinois found that including saturated fats in DDGS diets makes no difference in fat quality.

The researchers formulated six corn-soybean meal diets to test the effects of saturated fat additives on carcass fat quality in pigs. Five of these diets contained DDGS.

According to the researchers, pork produced from pigs fed DDGS have reduced shelf life and increased susceptibility to oxidative damage. Oxidative damage affects texture, color, juiciness and the overall flavor of pork products.

“Distiller’s dried grains contain unsaturated fatty acids and those fatty acids are deposited into the fat of the animal,” says Hans-Henrik Stein, study co-author and Department of Animal Science professor at the University of Illinois.

“From a health standpoint, that’s a good thing, but it can be a problem when producing pork products like bacon.”


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According to Stein, high levels of unsaturated fats make pork belly fat too soft to slice for bacon. To counteract this problem, producers have included saturated fats such as corn germ, beef tallow, palm kernel oil and glycerol in diets containing DDGS in order to make the fat firmer.

For this study, corn germ, beef tallow, palm kernel oil and glycerol were each added to a diet containing DDGS. The researchers compared the performance of pigs fed each of these diets to the performance of pigs fed a diet containing DDGS with no saturated fats added and a control diet containing corn-soybean meal but no DDGS.

Firmness of fat was tested by measuring the distance of “belly flop.” This was done by draping the belly of the carcasses over a metal rod with the skin facing down. Ten centimeters below the rod, distance was measured between the two sides. The larger the distance was, the firmer the fat.

The researchers found that pigs fed the control diet containing no DDGS had greater belly flop distances than the pigs fed the other diets. There was no difference among the pigs fed the five diets containing DDGS.

This led researchers to conclude that adding saturated fats to diets containing DDGS has no effect on the fat quality of pigs.

Stein suggests that producers feeding high levels of DDGS reduce the amount fed in the last three to four weeks before harvest to avoid the softening of fat.

This paper is titled “Carcass fat quality of pigs is not improved by adding corn germ, beef tallow, palm kernal oil, or glycerol to finishing diets containing distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS).” It can be read in full at

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Iowa Senator Raises Competitiveness Concerns Over Smithfield Buyout by Chinese Firm

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), who has led efforts in Congress to keep agricultural markets competitive for market participants and consumers, has released a statement regarding the announcement that Smithfield Foods would be purchased by Shuanghui International. The deal needs to be reviewed by the Department of Justice and the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS).

“I share the concerns of many family farmers and independent producers that the agriculture industry has consolidated to the point where many smaller market participants do not have equal access to fair and competitive markets.  Today’s announcement by Smithfield and Shuanghui do not alleviate those concerns.  In fact, the two companies pointed out in their statements that the vertical integration employed by Smithfield was a major attribute to the acquisition.


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“The fact of the matter is that vertical integration leaves the independent producer with even fewer choices of who to buy from and sell to and hurts a farmer’s ability to get a fair price for his products.  Concentration also leads to consumers having fewer choices and higher costs at the grocery store.  The Justice Department should take a close look at this agreement.

“There are also a number of points that CFIUS must consider as it analyzes this deal.  No one can deny the unsafe tactics used by some Chinese food companies.  And, to have a Chinese food company controlling a major U.S. meat supplier, without shareholder accountability, is a bit concerning.   I’ve always said that we are nine meals away from a revolution, so a safe and sustainable food supply is critical to national security.  That’s why CFIUS’s scrutiny of this acquisition is vitally important.  How might this deal impact our national security?  What role does the Chinese government play in Shuanghui, like it does so many other ‘private’ companies?  These are important questions for CFIUS to get answered.

“The Smithfield-Shuanghui deal also highlights the need for country-of-origin labeling.  Like so many Americans, I would rather eat pork, beef and poultry raised in the United States.  The deal only makes it more logical to ensure that American consumers know exactly what they are paying for and eating.”

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Phibro Provides Student Funding for Swine Center


Phibro Animal Health Corporation (Phibro) has donated a gift for a new Swine Medicine Education Center (SMEC) Student Support Fund of $5,000 annually that will provide financial assistance to offset costs visiting veterinary students from across the nation incur while participating in swine veterinary rotations at SMEC.

SMEC is a joint collaboration between Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Audubon-Manning Veterinary Clinic in Audubon, IA. Many veterinary students have limited access to on-farm, clinical swine medicine training at their home institutions. SMEC provides veterinary students, and also practicing veterinarians, from across the United States and around the world with extensive hands-on experiences and education in swine health and production.

“Phibro Animal Health Corporation is committed to educating young veterinarians with a future in the swine production industry,” says Douglas Weiss, DVM, technical services manager at Phibro Animal Health. “We need these interested young people with the strengths and skill that training at SMEC provides to raise our industry to the next level. This partnership with Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine creates more opportunities for better knowledge that in the end, increases human health with increased food safety.”

The first recipients of the SMEC Student Support Fund award were announced at SMEC during the Swine Production Management and Consultation Course earlier this spring:


  • Emily Kuntz of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine;
  • Josh Barker of Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine.


“We appreciate the support of Phibro Animal Health’s gift to the SMEC Student Support Fund,” says Locke Karriker, DVM, director of SMEC and associate professor of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine. “This funding is critical so that students from across the nation and world are able to attend SMEC swine courses. The students still have a tangible investment in their education, but this student support fund makes the training at SMEC more accessible to them. We hope that Phibro’s leadership has set a precedent that will be appealing to other stakeholders in swine medicine as SMEC grows.”




Iowa Updates Nutrient Reduction Strategy

Iowa Updates Nutrient Reduction Strategy

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Iowa State University announced this week that the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy has been completed and is available at, according to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA).


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The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is a science- and technology-based approach to assess and reduce nutrients delivered to Iowa waterways and the Gulf of Mexico. The strategy is designed to direct efforts to reduce nutrients in surface water from both point sources, such as wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities, and nonpoint sources, including farm fields and urban areas, in a scientific, reasonable and cost effective manner.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) worked with Iowa State University over a two-year period to develop a draft strategy that was released for public comment period on Nov. 19, 2012. Comments were received from Nov. 19, 2012 to Jan. 18, 2013. Four public meetings were held to educate the public about the draft strategy.

“We are appreciative of the huge interest in the draft strategy and we believe we have a stronger document due to the public comments we received. The intent of this strategy is to provide a comprehensive and integrated approach addressing both point and nonpoint sources of nutrients in a practical and scientific way,” says Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey.

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