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Carthage Veterinary Service As a partner and veterinarian with Carthage Veterinary Service, Clayton Johnson currently oversees 25,000 sows across seven different sow farms. He also has numerous international consulting duties.
As a partner and veterinarian with Carthage Veterinary Service, Clayton Johnson currently oversees 25,000 sows across seven different sow farms. He also has numerous international consulting duties.

Clayton Johnson comes by veterinary medicine quite honestly. From the time he was old enough to process pigs and work calves, he was helping his father make calls across west-central Illinois.

“All I have ever known is my dad being a veterinarian,” Johnson says of his father, who has been in mixed practice for 41 years.

The 38-year-old says it wasn’t until junior high, when he started working on local pig farms, that he decided swine was the specific species he wanted to explore further.

“The swine industry is such a small, tight-knit group, and I had been exposed to so many would-be ‘superstars’ in our industry at a young age through my dad,” Johnson says.

“I had such a niche there already built, it was really hard to justify starting that all over when I could really go and build on what I had.”

Jim Lowe, Larry Firkins, John Waddell, Steve Quick and Ken and Dave Maschhoff are just a few of those superstars who influenced Johnson during his early veterinary studies.

Right out of veterinary school at the University of Illinois, Johnson secured a full-time position with The Maschhoffs, an experience he says was a “wonderful eight years” and one he will never be able to repay them for. 

“The Maschhoffs never chastised me for making honest mistakes. They always encouraged me as long as I learned from them,” Johnson says. “They put so much time and effort into developing me as a veterinarian, but also grounding me in practical business and financial realities.”

When the opportunity arose to move closer to home and join Carthage Veterinary Service three years ago, Johnson knew private practice was his next step. Joining Carthage as director of health and moving to his current role, partner and veterinarian, Johnson currently oversees 25,000 sows across seven different sow farms. He also has  numerous international consulting duties.

He recognizes he’s chosen a turbulent industry for his profession, but it’s something he thrives on.

“That’s always been a culture of change that I’m happy to engage in,” Johnson says. “Like ASF [African swine fever], Chinese pork is showing up on our shores at a shocking frequency. Let’s focus on the things we can control, and ‘What are the things we can prevent to mitigate the threat?’ ”

Johnson says it’s hard to predict the next five to 20 years, because the industry will need to make some hard decisions in America, in terms of, “Are we going to feed the world, or just feed affluent America?”

He also believes the U.S. will eventually have to deal with every disease present sooner or later. However, the veterinarian says the U.S. is fortunate to have the best diagnostic laboratories, researchers, pharmaceutical companies, veterinarians, nutritionists and geneticists.

“Veterinarian-wise, we are going to have to sharpen our saw when it comes to things we don’t worry about today,” Johnson says.

“The rest of the world is absolutely dependent upon us to improve disease control. Other countries know the faster we get involved, the faster everybody gets an efficacious vaccination, the faster everyone gets better diagnostics and better management.”

Swine’s Promising Next Generation is independently produced by National Hog Farmer and brought to you through the support of Boehringer Ingelheim.

Illinois Pork Producers Association awards nine student scholarships

djmilic/ThinkstockPhotos Graduation cap on stack of dollar bills.

The Illinois Pork Producers Association is proud to offer nine scholarships for the 2019-2020 school year, totaling $13,500.

“It gives us pride, as an association, to provide these scholarships and see the recipients become an active part of the industry,” says Alan Kollmann, chair of the IPPA Youth Committee. This committee is responsible for youth activities that IPPA conducts throughout the year, such as IPLI, county ambassadors and scholarships.

Each year, IPPA offers scholarships to students pursuing a higher education degree, at a two or four-year institution, who have an interest in the pork industry. Recipients are selected based on activities, IPPA involvement and an essay explaining the potential impact of a foreign animal disease on the United States.

  • Gold level recipients, who are receiving a $2,000 award are: Kacie Haag of Emington; Seth Mitchell of Olney; and Jaidyn Miller of Sheffield.
  • Silver level recipients, who are receiving a $1,500 award, are: Colin Stark of Pontiac; Lauren Curry of Alpha; and Jordynn Marcum of Gibson City.
  • Bronze level recipients, who are receiving a $1,000 award, are: Blake Dixon of Watseka; Matthew Engnell of Andover; and Zachary Perkins of Millbrook.

Funding for these scholarships is made possible through the Wilbert & Carol Keppy Foundation.

“These recipients excel in advocating for agriculture, especially the pork industry,” says Jenny Jackson, director of Communications for IPPA. “They are a great representation of our association and have bright futures ahead of them.”

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



MORNING Midwest Digest, May 29, 2019

Several states are passing abortion legislation.

Markets are springing into action, as traders find planting progress is worse than expected. 

Tornado reports are becoming too numerous to mention across the heartland. Weather forecasters have logged more than 500 tornados in a 30-day period.

Bass fishing has started in Minnesota. A DNR spokesman says bass tournaments are getting "balistic."

In Missouri, a bear found its way into a church. 


Photo: monsitj/Getty Images


Farm Progress America, May 29, 2019

Max Armstrong looks ahead at June Dairy Month that starts Saturday. Max shares that the observance of this milk-promoting program comes under the cloud of a weakened dairy industry. A recent hearing in Washington, D.C., looked at the dairy crisis. The Census of Agriculture shows that 10,000 dairies gone out of business since the last Census, and more have failed since. Yet as dairies fail, milk supplies continues to expand.

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

Photo: SW_photo/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Pork Masters are above par

Logo for the 2019 Masters of the Pork Industry

It seems like the world stops one weekend every April as 90 to 100 of the top golfers take to Augusta National Golf Club in the city of Augusta, Ga., as the best golfers vie for millions in prize money and a prestigious green jacket.

I have tried my hand at golfing, with little success or fanfare. My achievements on the links may be part of the reason that I do not find the lure of watching golf on TV. To me, golf is a nice way to spend a day with the buddies while walking (or driving) a beautifully manicured yard that just happens to have 18 holes. But to spend an April weekend watching other people walk a beautifully manicured yard? Well, I can think of a lot of better things to do.

Every year, about a month after the golf world focuses its eyes on The Masters tournament, National Hog Farmer focuses in on a set of different Masters — the Masters of the Pork Industry.

Hopefully by now you have met the 2019 class of Masters: Wakefield Pork Inc., Scott Dee, Hog Slat Inc., Steve Quick and John Patience, either through their stories online, in the magazine or in the online slideshow.

Unlike that annual golf tournament, there are numerous National Hog Farmer’s Masters named each year to represent producers, veterinarians, academia and allied industry. This year’s class doubled up on producers with the Langhorst Family behind Wakefield Pork Inc. and Steve Quick with The Maschhoffs.

The winner of the Masters golf tournament has to play great golf over a four-day period. Masters of the Pork Industry have to be on the top of their game day-in, day-out, 365 days a year, and for years upon years. There are no days off in U.S. swine production.

Golf courses have sand traps and water hazards, but the participants know what they’re up against on the course. Some hazards Pork Masters face are visible, while far too many others can pop up with little or no warning. Everything is going along swimmingly, and then bam! Strep suis hits the herd.

Many external forces working against Pork Masters are brought on by others: can you say retaliatory tariffs?

Regardless the hazards that exist or crop up, this year’s class of the Masters of the Pork Industry continue with their passion. Though professional golfers have chances to make a lot of money playing a game, Pork Masters work in a noble profession to help feed the world.

This year’s chosen Masters do share some similarities with those who vie for the green jacket in Augusta.

Go with your strengths: Every golfer has a strong part of their game, and they seek help from others to improve where their game lacks. Steve, Mary and Lincoln Langhorst of Wakefield Pork Inc. know that the caretakers in the system’s barns are good at caring for pigs. The company’s core competency will continue to be top pig care, while aligning the company with feed mills and trucking companies that are very good at what they do.

Don’t stop challenging yourself: A complacent golfer will never reach their full potential if they settle with a talent plateau. At various times throughout veterinarian Scott Dee’s career he has found himself with an itch, an itch that needed to be scratched. That itch to discover answers to some of the swine industry’s intriguing questions has led to many hog facilities now being filtered to reduce viral loads from airborne pathogens, and now looking at mitigation of virus risk in assorted feedstuffs.

Prove naysayers wrong: A lot of pro athletes, golfers included, have been told somewhere along the line that they can’t do something, that they’ll never make it. But they have the drive to prove people wrong. Billy Herring went against the trend when Hog Slat Inc. announced they were going to start manufacturing gang slats, rather than the single slats common in the industry in the early 1970s. The Herring family has done quite well for themselves from building gang slats and a number of other products for hog production, as well as producing hogs.

No quitting: If you want to be at the top of your game, you more than likely will have to put in extra practice. Same goes for pork production. If you want to have a top producing, healthy herd, you will have to put in the extra work to make sure the herd is cared for. Steve Quick with The Maschhoffs has been called “stockman,” knowing a time clock doesn’t indicate when it’s quitting time. When the work is done is when it’s time to call it a day, or a night as often is the case.

A little luck helps: Even when a golfer is at the top of his or her game, they won’t refuse the helps of a little luck. Iowa State University’s John Patience admits that he has benefited from luck many times in his career as a renowned swine nutritionist.

Masters champion are simply humans who happen to be very good at playing a game, and who don’t get frustrated chasing around a little white ball. Masters of the Pork Industry are also merely humans, but we are fortunate that they have become very good at what they do whether it’s caring for pigs, searching for answers to health issues, building better hog equipment or finding the secret to a better diet.

Our Masters don’t wear green jackets; they wear the swine industry on their sleeves.

OIE launches global initiative to control African swine fever

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

Due to the recent upsurge in the spread of African swine fever throughout several regions of the world, the World Organization for Animal Health has called for the establishment of a global initiative to control the disease, in hope of eradicating it entirely, and to reduce its devastating economic impacts on the pork industry. The initiative will be coordinated by the OIE and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

During the 87th OIE General Session this week in Paris a report on the global ASF situation was presented to the Assembly. Throughout the second semester of 2018, 25 countries across Europe, Africa and Asia informed the OIE of outbreaks of ASF in their territories.

Given the gravity of the situation with no vaccine against the disease, and following the request of its Member Countries, the OIE is launching the global initiative for the control of ASF. It will use the GF-TADs (Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases) mechanism to develop, improve and harmonize partnerships and coordination at national, regional and international levels. The objective is to control the disease, strengthen countries’ prevention and preparation efforts, and minimize the adverse effects on animal health, animal welfare and international trade.

Launched in 2004 by the OIE and FAO, GF-TADs aims to prevent, detect and control transboundary animal diseases, taking into account their regional dimensions. In Europe, regional groups of ASF experts have been in existence under the umbrella of this platform since 2014, and groups have recently been set up in Asia and the Americas.

In the upcoming months, the OIE will establish a work program in collaboration with FAO, taking into consideration the regional initiatives that already exist.

In addition to the harmonized approach between countries, OIE says the transparency of new and evolving outbreaks is essential to a good understanding of the epidemiology of the disease and to its control and prevention. The OIE has reminded all its Member Countries of the importance of reporting the disease via the World Animal Health Information System, as this builds a complete picture of the disease situation. Between April 26 and May 9, 2019, 1,322 outbreaks were ongoing and 157 new notifications of ASF were sent to the OIE via this platform.

Given the global socioeconomic repercussions of ASF, controlling the disease is a high priority for both affected countries and those free of the disease. It is for this reason that that the OIE calls on its Member Countries to ensure that they implement its standards and practices for the effective control of ASF, notably through the implementation of:

  • Programs for prevention, early detection and intervention, and compensation policies
  • Biosecurity measures
  • Pig traceability and movement controls
  • Effective official monitoring
  • Management of wild pig populations
  • Slaughter of animals in accordance with animal welfare rules, and the safe disposal of contaminated animal products
  • Improvement in collaboration between stakeholders and between countries
  • Programs of ongoing training and awareness raising

Because of its complex epidemiology, it isn’t possible to control ASF without a coordinated response from the different sectors involved. In addition to Veterinary Services, this includes customs and border control authorities, the pork production industry, universities, forestry management bodies, hunters’ associations, tourist organizations and animal transport organizations. OIE says clear and transparent communication is essential if all these actors are to fully understand their roles and responsibilities in the implementation of the measures required.

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

Foreign animal diseases to look out for besides ASF

National Hog Farmer Foreboding clouds over hog barn with stop sign on post

By Attila Farkas, DVM, Carthage Veterinary Service
African swine fever is getting a lot of coverage in the media as outbreaks continue to occur across Asia and the European Union, while other foreign animal diseases are getting less “publicity” even though the introduction of these infectious agents would have similar economic effects and cripple the U.S. pork industry and exports. In modern day swine production, free trade agreements, free trade blocks, regionalization, increased international passenger travel and the constant evolution of infectious agents are among the factors affecting foreign animal disease prevention, control, management and recovery.

Classical swine fever is a highly contagious viral disease of swine that occurs in an acute, subacute and chronic form. In the acute form, the disease is characterized by high fever, severe depression, multiple superficial and internal hemorrhages, and high morbidity and mortality. These clinical signs are indistinguishable from other acute septicemic diseases. In the chronic form, the signs of depression, anorexia and fever are less severe than in the acute form, and recovery is occasionally seen in mature animals. Transplacental infection with viral strains of low virulence often results in persistently infected piglets, which constitute a major cause of virus dissemination to non-infected farms.

The hosts of CSF are the pig and wild boar. The disease has been eradicated in Australia, Canada and the United States. Modified live vaccines with no residual virulence for pigs have become available. In countries where CSF is enzootic, a systematic vaccination program is effective in preventing losses. CSF is not considered a zoonotic disease as humans are not susceptible to infection.

Vesicular stomatitis is a viral disease characterized by fever, vesicles and subsequent erosions in the mouth and epithelium on the teats and feet. Pigs, horses and cattle are naturally susceptible; sheep and goats are rarely affected. VS is recognized internationally as a reportable disease, and detection of this disease in the United States will lead to serious economic and regulatory repercussions, blocking international trade of U.S. animals. Interstate movement of animals is also impacted. Premises containing affected animals are quarantined until 21 days after the lesions in the last affected animal have healed.

While VS can cause economic losses to livestock producers, it is a particularly significant disease because its outward signs are similar to other FADs like foot-and-mouth disease and swine vesicular disease. The only way to tell these diseases apart is through laboratory testing. VS is a zoonotic disease — in humans it causes an influenza-like illness with fever, headache, muscular aches and blisters in the mouth.

FMD is a highly contagious viral infection of pigs, cattle, sheep, goats, water buffalo and cloven-hoofed wild animals. The disease is characterized by fever and vesicles with subsequent erosions in the mouth, nares, muzzle, feet or teats. FMD is considered enzootic in some Asian and African countries, but it is not considered to be a public health problem.

Swine vesicular disease is an acute, contagious viral disease of swine characterized by fever and vesicles with subsequent erosions in the mouth and on the snout, feet and teats. Pigs are the only natural host. SVD is considered a zoonotic disease, as accidental laboratory infection of humans has been reported. There is no vaccine available to combat this virus.

In order to keep these FAD infectious agents out of our farms, we have to continue general public awareness and the dedication to biosecurity measures. Implementing additional protective barriers such as refusing pork meat into your farms, implementing worker showers, wearing protective clothing/boot covers, having air filtration, and installing stations to wash and disinfect trucks and trailers have shown to be efficacious in keeping these pathogens out of swine barns. As an industry, we still procure some vitamins, amino acids, antibiotics and protein such as soybeans from countries where these FAD infectious agents are endemic.

Given the biosecurity of how these ingredients are stored and bagged, these ingredients represent a huge risk in the transmission of a transboundary disease. Utilizing feed mitigants and additional product hold times have been shown to be efficacious in inactivating the FAD infectious agents. Extreme caution should be taken when considering hosting someone on your farm from FAD-endemic regions and a five-day downtime should be observed before allowing them to enter the farm.

To detect FAD outbreaks early, suspicious signs of an FAD must be promptly reported to the state veterinarian. Private veterinarians in clinical practice are knowledgeable with the occurrences of domestic animal diseases and are likely to be the first to suspect the presence of an FAD. Prompt reporting of suspicious signs will enable responsible agencies to conduct an investigation, obtain a diagnosis and contain an FAD outbreak before it spreads. The economic and industrial losses due to the potential introduction of an FAD are too great and in order to protect the U.S. swine industry our No. 1 mission is to keep these infectious agents out of the United States.

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

MORNING Midwest Digest, May 28, 2019

The Dayton, Ohio, area got hit with severe storms and tornados last night. 

Rain amounts continue to be impressive, but not in a favorable way, across the heartland. Some places got 5-10 inches over the weekend.

The slow-planting/no-planting corn market rally continued overnight. 

Conceal and carry firearms comes with some risk. A Kentucky man's concealed gun went off in a store and he shot himself.


Photo: cosmin4000/Getty Images


Accurate data on ASF impact in China difficult to obtain

Getty Images A vendor in China sell a variety of pork cuts

Even with two offices in China and U.S. Meat Export Federation staff out on the road continuously trying to get the latest information on African swine fever’s impact on pork production there, Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific, says accurate data is hard to come by. 

“As I’ve said many times, it’s very difficult to get information because the latest statistics show there are still 25 million hog producers in China,” Haggard says, “so what we’re concentrating on is really trying to look at the import side. That’s a bit more transparent because we have the statistics, although delayed. We’re also trying to find any tidbits on what’s happening on the consumption side.”

Haggard spoke Friday during a panel discussion on ASF at the closing business session of the USMEF Spring Conference and Board of Directors Meeting in Kansas City. While the anticipated “hole” in China’s pork production has not yet generated a surge in imports, Haggard says a significant increase is expected to come soon.

“What happens on the import side will depend on the production minus the consumption impact,” Haggard says. “I would think over time consumers would get used to gradual price rises, but in the short term if prices really spiked up we will see some people turn away from pork because of prices not because of African swine fever concerns.”

Vietnam, on the other hand, has had a much more notable drop in pork production since ASF broke there, Haggard says.

“Vietnam has had a very severe consumption response. I think it is a spike down and possibly a slow return up on that consumption but we will just have to see,” Haggard says. “A much higher percentage of consumers in Vietnam buy fresh pork.”

When ASF broke, figures from Ho Chi Minh City showed a 50% drop in pork movement through their wholesale markets in that southern region, Haggard says.

“There is no such survey that I have seen yet measuring the consumption impact on a national scale, but it’s certainly been a sharp drop and that’s led to a quick decline in hog prices,” Haggard says.

The ASF panel discussion marked the conclusion of the USMEF Spring Conference and Board of Directors Meeting. The federation’s next meeting is its annual strategic planning conference, set for Nov. 6-8 in Tucson, Ariz.

Source: U.S. Meat Export Federation, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Farm Progress America, May 28, 2019

Max Armstrong shared some insight on the recent announcement of the new trade assistance package to soften the blows of the trade deals that are hitting agriculture. Max shared comments from Zippy Duvall, president, American Farm Bureau Federation. President Trump commented during the announcement that the trade assistance was to send China a message. The Market Facilitation Program was announced without payment rates, which commodity groups are watching.

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

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News