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Smithfield Foods releases 2018 Sustainability Report, launches virtual tour

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This week Smithfield Foods, Inc. released its 2018 Sustainability Report, highlighting key milestones and ongoing efforts to feed the world’s growing population in a responsible way. 

“Our people work hard every day to maintain our position as a leader in sustainability, ensuring that we are fulfilling our mission to produce good food the right way. It is extremely gratifying to lead a team that is so passionate about meeting this responsibility,” says Kenneth M. Sullivan, president and chief executive officer for Smithfield Foods. “Sustainability is part of our culture. We have seen first-hand how investing in sustainability by setting bold goals and hard targets—and achieving them—is a win-win for our company and our stakeholders, including our animals, employees, neighbors and planet.”

As part of Smithfield’s ongoing commitment to transparency, the company also has launched an interactive tool that brings to life each stage of its supply chain—from farm to facility to fork—to show where its food comes from and how it gets to consumers’ tables. The virtual tour includes videos and case studies on sustainability initiatives that have driven Smithfield to the forefront of its industry.

“We take a comprehensive approach to sustainability throughout our entire supply chain,” says Stewart Leeth, vice president of regulatory affairs and chief sustainability officer for Smithfield. “We are always innovating and looking for new opportunities to push beyond the status quo. Our groundbreaking efforts are making a real difference in the lives of our animals, employees, suppliers, customers and consumers, and we will continue to take bold steps to deliver on our promise to produce good food in a responsible way.”

Smithfield’s 2018 Sustainability Report highlights performance metrics, accomplishments, case studies and progress toward a number of sustainability goals and targets, including:

Animal Care:

  • Maintaining group housing for all pregnant sows on company-owned farms, a goal achieved in 2017.
  • Advancing innovative vaccine research through the company’s laboratory on the Raleigh campus of North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine to develop better strategies for animal disease prevention.


  • Exceeding the company’s target to source sustainable grain with 80% of grain purchases originating from farms where efficient fertilizer and soil health practices were implemented.
  • Expanding the company’s efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions with an ambitious, 10-year plan to convert hog manure into clean, renewable energy at hog farms in North Carolina, Missouri, Utah and Virginia.
  • Achieving an 8.7% reduction in solid waste (normalized) sent to landfills across the company’s U.S. operations, reducing its environmental impact while simultaneously growing and increasing food production.
  • Certifying 12 U.S. facilities to the company’s zero-waste-to-landfill standard.
  • Establishing a new goal to reduce the company’s solid waste to landfill by 75% and achieve zero-waste-to-landfill certification at 75% of its U.S. facilities by 2025.

Food Safety and Quality:

  • Investing approximately $130 million on capital projects across the company that continue to advance industry-leading food safety and quality standards.

Helping Communities:

  • Donating nearly $30 million in cash, product and in-kind contributions during 2018, including donations to food banks to celebrate the company’s 10-year anniversary of Helping Hungry Homes.


  • Completing the global implementation of the company’s industry-leading injury prevention system for employee safety, enhancing its efforts to continuously improve performance beyond industry averages.
  • Exceeding the company’s inaugural diversity goal by 30% for its U.S. internship program.

Source: Smithfield Foods, 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.

Bite on this instead: Block lures pigs away from biting tails

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Getting grow-finish hogs to stop tail biting and other vice behaviors has been testing producers’ patience and impacting their pocketbooks for years. While nutritionists have tried remedies such as adding extra salt, extra fiber or extra fat to the ration as a whole-herd approach to the issue, one animal nutrition company says it has developed a new product, that specifically gives those aggressive pigs something else to sink their teeth into.

“Vice behavior in pigs, or pig aggression, seems to be getting worse,” says Jamie Pietig, senior swine nutritionist at Hubbard Feeds. “It’s an animal welfare concern and we need to make sure that we’re doing everything we can do to produce pigs in a safe, healthy and sustainable manner, and part of that is making sure that we take care of aggression such as tail biting, ear necrosis, flank sores, and that’s what really led to this product and the innovation behind it.”

During ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference, Hubbard officially launched AllBite, a molasses-based block, that not only addresses aggressive behavior in specific pens, but also provides a biological that moderates neurotransmission, or as Pietig says has a “calming effect” on pigs.

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“We’ve got molasses in there, and that’s going to attract the pigs. It’s going to have a mineral texture to it and it’s going to definitely take the pigs’ attention and behavior away from picking on each other to pecking on the block,” Pietig says. “The beauty of the product is that most of the time pig aggression and tail biting doesn’t happen to all of the pens in the barn. It’s just a certain one or two that may be in the corners, that don’t have quite as much air flow, so you can treat very specifically, rather than trying to treat the entire barn.”

Available through all Hubbard dealers, AllBite comes in a 23-pound, biodegradable container and is designed to be hung from the fence or the ceiling with a chain. The chain hanger reduces the possibility of the block getting pushed into a corner and ignored by the pigs, and also keeps the product clean, increasing the likelihood that the pigs will continue chewing on the block.

“One of the problems with that is when you try to address an entire group of pigs with feed, it’s really, once you see the problem, once its reported, once it gets to the nutritionist and to the feed mill and when the next batch of feed is delivered with the reformulation, it might be two weeks later,” Pietig says. “With the block, if you have a couple of them stocked in your barn, I mean it’s immediate. You can stop it right now and do something about it.”

While Hubbard’s sister company Ridley is known nationwide for its block technology on the beef side, Pietig says this is a first for the swine industry and has been something the Hubbard team has been working on for the last three years.

“One of the hardest parts about developing the block was to make it hard enough to withstand, 25 300-pound pigs trying to do their best to destroy it,” Pietig says.

The Hubbard nutrition team recommends using blocks at the first sign of pen aggression during the two weeks prior to the first cut going out of a finishing barn.

“If you see you one pig in that pen and it has a little nick on his tail, that’s right when you should be putting it in,” Pietig says. “If it’s so progressed, that we’re treating on the back end, the effectiveness isn’t going to be as great as if you could get it in there as soon as the first sign of any aggression or any lesions on pigs from aggression.”

Pietig says while the industry continues to be more productive in genetics and breeding for a higher average daily gain, better efficiency, better quality meat, etc., one of the things that has been hardest to influence has been behavior and the aggressive nature of pigs.

“This is a problem that frustrates all professionals and producers and it seems like there’s very little we can do to help prevent it,” Pietig says. “I think it’s going to get great traction in the market and within the industry just because it is a welfare issue and we want to make sure that we’re doing the best job that we can and this is a tool that can help them.”

Trump trade retaliation aid applauded by NPPC

National Pork Board Finisher pigs closeup

The Trump administration today announces a trade relief package in response to the U.S. trade dispute with China. USDA’s trade retaliation relief program includes direct payments to qualifying pork producers, pork surplus purchases for the benefit of low-income families and others in need, and additional funding to develop new export opportunities. The amount of farmer payments and commodity purchases will be announced at a later date.

“We thank President Trump for recognizing that our patriot farmers have borne the brunt of China’s trade retaliation,” says David Herring, a pork producer from Lillington, N.C., and president of the National Pork Producers Council. “The U.S. pork industry has been one of the most adversely affected sectors, receiving a one-two punch in the form of a 50% punitive tariff from China on top of the existing 12% duty and, until recently, a 20% punitive tariff from Mexico. This trade aid will help repair some of the damage inflicted upon U.S. pork producers.”

In addition to Herring, two other NPPC members — Minnesota producer Randy Spronk and Illinois producer Phil Borgic — joined President Trump and USDA Secretary Perdue for the White House announcement.

“It was an honor to attend this event and represent U.S. pork producers, who have been significantly harmed by China’s unfair trade retaliation,” Herring says. “We thank President Trump and USDA Secretary Perdue for standing up for U.S. agriculture, restoring zero-tariff trade with Mexico and providing support for American farmers.”

Herring adds, “The current situation in China represents a historic sales opportunity for U.S. pork. The world’s largest pork-consuming nation is currently experiencing a dramatic reduction in domestic supply because of an animal disease that has ravaged its national swine herd. We look forward to continued work with the administration to restore favorable access to China, allowing U.S. pork producers to capitalize on this opportunity, reduce our trade deficit with China and deliver enormous benefits to the U.S. economy.”

China is the largest consumer of pork in the world. Its swine herd has been ravaged by African swine fever, significantly reducing domestic production and increasing pork imports. However, U.S. pork producers have been hamstrung by a 50% punitive tariff from China, on top of the existing 12% duty. NPPC is eager for a resolution to the China trade dispute. Absent punitive tariffs, China currently represent an historic sales opportunity for U.S pork producers.

In addition to resolution with the China trade dispute, NPPC urges Congress to quickly ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which preserves zero-tariff access to markets that represent more than 30% of total U.S. pork exports.

NPPC has designated USMCA ratification as a “key vote” and will closely monitor support of the agreement among members of Congress. U.S. pork exports to Mexico and Canada support 16,000 U.S. jobs.

NPPC also urges the administration to quickly complete a trade deal with Japan, the largest value market and the second largest volume market for U.S. pork exports. Japan’s new trade agreements with the European Union and other regions are causing an erosion of U.S. pork market share.

According to Dermot Hayes, an Iowa State University economist, U.S. pork will see exports to Japan grow from $1.6 billion in 2018 to more than $2.2 billion over the next 15 years if the United States quickly gains access on par with international competitors. Hayes reports that U.S. pork shipments to Japan will drop to $349 million if a trade deal on these terms is not quickly reached with Japan.

Source: National Pork Producers Council, 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.

Optimism in Kansas City as U.S. pork enters Mexico at zero duty again

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The U.S. Meat Export Federation Spring Conference and Board of Directors Meeting kicked off in Kansas City this week, fueled by optimism after recent trade developments. In his address to the USMEF membership, Dan Halstrom, president and CEO, reported on Mexico’s removal of retaliatory duties on U.S. pork, Canada’s elimination of a 10% duty on prepared beef products and Japan’s lifting of longstanding restrictions on U.S. beef exports.

“When I was preparing my comments a week ago there were a lot of negative things to talk about, like the 20% duty on pork going into Mexico,” Halstrom says. “But we received some great news with the U.S., Mexico and Canada reaching a resolution on steel and aluminum tariffs and removal of the retaliatory duties on U.S. products. So on Monday morning, the first loads of pork in nearly a year crossed the border into Mexico at zero duty.”

Halstrom says he is also encouraged by the recent launch of U.S.-Japan trade negotiations, noting that Japan’s new trade agreements with the European Union and countries participating in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership have put U.S. pork and beef at a significant disadvantage in the leading value market for both products. He adds that gaining access to Japan for U.S. beef from cattle of all ages, which was announced last week and took effect May 20, will provide immediate, added momentum for U.S. beef exports.

“Now that the 30-month cattle age limit has been lifted, we estimate that this will provide a $150 to $200 million per year incremental boost for beef exports to Japan,” Halstrom says. “This opens up new product lines such as mountain chain tripe and tongues on the variety meat side, and for primal cuts we’ll see demand for middle meats and chuck rolls. It’s very exciting news and I want to extend a great big thank you to USDA and USTR for their work on this issue.”

USMEF Chair Conley Nelson, a pork producer from Algona, Iowa, says resiliency and industry unity are key factors in gaining broader market access for U.S. agricultural exports.

“Obviously we are in a period of uncertainty and volatility, and that can sometimes lead to increased tension and division in U.S. agriculture,” Nelson says. “That’s something we absolutely cannot afford, especially in these difficult times. So I’m excited to see such a high level of cooperation among all industry sectors.”

Wednesday’s keynote speaker was Peter Zeihan, a global trade expert and best-selling author, who offered his perspective on how the current trade environment impacts U.S. agriculture and the red meat industry specifically. He notes that despite facing many challenges, the United States is remarkably well-positioned to have continued success as an agricultural exporter.

“Geographically, the U.S. has it made,” Zeihan says. “The Greater Midwest is the single largest chunk of arable land in a temperate zone in the world, and it out-produces the next two largest agricultural zones put together. The Greater Mississippi, by itself, has more miles of naturally navigable waterway than the combined internal systems of the rest of the world. This chunk of North America is both the richest territory on the planet and the most securable. Decades of bipartisan effort have yet to screw this up, and this will not be the administration that cracks the code.”

When asked about the U.S. trade deficit, Zeihan acknowledges that the deficit has expanded under the Trump administration and that the administration’s approach to trade has been hard on U.S. agriculture. However, Zeihan feels strongly the United States has the upper hand in trade relations, especially with China.

“The United States holds all the cards here, and if the U.S. is willing to walk away from the game board and kick it over, it won’t be the one feeling the pain,” Zeihan says. “What you’re seeing right now with the trade deficit is a transitional period. In this moment, it looks like the United States doesn’t have as much leverage as it actually does. You feel that more than any other sector, because agriculture is the only thing that foreign governments can target. But this moment of transition isn’t going to last long. The title of my presentation was ‘At the Edge of Disorder,’ and we’re at the edge.”

The USMEF Spring Conference continues Thursday with an address (via teleconference) from Ted McKinney, USDA undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, and meetings of USMEF’s standing committees. The conference will conclude Friday with a panel discussion on the trade implications of African swine fever.

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.

The Maschhoffs partner with Whiteshire Hamroc

The Maschhoffs The Maschhoffs’ goal is to be the industry’s high-value, cost-efficient hog supplier.
The Maschhoffs’ goal is to be the industry’s high-value, cost-efficient hog supplier.

The Maschhoffs have announced a partnership with Whiteshire Hamroc, headquartered in Albion, Ind. The collaboration between the two families with a long heritage of pig production will deliver a stream of animals utilizing The Maschhoffs’ internal genetic lines for The Maschhoffs’ production sow farms.

“This is a great opportunity for two well-respected families to work cooperatively toward future success within the swine industry,” says Bradley Wolter, president of The Maschhoffs.

The Lemmon family has been farming in north central Indiana for more than 100 years. Like many farm families, they diversified into swine production and ultimately founded Whiteshire Hamroc. The Maschhoff family has known the Lemmons for years and are excited to move forward with this partnership.

“This strategic partnership represents over a year of planning and preparation toward an effort that truly extracts the long family heritage in production agriculture and best attributes of both companies,” says Mike Lemmon, CEO of Whiteshire Hamroc LLC.

As part of the agreement, The Maschhoffs’ Technical Operations group will work cooperatively with Whiteshire Hamroc to produce genetic animals for further multiplication within The Maschhoffs’ system.

Source: The Maschhoffs, 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.

MORNING Midwest Digest, May 23, 2019

Of course it's raining, again. Many amounts of 2 inches have been reported, and some tornados caused fatalities. 

There could be more layoffs for Ford, say analysts.

Press reports indicate President Trump will visit an ethanol refinery in the coming days.

Chris Soules has settled a wrongful death lawsuit. Sentencing is being postponed.

The Tennessee Speaker of the House is under fire for some questionable expenses.


Photos: photosbyjim/Getty Images


National Hog Farmer to host first Global Hog Industry Virtual Conference

Global Hog Industry Virtual Conference

Trade disputes, African swine fever, human intelligence for production optimization, using pigs to save human lives, hog barn innovation and more will be among the topics covered as the swine industry worldwide comes together June 6, for the first-ever Global Hog Industry Virtual Conference.

During the opening keynote session, National Hog Farmer will unveil the pork production companies that made this year’s Global Mega Producer list. The session will also include a discussion on the global market trends shaping the hog industry of the future. National Hog Farmer editor Ann Hess will be joined by long-time broadcaster Max Armstrong of This Week in Agribusiness to dig deep into how ASF and trade disputes are impacting these global mega operations. They will be joined by a panel that includes market analyst Dennis Smith, a regular contributor to National Hog Farmer.

The Global Hog Industry Virtual Conference also will cover innovation happening at the barn level with an emphasis on achieving a higher level of individual animal management and increased performance and efficiency. Experts will be on hand to discussion the latest trends in this sector.

Attendees will also get to hear how the successful adoption of precision production will be highly dependent on having engaged employee teams in the barn. The session will show why creating a culture that works for all involved is needed and ultimately results in efficiency and animal performance gains.

Feed safety is another topic of key importance for producers and the industry. Without question, this past year has brought even greater attention to the safety of the feed being given to pigs. The industry has taken steps forward in securing the feed supply, but there is still more to be done. Scott Dee of Pipestone Veterinary Services, Liz Wagstrom of the National Pork Producers Council and Leah Wilkinson of the American Feed Industry Association, along with others, will be on hand for a live panel discussion on the state of feed security, research on new tools and best practices to help mitigate risk.

Hosted by National Hog Farmer and its sponsor partners, this one-day digital conference will bring in-depth knowledge and insight via desktop and/or mobile device, and all at not cost for attendees.

The event is made possible by Provimi, ChoreTime/PigTek, Genesus, Alltech, Hubbard, Merck, Kent Nutrition Group, Pork Checkoff, ADM Animal Nutrition, Hog Hearth and IL-Tek Lighting Solutions, International Nutrition and Kemin.

Click here to register for the Global Hog Industry Virtual Conference.

Farm Progress America, May 23, 2019

Max Armstrong offers insight into a recent survey by the National Pork Board looking at consumer behavior when it comes to dining out. The group wants to understand the out-of-home dining decisions. Pork is the No. 1 consumed protein globally, but when pork represents less than 7% of entre options when people dine out in the United States. Max shares more insights from the study.

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: Khlongwangchao/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Undersecretary Ibach further details ASF efforts

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African swine fever (ASF) remains top of mind for Greg Ibach, undersecretary for marketing and regulatory affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. During a House livestock and foreign agriculture subcommittee hearing to review the nation’s animal pest and disease prevention and response capabilities, Ibach said he remains confident in the tools the agency has relied on in the past to prevent the entry of ASF into the U.S. and also detailed how the agency remains vigilant in keeping out the disease with new steps.

Ibach said USDA continues to work very closely with the pork industry and a few months ago detailed 17 areas of concern, with feed being one of them. “As we look at trying to address the concerns in feed, we don’t have the same science to analyze risk there that we have in some of the other vectors we are seeking to control,” he explained.

The swine industry is highly dependent on some feed ingredient imports from China, especially in the micronutrient areas, and shutting down all imports of feed from China would actually hurt many U.S. producers. “At this time, in agreement with the swine industry, we haven’t taken any additional steps” to limit those imports, he said.

However, the agency remains diligent in import restrictions from infected areas and focusing on cargo and passengers from high-risk areas. Ibach said 60 new dog teams are going to be deployed to help sniff out any illegally imported products. He said USDA is acquiring those dogs right now, some of which are beagles in shelters of the right age and health status. The training program takes 6-12 months before deploying those dog teams in conjunction with the U.S. Customs & Border Patrol.

Finding a vaccine remains another component of addressing ASF. Ibach noted that ASF has proved to be a tough disease for which to find a cure or a vaccine for treatment. He said finding a vaccine that is effective could be as far off as eight years.

Dr. Burke Healey, associate deputy administrator of veterinary services with USDA's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), added that with threat across the globe and recognition that ASF is a worldwide issue, finding a vaccine is a key concern. However, the challenge is that there are more than 20 different types of ASF, so it is “not an easy virus to find a good vaccine for,” he explained.

Ibach said the U.S. and North American counterparts in Canada and Mexico are laying the groundwork for a coordinated strategy in responding to ASF. He said Canada and the U.S. are working more closely because of the live animal movement between the two countries.

In a joint statement Wednesday, the U.S. and Canada's chief veterinary officers, Dr. Jack Shere and Dr. Jaspinder Komal, detailed how the two countries have agreed to allow safe trade to continue in the event that ASF is reported in either country.

“For business continuity, Canada and the United States have worked to modify their export certificates to allow trade of live swine, swine semen, pet food and animal byproducts and meat to continue trade in approved disease-free zones in the event of an ASF outbreak. This builds on Canada and U.S. zoning arrangements entered into by [the Canadian Food Inspection Agency] and USDA on Aug. 15, 2018, which set out principles for zoning and trade,” the chief veterinarians noted.

Zoning is an internationally recognized tool used to help manage diseases and facilitate international trade. If a case of ASF is identified, geographic boundaries are defined to contain the outbreak. These geographic boundaries are control zones established in accordance with World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines. The areas outside of these control zones are disease-free zones.

The importance of zoning and safe trade was echoed by all levels of governments and industry representatives at an ASF Forum, an international event hosted by Canada on April 30 and May 1 in collaboration with the U.S. and supported by leaders from Mexico, the European Union, the U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization, OIE, provincial, territorial and state partners and the industry.

Ibach said he is hopeful that additional regionalization agreements can be established at a country or state level to limit export restrictions. This will depend on early diagnosis, USDA's ability to contain the disease and assuring trading partners that the U.S. understands the nature of the spread of the disease.

Ibach said APHIS has had varying levels of success at cooperating with Asian countries on ASF. The agency has offered to let China use APHIS veterinarians serving in the Beijing, China, office as technical experts, but so far, they have not accepted the assistance. Ibach added that they’ve also reached out to Vietnam in terms of testing and diagnostics in hopes of field test systems to verify accuracy in identifying the disease.

In the U.S., pork producers marketed more than 120 million hogs in 2017, which provided total cash receipts of more than $20 billion and provided about 25 billion lb. of meat to consumers worldwide. Additionally, the U.S. pork industry supports more than a half-million jobs in the U.S., with the majority of those in rural areas.

In Canada, the pork industry contributes to more than 100,000 jobs and generates close to $24 billion when farms, inputs, processing and pork exports are included. Canada is the third-largest pork-exporting country in both value and volume and represents about 20% of world pork trade. In 2017, 1.2 million tons of Canadian pork valued at $4 billion were exported to more than 100 countries.

MORNING Midwest Digest, May 22, 2019

Storms dropped 2 inches of rain on parts of Missouri, and other places in the Midwest incurred damage.

The St. Louis Blues will head to the Stanley Cup finals, for the first time in nearly 50 years.

The Kentucky ag commissioner won the nomination for re-election. 

The winning streak continues for James Holzhauer on Jeopardy. 

Facebook announced plans to construct a fifth data center in Iowa.


Photo: MILANTE/Getty Images