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Articles from 2020 In September

Merck extends scholarship support to next generation of veterinarians

Thinkstock Vets holding a pig

Merck Animal Health, in partnership with the Food Systems Fellowship Program coordinated by the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, has announced awarding three scholarships to veterinary students participating in the program. Each student will receive a $5,000 scholarship to advance his or her education in livestock production.

"The future of animal health lies in the next generation of future leaders," says Lowell Midla, VMD, Livestock Technical Services Veterinarian for Merck Animal Health. "Merck Animal Health is committed to helping to develop future veterinary leaders and we have been proud to partner with Michigan State University since 2013 to provide support to outstanding students."

The following students will receive 2020 Merck Animal Health Scholarships.

Patrick Crannell of Waitsfield, Vt., earned his bachelor's degree in English from St. Michael's College in Colchester, Vt. He is currently a third-year student at the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine and expects to graduate in May 2022. His goal is to work as a dairy veterinarian after graduating.

Ellen Launstein of Dansville, Mich., earned a bachelor's degree in animal science from MSU in 2018. She is currently a third-year student at the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine and expects to graduate in May 2022. After graduating, she plans to enter private practice and focus on production animal species, particularly dairy cattle.

Jessica Zenchak Petersen of Brookfield, Ill., earned two bachelor's degrees — one in biology, one in French — from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. She then earned a master's degree in neuroscience from Central Michigan University. She is currently a third-year student at the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine and expects to graduate in May 2022. After graduating, she aspires to become a production animal veterinarian.

"Merck Animal Health is an outstanding partner," says Ángel Abuelo, head of the FSF Program and assistant professor of Cattle Health and Wellbeing for the MSU Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences. "Their research, products and services to advance animal healthcare are huge assets for our students and other future veterinarians who are learning to care for production animals."

Click here for additional information on the Food Systems Fellowship Program.

For more than a century, Merck has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world's most challenging diseases. Merck Animal Health, a division of Merck & Co. Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., is the global animal health business unit of Merck. Through its commitment to the Science of Healthier Animals, MAH offers veterinarians, farmers, pet owners and governments one of the widest ranges of veterinary pharmaceuticals, vaccines and health management solutions and services as well as an extensive suite of digitally connected identification, traceability and monitoring products. MAH is dedicated to preserving and improving the health, well-being and performance of animals and the people who care for them. It invests extensively in dynamic and comprehensive research and development resources and a modern, global supply chain. MAH is present in more than 50 countries, while its products are available in some 150 markets.

The MSU College of Veterinary Medicine was established in 1910, although veterinary science has been taught at MSU since the institution's founding in 1855. With a focus on One Health — the interconnectedness of animal, human and environmental health — the college is at the forefront of veterinary medical education, research, clinical practice, and diagnostic and public health services. For more information, visit the College, the MSU Veterinary Medical Center and the MSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

Source: Merck Animal Health, 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.

Zoetis releases updated Mycoplasma Hyopneumoniae manual

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Zoetis has released an update of the comprehensive manual, "A Contemporary Review of Mycoplasma Hyopneumoniae Control Strategies," a 62-page booklet with 14 articles developed by swine-disease experts specializing in this pathogen.

The revised booklet features an updated section on breeding-herd classifications and a new section on fogging for controlled exposure to M. hyo.

Also known as enzootic pneumonia, mycoplasma pneumonia is a prevalent and costly disease caused by M. hyo. In damaging the cilia (tiny hairs lining pigs' upper respiratory airways), the disease exposes the respiratory tract to bacterial and viral infections and coinfections by other pathogens.

"Respiratory infection caused by M. hyo has been a well-known feature of swine production for decades," says Lucina Galina Pantoja, DVM, Ph.D., director, U.S. Pork Technical Services, Zoetis. "Despite a long acquaintance with M. hyo and its principal clinical manifestation, enzootic pneumonia, some gaps in our understanding of the disease and its control still remain, and new information on diagnosis and management of M. hyo infection has emerged. The purpose of this review is to provide a comprehensive update on M. hyo."

The manual is structured as a five-step approach for managing M. hyo in the production setting, including:

  1. Establishing herd status classification criteria for breeding herds
  2. Diagnosis of infection
  3. Risk management
  4. Control measures
  5. Monitoring intervention strategies

"Regardless of a farm's M. hyo status, there are chapters in this manual that will be beneficial for production veterinarians," Galina says.

To download a copy of the updated M. hyo manual, visit Pig Health Today

Source: Zoetis, 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.

Tyson Foods donates record amount of protein

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Tyson Foods, Inc. has donated more food over the past year than ever in its 85-year history. More than 30 million pounds, or the equivalent of 120 million meals, were donated by the company during the last 12 months to fight hunger.

The food donations were part of more than $75 million the company invested to fulfill its commitment to address hunger insecurity, support its team members and improve the quality of life in the communities where it operates.

The company's COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund distributed grants and food donations to nonprofit organizations working to help people in plant communities across the United States.  The company has also provided $6 million in financial assistance through its Helping Hands program directly to team members in need during the pandemic. 

"Our company is proud to play a critical role in feeding the nation during this challenging time, and we recognize the importance of supporting our team members, their families and our plant communities," says John R. Tyson, chief sustainability officer, Tyson Foods. "We've focused resources where we can generate the most impact and support organizations doing heroic work at the local level."

The company provided nearly 20 million meals to Feed the Children, a leading nonprofit focused on alleviating childhood hunger, and its network of hundreds of community partners across the United States. Feed the Children and Tyson Foods have partnered for 18 years to provide protein to families, food banks, churches and community pantries.

"At Feed the Children, we work hard every day to ensure that as needs rise, children and their families continue to receive critical food and other resources," says Bob Thomas, chief corporate and external relations officer, Feed the Children. "We understand that 2020 has been a difficult year for many families and we are thankful to our partners at Tyson Foods for their generous gifts. High-quality protein is so important for growing children and families and this has allowed us to provide nutritious food to millions across the country."

This year, the partnership between Tyson Foods and Feed the Children served families in hundreds of communities ensuring that those who have not previously had to worry about their livelihoods before COVID-19 still had access to nutritious food. The organizations also partnered to provide much-needed food and disaster relief following Hurricane Laura.

Hunger relief
The company has donated more than 30 million pounds of protein, valued at more than $65 million this year, and expanded hunger relief efforts to include product donations to the Tyson Community Pantry Program for local solutions to hunger.

A grant to Open Door Service Center in Sedalia, Mo., helped feed a community where one in five children go to bed hungry. Product donations from the local Tyson plant have also made an impact.

"Between our soup kitchen and food pantry, we distribute an average of nearly 114,000 pounds of food per month," says Jennifer Taylor, director of Development, Open Door Service Center.  "Storage and management of this quantity would not be possible without Tyson's grant, nor would we have the large quantity like this without Tyson's donations."

Healthcare workers, summer feeding programs, mobile pantries and backpack programs were also supported in Tyson communities. More than 40 million meals went directly to team members working hard to feed the country.

Community grants, investments
One hundred and eighty-one rapid response grants were awarded for emergency support of nonprofit organizations near Tyson plant locations to help Tyson team members and the local community. The grants averaged $5,500 and were given in more than 120 plant communities. They focused on nonprofit partners providing emergency response efforts such as rent and utility assistance, hunger relief, health care, childcare, small business support and other economic recovery services.

Two grants were awarded to The Bridge of Storm Lake, Iowa, to address hunger relief and youth support services.

"The support from Tyson Foods included 218,000 pounds of protein donated since November of 2019 and 165,000 pounds since March 2020," says Shelly Rock, executive director and youth advocate, The Bridge of Storm Lake. "Our youth programs have been able to adapt in new and creative ways through the pandemic with the help of the sustainability grant. Over 90% of the youth we work with have a family connection to Tyson. We are grateful to be able to partner with Tyson to connect, support and empower youth (and their families) in the community of Storm Lake, Iowa."

The company partnered with DonorsChoose to give $1.8 million in grants to teachers in 60 of their plant communities. More than 1,900 projects were funded to assist 205,361 students in subjects like literacy, language and STEM. Many of the projects funded were for distance learning materials.

More than a half-million dollars were provided to local services for immigrant team members from the company's at-large grant program. Immigrant Connections was voted by Tyson team members as the fifth $1,000,000 recipient to help support social injustice initiatives.

Team member support
Because team members are Tyson's most valuable asset, more than $6 million to date has been provided through the company's Helping Hands program, which offers financial assistance directly to team members following a disaster or personal hardship. The COVID-19 global pandemic was no exception.

More than 4,000 team members received assistance of up to $1,500 to help pay rent, utilities, childcare or other emergency needs.

Team member giving
Funds were allocated to the company's Giving Together program to amplify the impact of giving from team members and encourage the support of a wide variety of non-profit organizations impacted by the pandemic. From March 1 to Sept. 1, the company matched nearly $400,000 in team member donations, up from $100,000 during the same period last year.

Upward Academy
Tyson's on-site education program for frontline team members offers free classes in ESL, high school equivalency, U.S. citizenship and financial and digital literacy. The program successfully adapted to challenges this year by providing instruction in alternative settings. Instructors sent printed materials home, helped students access curriculum on their phones and provided Microsoft SurfaceGo tablets as part of a pilot program so students could continue learning remotely.

Fifty digital learning labs have been deployed and are ready for use when students return to classroom learning. Additions to available curriculum include new training videos and video curriculum for financial literacy.

The Upward Academy interpreting team supported human resources communication efforts by translating important information and offering in-language support for team members. Many frontline team members are new immigrants and come from dozens of different countries: up to 50 different countries may be represented within a single plant. Tyson Foods says it recognizes how critical each of them is to the work they do, and how they are at the heart of the achievements they share as a company.

Source: Tyson Foods, Inc., 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, September 30, 2020

Max Armstrong shares insight on the latest presidential election given his years in the industry. He looks at ways the incumbent administration can work to help key groups. For example, the farm payments released by the government are raising a concern among some groups. Max notes that direct farm aid has climbed each year of the Trump presidency.

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: halduns/iStock/Getty Images Plus

'Tackling influenza' webinar rescheduled

hog farm surrounded by trees

Due to technical difficulties, National Hog Farmer's Science Talks. webinar — "Tackling Influenza – field perspectives" — brought to you by Merck Animal Health has been rescheduled to 1 p.m. CDT Oct. 5. This event had originally been scheduled for Sept. 29.

Bob Thompson and Pete Thomas, both veterinarians, will offer their views and experiences with influenza from the field.

Thompson joined PIC USA in 1991 and stayed with the company until retiring last year. He continues to do some swine consulting. Thomas is director of health services for Iowa Select Farms.

People who had registered for the original webinar date will receive notification of the new date. If you have not yet registered for the "Tackling Influenza – field perspectives" webinar, you will still be able to by clicking here.

Don't worry if Oct. 5 will not fit your schedule; if you are registered, you will receive an email once the webinar is completed that will allow you to watch the webinar on-demand.


Iowa pork industry teamwork was key during COVID-19 plant shutdowns

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Faced with one of the biggest challenges pork producers have ever seen, the Iowa Pork Industry Center at Iowa State University spent the spring and summer of 2020 trying to help the industry prepare for the worst, and respond constructively to what was already happening.

In early March, prior to fully seeing the impact COVID-19 would have on Iowa businesses, the center began working on a research project with Iowa State swine nutritionists John Patience, Nick Gabler and Laura Greiner, to determine nutritional strategies for slowing down the growth rate of pigs in the event that packing capacity would be affected.

As predicted, the COVID-19 pandemic ultimately caused packing plants to slow down and in some instances temporarily close, which greatly reduced harvest capacity and led to an oversupply of market-ready hogs and lack of space on farms. Fortunately, the foresight paid off and data from the initial project was coming available just as packing plant capacity was being significantly impacted. This knowledge helped farmers with placing hogs on holding diets, until the hogs could be moved to processing.

Jason Ross, director of the Iowa Pork Industry Center and professor of animal science at Iowa State, says one of the first major outreach efforts was a nutritional strategies webinar held April 21, in which animal science experts outlined the options for slowing down growth at the farm. 

Close to 300 people tuned in, with pork producers from across the country, along with nutritionists and veterinarians, and a second nutritional webinar was held May 28.

"Those efforts from Gabler, Patience and Greiner really turned a corner for the industry," says Ross. "It was such a rapid response and nationally effective.  Producers and nutritionists everywhere were seeking scientifically validated approaches with repeatable results, and they were getting it at the time it was needed."

Those efforts resulted in multiple collaborations between Iowa State nutritionists and industry partners.

Reaching harvest
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and Iowa Pork Producers Association launched the Resource Coordination Center, a multi-faceted effort to connect producers with industry experts, state agencies and technical specialists. The IPIC, along with faculty and staff from the college of veterinary medicine, ag engineering, economics, animal science and ISU Extension and Outreach all collaborated to contribute to help in the development and distribution critical information to producers.

By adjusting hog diets, increasing stocking densities, sorting or topping off pens, and finding additional temporary production facilities, producers not only extended their market window, but were also able to avoid the need for mass depopulation.

Specialists and faculty across Iowa State University were working on plans for depopulation that for the most part were never needed, thanks to the management guidance and the re-opening of packing plants.

Mental health
Even so, producers were feeling the stress of having to make big changes on the farm, and watch the market swing wildly at the same time.

On May 8, a Resilience in the Era of COVID-19 webinar was presented with David Brown, behavioral health specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach partnering with Cameron Schmitt from Pipestone Veterinary Services.

"It was, and still to a degree, remains a time of mental stress for many of our producers," Ross says. "Regardless of the scope of their business, it was a stressful time for all of them."

Recovery mindset
As producers began to think about recovery, the IPIC and IPPA joined together to offer four economic recovery webinars Aug. 19 through Sept. 9. Topics included evaluating hog supply agreements and contracts, the market outlook and evaluating the different tools of recovery.

"The Iowa Pork Industry Center was a critical component of our efforts to assist producers as we went through the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic," says Pat McGonegle, chief executive officer of IPPA.

The research on nutrition and extending pig production times was critical, as well as the concerns for animal welfare and pig health. McGonegle says the partnership with the IPIC played a critical role in restoring the market for producers, and also the overall food chain.

"The responsiveness and the effort by the staff at IPIC and IPPA was nothing short of phenomenal," he says. "The cooperation and the speed of cooperation … having those experts available, kept science at the forefront in a very fast timeframe."

Source: Iowa State University Extenstion and Outreach, 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.

4 lessons learned in starting pigs on feed

National Pork Board Weaned pigs in a pen

As a production system, how much time are you allotting per week, month or quarter on your plan to start pigs on feed? One of the most important phases of getting a pig to market is the transition of a weaned pig on to feed.

If you get the first day and or week of the transition on to feed wrong, you cost yourself a decreased number of grade-one pigs marketed, decreased final market weight, increased days on feed and increased medication costs. If you get the conversion on to feed right, you set the pig up correctly to maximize return over costs for the rest of the growing phase.

It is unmistakable to me that a production system should spend a significant amount of time in developing, executing and validating that the plan to transition pigs on to feed is done correctly every time. Thus, to build off the previous columns "lessons learned as a swine nutritionist during COVID-19" and "lessons learned as a production system's first nutritionist," this edition will pass on the four biggest lessons learned over the past three years in starting pigs on feed.

Lesson 1: Understand that coaching and communication are key
The first lesson I learned in how to successfully start weaned pigs on feed, is regardless of what plan or protocols you have in place, they must first be coached and communicated, clearly, concisely and often. The protocols and strategies need to be easily understood and applied. These protocols should be unable to be incorrectly interpreted. Furthermore, as referred to in previous editions of "lessons learned as a production system's first swine nutritionist," you must continuously re-coach these protocols and strategies. Do not assume that if you go over the protocol once it will be done correctly forever.

It is also helpful if you create a validation system to ensure that these protocols are being done correctly. Our team created a first 10-day-on-feed protocol checklist that is initialed daily by the primary caretaker and at the end of the period by the production manager. This assigns personal accountability on multiple levels to ensure that pigs are started on feed correctly. Validating if your protocols and strategies are being done correctly or not, will allow you to go forward with a better feed program and coaching plan.

Lesson 2: Understand the pig you are receiving
The second lesson I learned is you must understand the pig you are receiving. Not all weaned pigs are created equally. There are major biological differences between 17-, 21- and 24-day-old wean pigs. They must be fed differently to achieve the best outcome possible. The younger the pig when he or she is weaned the poorer its feed intake, digestive capability, enzymatic action, absorptive capacity and heat generation are. The younger pig needs a more nutrient-dense and digestible diet than its older contemporary. Furthermore, the younger pig has a lower feed intake and decreased body mass. Therefore, they need more supplementary heating to maximize their nutrient utilization and subsequent weight gain.

There are also major biological and feed intake differences among health statuses. If a pig is being weaned from a porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus-positive sow farm, its intake during the first week on feed is often 25% to 50% less than its PRRSV-negative counterparts. There is more evidence that these poor-intake pigs should not only be fed to their decreased nutrient intake but their different nutrient requirements.

Additionally, there are differences among health statuses in whether they will be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics do a great job of neutralizing harmful bacteria, but they will also eliminate microbiota populations associated with good gastrointestinal health. Thus, if antibiotics are likely to be used to mitigate bacterial pathogens (i.e., Streptococcus suis) you will likely need to support digestive health via minimizing undigested protein (increase quality of protein sources and increasing synthetic amino acid use), optimizing fermentable fiber and using probiotics.

Lesson 3: Understand what logistics will allow you to execute
Building on lessons 1 and 2, it is important to know what you can realistically execute at the mill and slat level when designing your starter feed program. In most of our feeding locations, we have the logistic capabilities to deliver different starter feeds and adjust our protocols to optimize starting pigs on feed based on the differences outlined in Lesson 2.

However, other systems may not be as logistically capable. It is important to know what you can change first at the mill level. Can your mill have multiple sets of starter formulations? What is the minimum volume they can manufacture? Can they handle different premixes, bases and or ingredients? Can they execute the program you want to design?

Next, it is important to know what you can execute at the slat level. Can you deliver specialty bagged feed to extend the feed budgets of younger or poor health pigs? If you can deliver this feed, can you coach your team to feed the correct amount to the desired pigs during the ideal period? These are important questions you must answer and continue to answer in designing your starter feed program.

Lesson 4: Understand that management of the environment and timely treatment/pulls are key
The last lesson that is important to understand is that there is more to starting pigs on feed than just having the correct formulation and feed management protocols. Environment and pig care are colossal parts of the equation.

Pigs must have a dry, thermoneutral environment in which they have plenty of airflow. Pigs must be sorted correctly initially. At AMVC, we categorize the bottom 10% and or any pigs below 17 days of age to feed and manage them differently. It is also important that pigs are pulled and sorted correctly post-placement. Ensure treatments are timely and that fallback pigs are placed in a social environment they can compete in.

Moreover, water intake cannot be ignored. We have learned that even the poorest pigs will consume water even if they do not eat. Being able to provide optimal water access (i.e., nipple bars or additional waterers) and supplement the water (with any electrolytes, nutrients or medications) as best as you can is key.

A simple and important key is just getting the pigs up as much as possible. When newly weaned pigs are stirred, they almost always eat and drink. Thus, if you can get pigs up by mat-feeding, gruel-feeding or just walking pens as frequently as possible the greater their feed, water and associated medication intake will be. An easy way to double the amount of time the newly placed pigs are getting up per day is to mat-feed and gruel-feed at the start and conclusion of doing chores. Thus, if the caretaker can only get through the barn in the morning and afternoon, at least the pigs have been gotten up at the minimum four times per day.

What I have ascertained is there are several keys to starting pigs on feed correctly. You must have a clear and coachable plan, understand the weaned pig you are receiving, understand what logistics will allow you to execute, and understand that there is more to starting pigs on feed than just having the optimal diet formulation.

I encourage your production system and yourself to assess how much time is allotted to starting pigs on feed, compute the success rate and conceptualize how we can improve our execution.

Source: Trey A. Kellner, 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. The opinions of this writer are not necessarily those of Farm Progress/Informa.

CME Group to launch pork cutout futures and options on Nov. 9

USDA Illustration: Understanding the pork cutout
Understanding the pork cutout

CME Group today announced it will launch Pork Cutout futures and options on Nov. 9, pending all relevant regulatory review periods.

"As the market has evolved, our customers continue to look for new tools to manage the price risk associated with hog and pork production," says Tim Andriesen, CME Group managing director of Agricultural Products. "The Pork Cutout futures and options are complementary to our Lean Hog contracts and will provide clients with the ability to manage risk and discover price from the hog all the way to the meat case."

Hogs are increasingly bought and sold in the physical market based on a formula which uses the cutout. The Pork Cutout reflects the approximate value of a hog calculated using the prices paid for wholesale cuts of pork. The values, or cuts, used to calculate the pork cutout include the loin, butt, picnic, rib, ham and belly. The new contracts reflect the price of the wholesale product after processing.

"The National Pork Producers Council welcomes the introduction of the new Pork Cutout trading vehicle," says NPPC President Howard "AV" Roth, a pork producer for Wauzeka, Wis. "We applaud CME Group for providing another risk management option, in addition to the Lean Hog contract, and for enhancing market visibility, which is so important to maintaining a highly competitive and innovative pork production system in the United States."

Pork Cutout futures and options will be financially-settled to the CME Pork Cutout Index, which is a five-business day weighted average of prices reported by the USDA and published in its "National Daily Pork Report Fob Plant — Negotiated Sales — Afternoon" report daily.

The new contracts will be quoted in U.S. cents per pound, will have a contract size of 40,000 pounds and will be available for trading on CME Globex or through block trades via CME ClearPort, and will be listed by and subject to the rules and regulations of CME.

Click here for more information on CME Group's Pork Cutout futures and options and the CME Pork Cutout Index.

As the world's leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, CME Group enables clients to trade futures, options, cash and OTC markets, optimize portfolios, and analyze data — empowering market participants worldwide to efficiently manage risk and capture opportunities. CME Group exchanges offer the widest range of global benchmark products across all major asset classes based on interest rates, equity indexes, foreign exchange, energy, agricultural products and metals. The company offers futures and options on futures trading through the CME Globex platform, fixed income trading via BrokerTec and foreign exchange trading on the EBS platform. In addition, it operates one of the world's leading central counterparty clearing providers, CME Clearing. With a range of pre- and post-trade products and services underpinning the entire lifecycle of a trade, CME Group also offers optimization and reconciliation services through TriOptima, and trade processing services through Traiana.

Source: CME Group, 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.

USDA announces National Pork Board appointments

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The USDA has announced the appointment of five members to the National Pork Board. All five appointees will serve three-year terms beginning June 2020 and ending June 2023.

The appointed members are:

  • Scott Phillips, Drexel, Mo.
  • Heather Hill, Greenfield, Ind.
  • Deb Ballance, Fremont, N.C.
  • Al Wulfekuhle, Quasqueton, Iowa
  • Todd Erickson, Northwood, N.D.

The National Pork Board is composed of 15 pork producers nominated by the National Pork Producers Delegate Body, which is made up of 143 producer and importer members.

The program was created and is administered under the authority of the Pork Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act of 1985. It became effective
Sept. 5, 1986, when the Pork Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Order was implemented. Assessments began Nov. 1, 1986.

More information about the board is available on the Agricultural Marketing Service NPB webpage and on the NPB website.

Since 1966, Congress has authorized the development of industry-funded research and promotion boards to provide a framework for agricultural industries to pool their resources and combine efforts to develop new markets, strengthen existing markets and conduct important research and promotion activities. AMS provides oversight of 21 boards, paid for by industry assessments, which helps ensure fiscal accountability and program integrity.

Source: USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, 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.

Challenging year for U.S. pork exports to Colombia, but improving

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Since the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement entered into force in 2012, Colombia has emerged as a leading importer of U.S. pork and a promising market for U.S. beef. Last year shipments of U.S. pork to Colombia reached nearly 100,000 metric tons valued at $222 million, while beef exports set a new record of 6,724 metric tons valued at $26 million. But 2020 has been a very challenging year for exports to Colombia, due mainly to COVID-19 related restrictions on economic activity but also compounded by a loss in value for the Colombian peso.  

Don Mason, U.S. Meat Export Federation representative in Colombia, says restaurants and other foodservice operations were hit hard by COVID-19 restrictions, but activity is gradually beginning to return.

"Been a challenging year for meat imports into Colombia, but those meat importers are starting to make some good progress in the last couple of months," Mason says. "Even before COVID hit, they started off with exchange rate issues, closing out 2019 and coming into 2020, the dollar went way up and that started impacting importers' ability to price product, and then of course, COVID came along.

"It's been a long haul for Colombia. They had complete or partial lockdowns really from March clear through Sept. 1, a severe impact on food service. Of course, restaurants completely shut down for a long stretch in there and then they were able to do walk up and home delivery and that sort of thing. There was an initial serious impact on retail as well, but that situation has much improved and some of the food service product has actually been redirected into that retail stream."

Mason says many Colombian companies also recognized they needed to change their point of sale activities, online presence and brand promotions, and they've come to USMEF for assistance.

"We've been able to help them, stepping up their game," Mason says. "We've actually helped some of the businesses that didn't even have an online presence, build out an online presence and help them with their delivery services."

Colombia's meat processing sector is a major user of U.S. pork raw material and continues to be a "bright spot," says Mason. Some facilities are facing some labor-related challenges, but are managing to operate at or near full capacity.

"Processors in Colombia took a short dip, but recovered quite quickly and they're producing hotdogs and lower cost protein options that consumers are snapping up," Mason says. "They did have some challenges, but by and large, our major importers that use our product for processing have actually had pretty good success of keeping their plants running. They've had some lockdowns that impacted how workers can get to work and so on, but early on in the process, meat processors in Colombia were categorized as high priority industries."

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.