US - Many of the formal seminars as well as informal discussions at the World Pork Expo last week made at least mention of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PED), which has been raging in the US for more than a year, causing losses estimated at seven million pigs and still counting. If it were not for relatively low feed prices and strong pig prices - resulting from a combination of the prospect of a supply shortage and growing exports - the US pork industry would be in serious trouble.
The biggest news story from the Expo was the announcement by US Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, that reporting of PED and porcine deltacoronavirus is to be mandatory. He also announced funds of over US$26.2 million to combat these diseases.
President of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), Dr Howard Hill, has stressed that, despite reduced hog numbers resulting from PED, there will be ample supplies of pork this summer.
At a conference entitled 'PEDv is Speaking: Are We Listening?' Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc. invited leading pig veterinarians, researchers and disease pathologists to provide an update on PED, recent industry collaborations, research efforts, diagnostic and management tools and field observations on the impact of the disease in Midwest production systems.
Three concepts - choice, transparency and integrity - distinguish the relationship that US pork producers have with their customers, Dallas Hockman, vice president of industry relations for the NPPC, told a press conference at the World Pork Expo. He added that producers have always had a good relationship with meat buyers in the US but the effort now is to engage the top level corporate managers in the retail and food service industries.
Looking beyond the national borders, Dr Hayes of Iowa State University expressed his optimism about US pork export opportunities at another Expo event.
Clearly dedicated to educating others about pork production, Jon Hoek (Vice President of Pig Production, Belstra Milling Company) spoke at the Expo about The Pig Adventure, a working pig farm and agro-tourism destination in Fair Oaks, Indiana.
Also announced officially at World Pork Expo was a merger of two pig genetics companies. TOPIGS International and Norsvin International AS have merged their international activities to form a new company, Topigs Norsvin.
Top image via Shutterstock