Banff Seminar Urged to Learn from Challenge of Change

CANADA - There was one stand-out theme for the Banff Pork Seminar 2013: change and how to the pig industry can tackle the challenges.
calendar icon 24 January 2013
clock icon 4 minute read

Each year, the Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) organizing committee sits down to pick out a theme for the upcoming seminar.

Usually this involve a lot of discussion but this past year, reports Meristem Land and Science, there was one consistent message that came up, Don Down. BPS chair told the seminar opening. That message was "Change was upon us."

Consider these points, he says.

Don Down
  • The already high price of corn was on the rise due to drought conditions in much of the US Corn Belt. What change would this bring? How many producers would say this is enough?
  • The beginning of liquidation of sow herds forced the markets down even further. Many producers were seeing losses of $60/market hog. What changes would this bring?
  • The trend to increased consolidation, ongoing for a few years now intensified this year with many smaller farms deciding to be contract growers for bigger producers.
  • The trend to increased integration intensified this past year with some larger production systems becoming part of a pork value chain.
  • Following the changes in production systems we have seen increased consolidation in the feed industry across Canada.
  • These changes have made some companies bigger. Many of the people have left the industry or have taken on different roles.
  • The pressure to remove gestation stalls increased significantly in 2012. Almost every week another retailer announced their desire to use pork from farms not using gestation stalls
  • And if all this wasn't enough, activist groups have begun to be more aggressive in our industry and made a significant move in Manitoba this fall. What changes will this lead to?

Yes change is upon us and it is not easy, says Mr Down. That's why the theme of this year's seminar was 'The Challenge of Change'.

"This is my third year on the advisory committee and my first year as Chairman of the seminar. I have nothing but admiration for everyone in this room and many more across Canada who are dedicated to supporting the pork production industry.

"We are here this week as an industry to listen, learn and plan for change. We are a resilient bunch and we will no doubt take it on and move forward."

Mr Down paid tribute to his BPS Organizing Committee, representing a broad sector of industry perspectives and geographic regions. They include Michel Vignola, Nutreco, Quebec; Cam Farrell, Paragon Farms, Ontario; Steffen Klink, PIC Manitoba; Nancy Lidster, DNL Farms Saskatchewan; Ruurd Zijlstra, University of Alberta; BPS Program Director; Heather Ball, University of Alberta, BPS Coordinator; Michael Dyck, University of Alberta; Geoff Geddes, Alberta Pork; Ron Gietz, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development; Bob Kemp, Genesus Inc.; Martin Bowman, Verus Alliance; Dawn Magrath, Innovative Veterinary Services Inc.; and Ruth Ball, Crocus Conference Services, all from Alberta.

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