Pork Commentary: Iowa Pork Congress Report

US - Last week was the Iowa Pork Congress held annually in Des Moines Iowa, writes Jim Long President, CEO of Genesus Inc.
calendar icon 3 February 2015
clock icon 4 minute read

In Mr Long's report, he highighted:

  • Iowa is the largest hog-producing state in the United States.

  • The Iowa Pork Congress is by far the largest and most attended winter swine exhibition attracting producers from not only Iowa but multiple other states.

  • Attitude of producers was good, which obviously was from 2014, a year of record profits.

  • Attitude good but wary as lean hogs in the 60’s means no money is being made currently.

  • There were many discussions about future prices. Producers in this industry are the survivors of many hog cycles. They have seen many times of financial losses, on cycle lows. They are wary.

  • On the flip side of concern are the new sow units being built. A new sow farm here a new sow farm there. Already discussions of tight finishing barn space by summer? New barns seem to be mostly 5,000 each. If 40 are built, adds 200,000 sows. Will all the talk become reality? Are lean hogs in the 60’s going to scare some barns away? We think so, but we expect many will be completed. More pigs are coming.

  • Last year at Iowa Pork Congress PEDV was hitting hard. This year if discussed, it was because it is not a factor. PEDV is not killing many pigs right now.

  • The US Seaport worker slowdown was a topic of discussion as pork export orders are being delayed by labor action. There are many who believe and we concur these shipping issues are hurting US pork prices. Hopefully the issue will get resolved soon.

  • At the Iowa Pork Congress the trend evolving for different programmes to produce pork was noticeable whether it be antibiotic free, alternate housing, pork quality focus on ph, marbling and colour. Lots of programs, lots of options. Interesting the niche alternatives being implemented. Hopefully more choice for the consumer will lead to increased pork demand, leading to higher pork prices.

  • Interesting discussions about the new hog plant being built in Coldwater, Michigan, by the Hadfield-Clemens Group. With a reported capacity of 10,000 a day, some wondered how this will affect the Eastern Corn Belt market. It appears that there are no surplus hogs in the area currently? Obviously there will be a shift in destinations. One option depending on country of origin labelling (COOL) status, hogs could come from Ontario. 20,000 to 25,000 a week are currently taking a 10-hour ride to Quebec plants. Coldwater is five hours from much of Ontario’s production. With the Canadian dollar in free fall now under 80? to the US dollar, a US hog pull could happen.

  • The shift in sow housing in the US was very obvious at the Pork Expo. There appears to be a battle between ESF and open access stalls happening. Not sure if it’s VHS versus Betamax but certainly interesting. In Europe we see a near equal split. It will be interesting if the RFD systems being tried to open access stalls will be adopted by the US industry.


Iowa Pork Congress was well attended, well organized, and a great success. Producers are positive but wary. Expansion is underway.

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