COVID-19 impact on swine industry headlines 2020 virtual Leman Conference

COVID-19’s global-altering tentacles reached the 2020 Allen D. Leman Swine Conference scheduled Sept. 19-22. This year’s conference will be held virtually. In addition, COVID-19 will be among the keynote topics discussed by swine veterinarians, producers and industry leaders.
calendar icon 31 August 2020
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“We made the decision in May to go virtual because of the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, and it’s been the right decision,” explained program chair Montserrat Torremorell, DVM, PhD, professor at the University of Minnesota.

“We wanted to make sure we still had the conference because it’s important to facilitate discussions about some of the issues that occurred and to be prepared for what’s coming next,” Torremorell told Pig Health Today.

“We also wanted to maintain our same guiding principles for the conference and offer tangible take-home messages for producers, veterinarians and industry experts,” she added.

Some of the hot issues on the program are price discovery in the hog market, the unprecedented challenges COVID-19 placed on veterinarians and producers, capturing added value in production and an effective response to foreign animal diseases.

The virtual platform offers key benefits to attendees including no travel, programs available online afterwards including translations, and chat features allowing interaction with the audience. Farm Progress, part of Informa PLC, will administer the conference’s virtual platform.

Registration fees are reduced for the virtual conference. An individual registration is $250 through Aug. 30 and $300 starting Aug. 31. For registration and conference details, visit

Torremorell hopes anyone interested in the conference will register soon and take advantage of this new virtual format.

The Leman Conference will follow its typical programming format with keynote speakers and breakout sessions on Monday and Tuesday. Pre-conference workshops are scheduled Saturday and Sunday.

Keynote sessions

Four keynote lectures Monday morning focus on COVID-19 — deficiencies revealed in the industry, the industry’s response and lessons learned. Speakers include Mark Greenwood with Compeer Financial; Bill Kaelin with McVean Trading and Investments; Paul Yeske, DVM, Swine Vet Center; and Dave Preisler, Minnesota Pork Board.

A Tuesday morning keynote lecture presented by The Hanor Company discusses strategies to capture value from the farm to the table. Speakers include Myrl Mortenson, president; David Wade, vice president of operations; and Tara Donovan, DVM, vice president of health management.

Also speaking Tuesday morning is Hormel veterinarian Michelle Kromm who will share her high-pathogenic avian influenza and COVID-19 response experiences. She is also vice president of animal health and welfare at Jennie O.

The conference will end Tuesday with a special wrap-up conversation on COVID-19 and African swine fever. Two industry leaders, Clayton Johnson, DVM, Carthage Veterinary Clinic, and Gordon Spronk, DVM, Pipestone System, will also reflect on where we go from here. Peter Davies, DVM, University of Minnesota, will moderate.

Other program highlights

The popular breakout sessions cover a variety of topics in this year’s virtual conference. Some of the topics are porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus, Streptococcus suis, batch farrowing, African swine fever, precision pork production and labor.

Pre-conference workshops include the management of water, using next-generation sequencing technologies for diagnostics, predicting between-farm disease transmission, an update on the pig survivability project and biosecurity.

Social events are also planned on the virtual program, including the Welcome and Poster Reception on Sunday evening, which features Chef Justin Sutherland who competed in Top Chef season 16. He will share an exclusive pork recipe and “how-to” video. Conference attendees will also celebrate the industry mission to feed the world through a fundraising event with donations to Second Harvest Heartland.

The Zoetis Virtual Science in Practice Reception is scheduled Monday late afternoon. During this session, attendees will have the opportunity to interact with this year’s Leman Science in Practice Recipient, Clayton Johnson, DVM, Carthage Veterinary Clinic. On Tuesday, attendees will wake up with a wellness session.

For more information on the Allen D. Leman Swine Conference, click here.

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