World Pork Expo is back by growers, but industry faces uncertain future

The World Pork Expo, organized by the National Pork Producers Council, is the world’s largest pork trade fair. The three-day event kicked off June 9 at the Iowa Fairgrounds.

The 2019 event was canceled due to African swine fever and last year’s exhibition was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

NPPC President Jen Sorenson opened her address at a press conference kicking off the World Pork Expo on Wednesday morning, saying it was a pleasure to be back at the event, which presents the latest developments in the pork industry, but that work needs to be done to secure the future of the industry.

“American pork producers have a number of short-term challenges and priorities, including a Federal Court ruling which, if implemented later this month, will cause enormous harm to hog producers. across the country, ”Sorenson said.

Sorenson was referring to a the Federal Court’s decision to strike a provision of the USDA’s new pig inspection system, allowing for faster harvesting facility line speeds. The NSIS was launched under the Clinton administration and evaluated in five pilot plants over 20 years and was approved for industry-wide adoption in 2019.

National Pork Producers Council President Jen Sorenson speaks at a press conference to kick off the World Pork Expo on June 9 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.  (Noah Fish / Agweek)

National Pork Producers Council President Jen Sorenson speaks at a press conference to kick off the World Pork Expo on June 9 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. (Noah Fish / Agweek)

According to the NPPC, the order, which takes effect on June 29, would reduce the capacity of factories at six factories operating at NSIS line speeds by up to 25%.

“Small pig farmers will disproportionately bear the brunt of the tribunal’s impact, undermining competition from the pork industry,” NPPC said in a statement.

Terry Wolters, the president-elect of the NPPC, along with his wife, owns Stoney Creek Farms in Pipestone, Minnesota, where they own several sow farms. He operates a calf-weaning business, marketing 28,000 pigs per year, manages a 2,400 head research finisher and grows corn and soybeans.

Wolters said the World Pork Expo was a huge fundraiser for the NPPC and that canceling the event over the past two summers was difficult for the organization, but something that needs to be done.

“It was a really tough decision for the board not to host, but at the same time we were very concerned about what was going on in the world,” Wolters said of the 2019 and 2020 shows. protect our borders and protect our industry from a herd health perspective. “

An exhibit at the World Pork Expo trade show, hosted by the National Pork Producers Council, June 9 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.  (Noah Fish / Agweek)

An exhibit at the World Pork Expo trade show, organized by the National Pork Producers Council, on June 9 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. (Noah Fish / Agweek)

He said the general vibe at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on the first day of the show was positive, but safety was always a top priority.

“It’s really good to be back, but I mean everyone is very careful,” he said. “You have an industry that is very dynamic right now, we know big markets and profitability is on the rise. “

Pork producers are grateful to be in this position, he said, after several years of declining export markets due to tariffs, and then last year when the pandemic reduced supply. harvest and particularly affected the industry.

“So the last three years have been a bit difficult, and we are certainly thankful and appreciate the opportunity we have today,” Wolters said. “Around the fairground here, it’s very optimistic with the producers, and I think the producers like to be with other producers and learn from each other.”



Of the two nation-wide priorities at the forefront at the World Pork Expo for Wolters, who represents Minnesota on the NPPC board of directors, the former receives an urgent appeal of the federal district court’s decision overturning the faster speeds of harvesting facilities. .

“In terms of the bigger impact for Minnesota, it’s this line speed issue we’re facing,” Wolters said.

He said if the federal district court ruling is upheld, it would have a significant impact on Hormel’s pork processing plant in Austin, Minnesota, as well as the WholeStone Farms plant in Fremont, Neb. WholeStone Farms purchased the Hormel plant in 2018, but continues a close sourcing partnership with the owners. Wolters said these two factories are still “owned by the producer.”

According to Dermot Hayes, an economist at Iowa State University, if the decision is not overturned by the June 29 deadline, it would result in a 2.5% loss of capacity at pork packing plants across the board. national level and $ 82.3 million in reduced income for hog producers.

“But the biggest concern is in southwestern and southern Minnesota, because we have a lot of hogs going to this plant in Austin and this plant in Fremont, so we’re going to see a 25% reduction.” , Wolters said.

He said the sense of urgency for the USDA to publicly support a stay of the order – at least – is now high, with less than 30 days to respond.

“The pipeline is full of pigs and that’s going to create a problem,” he said.

The second priority concern that Wolters says is urgent is Proposition 12, which was approved by California voters in 2018 and is expected to be implemented in early 2022.

Proposition 12 prohibits the sale of uncooked pork from states where sows do not have pens measuring at least 24 square feet in California. This would apply to any Midwestern farmer who wants to sell a product in California.

The problem right now, Wolters said, is that producers are trying to comply with regulations that have yet to be fully drafted.

“More importantly, you have a state that’s going to dictate how we in the Midwest are to produce pork for consumption in their state,” he said. “But at this point, (Californians) account for 15% of pork consumption in the United States, and we need to be aware of that.”

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