PRIMGHAR, Iowa — There are many issues facing swine producers these days, but risk is nothing new to a pork producer.
Feed Prices – Market fluctuations for feed stuffs and market price for the pig has always been there and continues to pressure pork production. Currently, feedstuff prices are troubling as corn prices are relatively high, even considering the large corn crop this fall.
PRRS – A new strain of the disease called PRRS (porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome) has been exceptionally difficult on swine producers this year.
African Swine Fever – Within 100 miles of the U.S. is a terrible swine disease called African Swine Fever.
Readers and pork consumers, please note – African Swine Fever does not affect meat safety or quality. African Swine Fever is exclusively a pig disease and has no impact on the meat. Pork meat is still safe to eat. That is the good news.
The bad news is if this disease crosses the border and infects swine herds in the US, our trading partners will likely stop importing our pork to protect their swine herds. An economic study suggests that if we lose our export status, the economic fallout would be big. Because we export over 25 percent of our pork, the total economic loss could be over 10 billion dollars. The extra pork on the domestic market would sell at a very low price dragging down the price of beef and chicken, too. After the swine liquidation because of the disease, the price of corn and soybeans will likely drop as the demand to feed swine herds diminishes.
Hopefully, the African Swine Fever virus will not infect our swine herd, but producers are encouraged to get ready for this potential disruption by developing a secure pork supply plan that includes enhanced biosecurity efforts and movement records.
California Proposition 12 – In addition to the threat of African Swine Fever, producers are thinking about Proposition 12 passed by the state of California and scheduled to become law in 2022. This proposition requires pork sold to California to meet certain specifications. Unfortunately, the conversion cost to comply to these specifications is significant. Although remodeling is happening in the industry, it is unknown how much the meat supply chain to California will be impacted.
Not only do producers need to remodel the facilities to comply, but a new management for breeding and taking care of gestating sows must be adopted as well. There could be court cases that change the need for compliance for producers outside of California, but that is a wait-and-see outcome. In the meantime, as producers try to remodel their facilities, they are facing increased cost and supply chain issues, first for lumber and now for steel products.
Labor – Labor issues are another concern, not only to fully staff swine farms, but also at the harvest plants. Producers are hoping scheduling delivery does not back up much during the late fall, but finding reliable labor is definitely an issue in the swine production and processing industries.
The Good News – One highlight is that area farms are doing well with efficient production. Swine producers are always improving and doing their best to produce high-quality and safe pork for consumers.
Area sow farm managers, an upcoming learning opportunity is the Sow Summit to be held in Ames on December 8. Created for producers who face ongoing challenges, this one-day conference offers producers the opportunity to hear from swine industry experts on practical solutions to those challenges. Visit https://ipicsowsummit.org/ for more information. I hope to see you there!
— Dave Stender, Swine Specialist, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach