SHELDON, Iowa -- Continuing poor economic conditions are taking a toll on pork producers, and many are looking for information as they face difficult choices in their operations. Iowa State University (ISU) Extension swine field specialist Dave Stender and ISU Extension farm management specialist Tom Olsen are coordinating a Swine Transition Seminar to help provide information, assistance and resources to producers.
The seminar is set for Aug. 5 in Building C at Northwest Community College in Sheldon. Cost is $15 per person or $20 per couple and includes materials and meals. The registration fee is partially subsidized by sponsors Iowa Pork Industry Center (IPIC,) Iowa Pork Producers Association and ISU Extension. People are asked to register early to ensure an accurate meal count. For more information or to preregister, call Dave Stender at (712) 225-6196 or (712) 261-0225. A brochure describing the program in more detail is available at www.ipic.iastate.edu.
“Never before has the hog-corn ratio been so low for so long resulting in unprecedented financial losses,” Stender said. “The outlook for prices remains weak because world demand for pork is still soft. Some producers have responded with sow cutbacks and inventory reduction, while others buy existing operations at a reduced price to keep them going.”
Olsen said current circumstances are contributing to pressure on producers, suppliers and lenders, and decisions can be difficult.
“Long-standing networks of producers, owners, contractors, and managers are under stress. Many are being forced to consider new arrangements,” he said. “This seminar will address the options and opportunities for producers.”
The seminar has two tracks: one for ownership options for sows and buildings, and one for producers who want to continue in their existing system on a long term basis. Registration is at 9:30 a.m., with the keynote presentation by ISU agricultural economist John Lawrence at 10 a.m. The tracks run concurrently from 10:30 a.m. to about 3: 45 p.m.
Track one will examine the management expertise needed to own pigs, and offer some guidance on how a group of producers might work together.
“On one hand sow unit shares are available,” Stender said. “While another group of producers facing empty barns and reduced payments is looking for a new pig source.”
Track one speakers are Lawrence, Stender and ISU swine nutrition associate professor John Patience. Speakers in track two are Stender, Patience and IPIC director John Mabry.
Track two will look at traditional ways to reduce cost in a sow unit. Also, this track will present a non-traditional approach of reducing a producer’s sow herd while minimizing the negative impact of reduced throughput. Discussion in this session will include financially modeling increased weaning weight and subsequent finishing performance, disease clean-up, light birth weight pigs, designing rations for feed cost efficiency and other possible scenarios, Stender said.
A third optional session is designed specifically for contract growers who are facing changes in their current contracts. This session will run from 4 to 8 p.m. Discussion topics include content of a good contract, legal issues, insurance, liability, responsibility and the value of manure. Speakers are Lawrence, Olsen, Stender and ISU Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation legal consultant Erin Herbold.