The Iowa Pork Congress is a great time to reconnect with friends – producers, agri-business personnel, university and government folks and other media representatives – and it’s a great barometer of how producers across the country feel about the pork industry.
Here are five impressions from the show thus far:
1. No weather issues: Although northwest Iowa was hit by a deluge of snow earlier this week, it hasn’t seemed to deter attendance to the show. There was a good crowd yesterday throughout the day and I anticipate a good showing today as well.
2. Positive attitude: As Steve Meyer, an economist with Kerns & Associates said yesterday, producers seem to be pinching themselves with their good fortune of strong export markets, good domestic demand, low input prices and new market outlets for pigs. While other entities within agriculture might be struggling, the pork industry is doing well.
3. New businesses and products: Fewer producers continue to raise more pigs, but I’m always amazed at the new products, services and technologies I see at the Iowa Pork Congress. It’s a sign of a vibrant industry with opportunity for growth.
4. Don’t take your good fortune for granted: Any number of components could change the outlook very quickly. Dr. Jim Roth with Iowa State University talked about what would happen if we were to have a foreign animal disease outbreak in the U.S. He said Foot and Mouth disease is endemic in 96 countries – more countries have the disease than don’t have it. He stressed the need for a vaccine bank, and upgrades to the country’s diagnostic labs.
5. Talking politics and NAFTA: Jim Wiesemeyer, Washington Policy Analyst at Pro Farmer is always fun to listen to. He covered a multitude of topics, with lots of good quotes, like this one: “I think I understand Trump, but that will only last between now and the end of my presentation.” He also said what many people think: “I like what Trump is doing – I just don’t like the way he does it.” We’ll have a follow-up article with more opinions from Jim next week.
Unlike some past Iowa Pork Congresses, the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the outlook is rosy (if nothing changes) for pork producers.