U.S. Pork Industry: Are We Truly Stronger Together?

( Jennifer Shike )

Has there ever been a time where the old saying, “we’re stronger together,” rang more true? 

For Pat Duncanson, a pig farmer from Mapleton, Minn., a strong team and good communication is helping his operation weather these challenging times a little easier.

“I have been very lucky that I've got some key relationships that I count on. And those relationships today are also very valuable. One of them is great employees that help me so that I can spend less time worrying about day-to-day functions of the barn and the logistics that need to happen there,” he says. 

Those strong relationships built on trust allow him to spend more time looking at bigger picture things including marketing and hedging, feed rations and rising market weights. 

Steve Meyer, an economist with Kerns and Associates, says getting your team together is the most important thing producers can do now. Whether it’s talking to your banker, your marketing adviser, your employees or your hog buyers, it’s important to talk through your plan.

“Use this as an opportunity to look at how you manage risk with your team,” advises Christine McCracken, Rabobank senior analyst – animal protein. “There are opportunities in the current market to limit losses and producers must continue to evaluate all options to reduce risk. You may not make a ton of money, but you may lose less.”

Take advantage of lower cost of production and maintain herd health, she says. Don’t let biosecurity take a backseat during these times. 

“Take another looking at planned projects, some may need to be pushed back for now. Economic conditions have changed and we are a lot more cautious on the long term outlook today than we were even a few months ago. Aside from that and working with your packer, there’s not a lot more you can change in the short run,” she says.

Meyer emphasizes one thing you can always do is take care of people. 

“Make sure you have somebody on your team with a counseling or mental health background,” Meyer says. “This is real pressure. And especially for those who are asking team members to destroy animals – there are going to be some real psychological and emotional situations that you need to get in front of.”

There’s no better time than now to check in on your neighbors, he adds.

“You might be in good shape, but you may have a neighbor that isn't. So, let's take care of one another the best we can,” Meyer says.

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