What’s the Biggest Game Changer in the 2020 Pork Outlook?

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African swine fever and tariffs continue to be on readers’ minds going into 2020, according to the most recent PORK poll. 

Keeping disease out should be the No. 1 priority for every producer, says Rabobank senior analyst Christine McCracken.

“Stay diligent on maintaining exceptionally tight biosecurity controls,” she says. “A big part of keeping foreign animal diseases such as ASF out (of our herd) is a function of those import controls and processes at the border. But there’s only so much those processes can do – if something gets into the country, you have to keep it out of your operation.”

The poll results showed 44% of respondents naming ASF as the biggest game changer in the 2020 pork outlook. Not too far behind in the votes were tariffs and export opportunities at 23% and oversupply of hogs at 21%.

Although market volatility, feed cost and labor accounted for a combined 13% of the votes, experts caution these factors shouldn’t be overlooked. 

Jobs are not being filled in some packing plants and with the expected growth ahead, something will need to change soon, says Len Steiner, president of Steiner Consulting Group. The severe shortage of workers on the farm isn’t going away anytime soon.

Using risk management tools is going to be important in 2020, experts say. Kent Bang of Compeer Financial encourages producers to identify what they’ve learned from their 2019 strategy. Did it work? If not, why not? 

“How are you improving your risk management?” Bang asks. ”There is huge value in a written risk management strategy and then evaluating how you executed that strategy the past year and determining the changes that need to be made going forward.”

Check out porkbusiness.com to participate in our PORK polls and let us know what you think about issues relating to the pork industry.

More from Farm Journal’s PORK:
Pork Outlook: Don’t Let Your Guard Down in 2020

Money Matters: Better Profit Outlook Ahead for Pork Producers