By Matt Reese
There was record attendance at the Ohio Pork Congress held in Lima in February. Visitors had the chance to hear from a wide array of speakers, visit a packed trade show and celebrate success with fellow pork producers.
“Looking ahead to 2023, our industry faces challenges, however, the Ohio pork industry is filled with great leaders from top to bottom,” said Nick Seger, Ohio Pork Council president from Shelby County. “The big wins we’ve had don’t mean the fight to protect our industry is over, but I am confident we can use this momentum rise to the occasion to overcome and adapt.”
Cheryl Day, executive vice president of the Ohio Pork Council, provided an overview of priorities and successes for the organization including securing funding for meat processing grants and animal protein for foodbanks, supporting H2Ohio, pushing for science over emotion in the western Lake Erie Basin watershed, and addressing misconceptions about pork production. Day also highlighted the addition of Saydee Baughman to the staff as an office manager and the hiring of Mike King, Sr., Director of Communications and Public Relations for the Ohio Pork Council.
Bryan Humphreys, CEO of the National Pork Producers Council, gave an overview of key issues for the nation’s pork industry.
“First and foremost, here in Ohio, is the prevention of foreign animal diseases like African swine fever and the amount of discussion going on in the industry about products like AgView that the National Pork Board is putting together to help producers,” Humphreys said. “We are also lobbying for things like the Beagle Brigade, the vaccine banks and things we’re doing in D.C. as we gear up for the farm bill. There are a lot of topics out there but the threat of foreign animal diseases like African swine fever or foot and mouth disease are always prevalent.”
AgView is a free, opt-in technology solution from the National Pork Board that helps producers of all sizes provide disease status updates and pig movement data to state animal health officials. The Beagle Brigade has been a unique effort employing trained dogs for work in airports to sniff out items, including pork products, that are not permitted to enter the country to reduce risks of transferring foreign animal diseases. NPPC recently got to learn more about the Beagle Brigade on a trip to Atlanta.
“I had the fortune of taking some of our producers down to Atlanta where they trained the beagles that work in the airports and at ports of entry to scan passengers coming in for products like pork products coming in,” Humphreys said. “How they train those dogs is truly magnificent and it’s something to behold, but it was really neat to watch how passionate the folks at USDA APHIS as well as the Customs and Border Protection are about their jobs and what they do every day. Our hope is that we can get additional beagles and continue to work through with the Beagle Brigade Act that we’re continuing to push in Washington, D.C. to to get them the resources they need to be effective at preventing those diseases from coming in.”
U.S. pork exports, as always, were also a discussion topic at Ohio Pork Congress.
“The final numbers are coming in for 2022 and it looks like about $7.7 billion worth of exports for the U.S. pork industry to just right around 100 countries. It was a good year, but obviously the geopolitical situations, the strength of the dollar and inflation impacted us a little bit,” he said. “We’ve been higher with exports before and we look to continue to work on that. Our hope is that the president and the administration continue to work through and make trade a focus and work on access issues for not only the U.S. pork industry, but for all of agriculture.”