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This Week's Pig Industry News

11 June 2012, at 11:24pm

ANALYSIS - Two major international events for the pig industry were held last week, both attended by editors of ThePigSite, writes senior editor, Jackie Linden.For three days, Des Moines, Iowa, USA, became the ‘pig capital’ of the world, hosting the annual World Pork Expo, which included a range of interesting seminars as well as busy exhibition areas and there was a hive of activity in the show arenas, which attracted entrants from farming families across the country.On the other side of the Atlantic, meanwhile, the World Meat Congress was held this year in the French capital, Paris, attended by more than 700 delegates from the global meat industry.

Official figures have not yet been released but the projections of nearly 20,000 pork producers and industry experts from 38 countries visiting the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa, US, last week look likely to have been reached, if not exceeded. Exhibitors at the event, organised by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), reported a steady flow of visitors to the main hall.

A new study from the University of Missouri shows that US producers have a long way to go towards total loose housing for sows, if that is the way they choose to go. A survey covering more than 60 per cent of the nation’s sows on larger units reveals that just 17 per cent of US sows are currently loose-housed during pregnancy. In the light of recent announcements from restaurant and retail chains about their commitment to supply product for a ‘stall-free’ future, much work and investment will be needed to maintain pork supplies in the country.

The US had record pork exports in 2011 and very strong exports in the first quarter of 2012. However, currency exchange issues and fewer exports to China will make 2012 a more challenging year, according to R.C. Hunt, President of the NPPC, at a press conference at the World Pork Expo. He said that the future of the US pork industry depends on free and fair trade and the continued expansion of exports. He pointed out that in 2011 the US exported a record of $6.1 billion in pork, accounting for 27 per cent of all pork produced in the country.

As pigs are very sensitive to temperature extremes, the amount of in-transit bedding used during cold, mild and hot weather presents welfare issues. Avi Sapkota, a Texas Tech University PhD student, presented the results of a study at the Expo.

Also at the World Pork Expo, NPPC was vocal about its opposition to the proposed Egg Bill, which would set federal standards for minimum space size per hen, because of the precedent it sets for all animal agriculture.

Also held last week was the World Meat Congress in Paris, France. The congress, attended by more than 700 delegates from around the world, was opened by the International Meat Secretariat president, Arturo Llavallol, who stressed the importance of sustainability for the future of the global meat industry.

The global meat industry has two main challenges – to meet the growing world demand for food and the challenge to meet environmental concerns.

France’s new Agriculture Minister, Stephane Le Foll, at the opening of the Congress, called on the meat industry to face up to the challenges.

The upsurge of African Swine Fever, particularly in Russia, and the failure of conventional prevention and control measures to counter its spread have underlined the need for a major shift in approach. Dr Klaus Dietze, Animal Health Officer from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN outlined the need for urgent action.

The International Meat Secretariat is to join forces with the FAO to establish global standards to assess the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions caused by livestock production.