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National Hog Farmer Weekly Preview
October 31, 2011
In this issue:
  Scary Things that Could Derail Pork Profits
  Charting Respiratory Disease Diagnostic Strategies
  USDA Outlines Farm Bill Priorities
  Comment Period Open for CAFO Reporting Rule

Scary Things that Could Derail Pork Profits
By Steve Meyer, Paragon Economics, Inc., Des Moines, IA

In honor of Halloween, I think it is only fitting to write about scary things today. I realize that doing so does not fit with my eternally rosy and optimistic outlook on the world (sarcasm), but there are some things we need to keep in mind regarding markets as we move forward.

In no particular order, here are a few items that scare me about hog production profit prospects in the coming 12 to 18 months:

A trade disruption that would leave any significant portion of the 22% or so of U.S. production that will be exported this year. Slippage of a few percentage points would not be a disaster, but anything over 4% would, in my estimation, cause a lot of difficulties, depending on the length of the disruption. The good news is that the probability of a larger disruption is pretty low, but after travelling to Wales last week to visit my son I am keenly aware of the volume of international travel and the risk that it entails for the U.S. livestock sector. We must be very vigilant – perhaps to excess in some cases – to protect our domestic livestock sectors. While the probability may be low, the impact would be huge!

Something that negatively impacts U.S. consumer-level pork demand. There are several candidates for this one – a food safety issue, another bout of H1N1 or a mutated influenza virus, or a new furor over health concerns of a widely used process. None of them would be good and domestic demand, though slowing a bit lately, has been a big driver of 2011 success. Plus, I believe domestic pork demand is about to get a shot in the arm from higher beef and chicken prices. Anything that negatively impacts consumer preferences for pork would wash that positive impact away quickly. Outside of H1N1, we have been pretty fortunate – relative to beef (0157 E. coli), chicken and turkey (salmonella, bird flu). I hope it stays that way.


Charting Respiratory Disease Diagnostic Strategies
By Jerry Torrison, DVM and Marie Gramer, DVM; University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

Selecting the right test is important for obtaining accurate results when attempting to diagnose influenza or other diseases in pigs. Choosing the right sample and test depends on the timing of sample collection relative to when the pigs were infected. Since we don’t know precisely when individual pigs become infected, we have to rely on clinical signs to provide some clues to guide our approach.

A generic timeline for the clinical course of a respiratory disease is shown in Figure 1. The timing of this clinical course varies for different swine diseases. For example, the starting and ending of the clinical signs can occur at quite different times depending on the disease. Understanding the specific dynamics of the clinical course for a particular disease is an important first step in developing a diagnostic plan.

There are several terms that we use to describe the different phases of the clinical infection. The term "antigen" refers to the disease agent (e.g. bacteria or virus) that causes the disease. In the case of swine influenza, the antigen is the influenza virus.

Immediately after infection, the antigen cannot be detected because it hasn’t multiplied in the host yet. This phase before the antigen can be detected is called the "latent" period. In the case of influenza virus in pigs, the latent period can range from a few hours to a few days on an individual pig basis.

This phase can also be called the "prepatent" period, but that term is usually reserved for the same phase in parasite infestations. The latent period should not be confused with another term – “latency” – that applies to a unique dormant period after the patent period for herpes viruses when the virus is still present, no longer active, but still capable of becoming active again (called recrudescence) under certain circumstances.


USDA Outlines Farm Bill Priorities
By P. Scott Shearer, Bockorny Group, Washington DC

In a major speech, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently outlined the administration’s priorities for the 2012 farm bill. He acknowledged that funding will be reduced and agriculture will have to do more with less. Vilsack cited three core principles that have helped shape the success of American agriculture – maintain a strong safety net, support sustainable productivity, and promote vibrant markets. Those principles need to be protected and advanced as Congress works on the next farm bill, he said. The safety net needs to provide producers with assistance quickly after “they lose their crops to a natural disaster” and reflect the diversity of U.S. agriculture. Furthermore, the programs that comprise the safety net need to be “simple and understandable.” He also recognized the importance of conservation and research to the future of U.S. agriculture. Vilsack called for continued investments in USDA’s trade promotion programs, which studies have shown a return of “$31 for every dollar invested.”


Comment Period Open for CAFO Reporting Rule
By Joe Vansickle, Senior Editor

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a new rule which could increase the amount of information owners of concentrated animal feeding operations report, according to South Dakota State University (SDSU).

The new rule is referred to as the concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) 308 rule, under a settlement agreement with the Natural Resources Defense Council, Waterkeeper Alliance and the Sierra Club.

The rule was published Oct. 21, in the Federal Register. It is currently in the 60-day comment period. Webcasts on the rule will be held on Nov. 9 and Nov. 17. Those involved in the livestock industry are encouraged to listen to the webcasts and provide feedback during this 60-day comment period.


Nov. 1-2, 2011: Meat and Poultry Research Conference, Kansas City Marriott Country Club Plaza, Kansas City, MO; To view the full agenda or to register, go to

Nov. 6-9, 2011: American Bankers Association National Agricultural Bankers Conference, JW Marriott Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN. For more information contact:

Nov. 8, 2011: University of Missouri Extension Commercial Agriculture Program, Stoney Creek Inn, Columbia, MO. For registration information, contact Travis Dixon of the University of Missouri Conference Office, (573) 882-6059 or; for information on the program or speakers, contact Katrina Turner at the Commercial Agriculture Program, or (573) 882-0378.

Nov. 8-9, 2011: International Conference on Feed Efficiency in Swine/Qwest Center, Hilton Hotel, Omaha, NE. For more information contact:

Nov. 10-11, 2011: 2011 Swine Disease Conference for Swine Practitioners, Scheman Building, Iowa State University, Ames, IA. For more information contact: Registration Services at (515) 294-6222 or visit



The April 15, 2011 Blueprint edition of National Hog Farmer offers details on creating stable herd health by developing a herd health profile, provides a review of basic immunology and gives details on how to select the right vaccine. The final article looks at efforts by a consortium of swine disease researchers to understand genetic disease resistance.

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The October 15, 2011 Blueprint edition of National Hog Farmer tackles the new industry target of 30 pigs/sow/year (P/S/Y). As producers strive to achieve the lofty milestone, new challenges and new debates arise. With the push to increase reproductive efficiency, the health and dietary demands on sows becomes increasingly important, the impact on pig flow and facilities is magnified, and the bar to capture full genetic potential is raised. This special edition and more is posted at

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National Hog Farmer offers 10 posters targeting key production areas, offering guidance in critical areas such as feet and leg soundness and reproduction traits soundness in replacement gilts. Others include pig anatomy, heat detection, sow condition, etc. All posters are in English. Select posters are translated to Spanish, Chinese and Japanese.

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