If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that the factors you consider when making production and marketing decisions will change from year to year. The basics remain — concern about rising input costs, labor concerns and the unpredictability of market values — but every day new technologies add new pressures to your profitability.

While the recent surge in ethanol and soy-diesel production is a positive for energy independence, the impact of competition for feedstuffs has created input price volatility that can make for some nervous days. In fact, according USDA’s early Prospective Plantings Report, this year’s corn acreage is on pace to include 12.2 million acres more than in 2006.

According to Glenn Grimes, University of Missouri ag economist and presenter at the World Pork Expo Marketing Information Center, the outcome of this year’s plantings will have a major impact on pork producers.

Soybean acreage is targeted to be down 11 percent from last year’s level at 8.3 million acres. These crop adjustments will certainly have an impact on feed costs as biofuel production expands.

“The weather will determine whether corn can be planted, or whether we’ll shift back to soybeans,” Grimes says. “Any drop in plantings will be negative to pork producers.”

Labor costs and availability continue to challenge producers, as does working with immigrant populations and dealing with language barriers. Add to that the need to integrate software into the operating systems and find which programs work best.

With these issues in mind, the National Pork Producers Council and co-sponsor Pork magazine have designed a program for WPX, June 7-9, in Des Moines, Iowa, where you can learn about these issues and much more.

“A pork producer’s day gets more complicated all the time,” says Jill Appell, NPPC president. “We believe we have a responsibility to provide producers with a forum to learn about the things that will impact their operations and let them ask questions.”

Expanding producer knowledge

The WPX Marketing Information Center provides the opportunity to hear from leading industry and university experts on issues that impact your daily operations.

On Thursday and Friday, the Noon Outlook session will address:

  • Weather Situation and Outlook for Summer 2007, Elwin Taylor, Iowa State University.
  • Outlook for Feed Costs in 2007/2008 and Beyond, Robert Wisner, Iowa State University.
  • Hog and Pork Economic Outlook, Glenn Grimes, University of Missouri
  • Lunch is provided, compliments of the National Pork Board.

“The most important thing that producers can do,” Grimes says, “is to listen to Bob Wisner’s economic outlook. Prices of inputs and grains will be a big change for producers this year and, even though hog prices are good, may push some margins into red ink.

“With three years of record profits, this has been among the longest profitability period for pork producers,” he adds. “The best we can tell, demand will be up a bit for the next seven months. Demand for live hogs is really driven by exports, and export prices are up 75 percent above 2003. That’s something nobody predicted.”

Grimes also will discuss the early results of the 2007 Industry Structure Study, conducted by University of Missouri, Iowa State, Pork magazine, NPB and PIC. It will reveal trends seen since the 2003 study and look to the future.  

Come early, stay late

On Thursday, June 7, the morning session begins at 9 a.m. Sponsored by Pfizer Animal Health, it will include a bi-lingual session in English and Spanish, featuring a Mexican veterinarian who will discuss how to get pigs started; early identification of sick pigs; and a training session for service managers and other supervisors on how to work with employees. 

On Friday morning, June 8, at 9 a.m., Cargill will present biofuels insight sessions, including “Ethanol: Rethinking the Corn Market,” “Biogas: Reusing the Waste” and “Nutrients: Revaluing Co-products.”

On both Thursday and Friday, beginning at 3 p.m., AgroSoft North America will present sessions designed to illustrate how to integrate production management software into pork operations, including the benefits of using hand-held data-input devices.

You will find the Marketing Information Center in the Varied Industries Building Conference Room C. It is open to all producers attending WPX. Tickets to WPX are $10 at the gate, but can be purchased in advance for $5 each from NPPC.

WPX is presented by NPPC. For more information and for advance ticket purchases, visit the official WPX Web site at www.worldpork.org .