For those attending the annual Iowa Pork Congress in Des Moines last week, the mood was definitely upbeat. The event drew some 4,000 attendees including pork producers and industry representatives.

According to a report in the Des Moines Register, the Iowa Department of Economic Development released a report showing Iowa pork had a record $1 billion in exports during 2010, a solid recovery from just a year earlier when the H1N1 virus scare slammed many export doors shut for Iowa producers.

While hog prices are firmly supported by domestic and export markets, challenges remain for pork producers. "The greater regulatory challenges we face now are likely to come more from the federal government," said John Weber, Dysart, Iowa pork producer and outgoing Iowa Pork Producers Association president.

Weber turned over the president's title to Leon Sheets, 58, a hog producer from Ionia who markets about 24,000 pigs from 1,200 sows annually as well as farming 600 acres of corn and soybeans.

Sheets and Weber chatted Thursday morning amid the bustle of the displays at the Iowa Events Center, and they made it clear that despite a big jump in hog prices and stronger export markets, they know better than to proclaim an era of permanent prosperity for Iowa's 8,300 pork producers.

"We're going to be feeding $6 corn to our hogs this year, and other input costs are rising as well," said Sheets.

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Source: Des Moines Register