It has gained a reputation as one of the leading seminars of its kind in the world, partly by tackling topics of most challenge to the industry. The upcoming 2013 Banff Pork Seminar Jan. 15 to 17, 2013 has fittingly chosen a theme of "The Challenge of Change."
Against a backdrop of major pork industry pressures and changes the Seminar has brought in leading speakers to discuss the key areas of challenge for producers and their industry. Seminar organizers say this year's streamlined program format and adjustments to the venue are designed to improve the experience of attending presentations, bring in more industry participation and improve networking opportunities.
"The biggest change the industry faces this year is the massive increase in feed costs," says Dr. Ruurd Zijlstra, of the University of Alberta, Banff Pork Seminar Program Director. "The other major one is pig prices. The first speakers at the Wednesday plenary session are two large successful companies who will speak on these factors in the context of how they measure success in their operations."
Jason Logsdon is CEO of The Maschhoffs, one of the largest family owned production networks in North America. That company partners with more than 400 family farmers across the U.S Midwest and produces enough pork to feed 10 million consumers annually. He'll speak on "Performance metrics in a high growth environment."
Steve Pollmann is president of Murphy-Brown's Western Operations, including 150 company owned farms and approximately 500 contract producer farmers. It is the world's largest producer of pork products. He'll speak on "True measures of successful pork production."
Another front where the industry faces the challenge of change is in dealing with animal welfare activism and related public relations scrutiny. The Thursday morning plenary session is entitled "New Partnerships" and brings together two speakers to talk about this challenge and how to form better partnerships in the value chain.
A producer leader from the United Egg Producers will tell about how bitter adversaries, the United Egg Producers and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) forged a compromise that hatched an innovative plan to change the egg business in that country.
Wes Jamison associate professor of public relations at Palm Beach Atlantic University will address "Advocating for our future." A highly regarded researcher and speaker, he has expertise in public relations, political science and political communications related to agricultural policies.
Some of the most practical advice comes from the popular breakout sessions. Attendees can pick from these 11 sessions which feature top speakers from across North America and overseas. They include sessions on the latest in swine nutrition, competing for markets at home and abroad, and building competitive pork production. Other sessions include unlocking genetic potential, and why healthy pigs mean healthy profits.
Key issues are also targeted. Examples include reducing antibiotic use, understanding the limits to biological potential, and one of the biggest current issues - the conversion to gestation stalls: What's working, what isn't and why. On the communications side, there's a session on how to get the message out using social media, and one on simple tips for speaking up for agriculture.
The strength of networking opportunities matches the strength of the information.
"We've built in even more networking opportunities into this year's program, "says Zijlstra. "The Seminar starts with a Tuesday afternoon reception featuring the latest pork products prepared by the Banff Centre chefs. Thursday ends with a "Boar Pit session where industry leaders are on the firing line for questions from the floor. That is followed by a closing networking reception.
"Also, to make it easier to network with industry, all sponsors booths will be in one, much larger location, with full-time coffee centers located there."
Registration, accommodation and full program information is available on the Seminar website at www.banffpork.ca. More information in also available by email at email@example.com or by contacting Ruth Ball, conference manager by phone at (780) 492-3651. Registration includes a copy of the proceedings.