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State of the Pork Industry Report: Takeaways from 2023

Looking back at the takeaways from 2023, what are the non-negotiables for pork producers going into the second half of 2024? In the first State of the Pork Industry Report hosted by Farm Journal’s PORK editor Jennifer Shike, four experts discuss this question and more as they compare the data to what they are seeing in the barns. 

Find out what this group of industry leaders believes are the most important takeaways and how this can help your farm be more profitable now and in the future.

Experts include:

  • Cara Haden, DVM and veterinarian with Pipestone
  • Randy Kuker, director of swine production for The Equity
  • Adam Annegers, sow production manager at JBS
  • Brad Eckberg, business analyst with MetaFarms 

For Kuker, the non-negotiables for 2024 are simple – people development and biosecurity matter. 

“Develop your people, train them, coach them, try to influence them to do a good job every day and give them the support they need. Be present for them,” Kuker said in the report. “Then, really push biosecurity. Consider incentivizing people for doing good biosecurity and keeping those lateral transfers out of there.”

Annegers couldn’t agree more and added the pork industry doesn’t have time not to train. People are the industry’s No. 1 resource.

“Keeping our people happy and getting them trained, engaged and empowered to do a great job taking care of pigs is huge for us. That will continue to be a big driver for us as we go forward,” Annegers said. “Those people trees are just not growing anymore. So, when we get talented people who care a lot, we need to put all of our time and effort into those people. Without employees on the farms, we don’t have farms.” 

For the self-proclaimed “data nerd” on the panel, Eckberg encouraged producers to utilize data to make decisions. He also reminded listeners that garbage in is garbage out. 

“You’ve got to have quality, accurate data to make decisions,” Eckberg said. “Tracking the bare essentials is a great place to start that allows you to be proactive.”

Of course, health is a non-negotiable for Haden.

“It is so fun to raise healthy pigs. It's a blast. They're a really fun animal to work with,” she said. “But it's not fun to raise sick pigs. Really look at your system. What can we do from a vaccination standpoint? What can we do from a flow standpoint? What can we do from a biosecurity standpoint? What can we do to try to keep our pigs healthy, so that we can enjoy our jobs and going into the barn every single day? I think that needs to be a huge focus.”

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