Water Quality, Disease Among Hot Topics at 2016 MN Pork Congress

With water regulation, low commodity prices and disease finding its way to the top of hot topics in 2016, farmers and agriculture industry representatives gathered at Minnesota Pork Congress on Jan. 19-20 to learn from industry experts on current issues and network at the tradeshow.

With pigs being the number one customer of soybeans, many pig farmers also raise soybeans and corn, two of the largest components in pigs’ rations. Doing the right thing when it comes to environmental practices is just as important as animal welfare.

Joe Smentek, Minnesota Soybean’s Director of Public Affairs, and Warren Formo with the Minnesota Agriculture Water Resource Center, teamed up in the first session to give an update on Waters of the United States (WOTUS) and Buffer Bill, two topics that have dominated headlines in recent months. 

“The biggest misconception is that farmers who are against these proposed regulations are against clean water,” Formo said. “This is not a for or against clean water issue, but rather how we get there.”

Smentek focused on the Buffer Bill, while explaining a project funded by the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council (MSR&PC) that will help guide farmers through the Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies (WRAPS) process. 

“Minnesota Soybean decided to work with Houston Engineering to create a handbook to help answer questions and be a resource at any level,” Smentek said.

Smentek also mentioned Gov. Dayton’s upcoming Water Summit that will be taking place Feb. 27 in St. Paul, Minn. Smentek urged those in the room to register, even if put on the waitlist as it shows agriculture wants to be a part of the conversation. 

Other hot issues

Other sessions and speakers throughout the two-day event focused on the status of PRRS and PEDv, two diseases that have greatly affected the pork industry, 2016 antibiotic changes, results from a recent study modeling PEDv being transferred from China to the United States, as well as a trade update.