Webster County Pork Producers hold annual meeting and banquet
By KRISS NELSON
FORT DODGE – Gregg Hora, Webster County Pork Producer president, took the opportunity to share his experiences on a recent trip to China during the association’s annual meeting and banquet.
During the recent visit to China, Hora said he was among 25 visitors that were made up of agricultural commodity organizations from the state of Iowa including Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Turkey Federation, Iowa Egg Council, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.
Gov. Kim Reynolds and policy adviser Kayla Lyon were also a part of the trip that focused on creating a bond with China, a large importer of Iowa’s agricultural goods.
“The emphasis of the trip had to do with relationships of ag commodities and the farmers that grow those products here in Iowa with our end users and buyers in China,” Hora said.
The trip, which happened last July, included hospitality receptions with the new ambassador to China, former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad.
During these receptions, Hora said the group had the opportunity to meet with people from the U.S. Meat Export Federation and the U.S. Feed Grains Council.
“Those delegations are the ones that work in the country of China with cooperation of the importers of all of the meat and grain products,” he said, “so that when importers want a product, they know the farmers where it is coming from and the suppliers they can link up with, aid in quality issues, financial concerns, currency issues and the logistics of the product they work with.”
The 13-year ban on U.S. beef was lifted just a month prior to the ag leaders trip to China.
Hora said the group was able to take part in an unveiling of U.S. beef at one of China’s large supply chains, Wu-Mart.
“It was a big promotion with the director of marketing for Wu-Mart, U.S. Meat Export Federation and the Iowa Cattlemen’s association,” he said. “It was a real highlight for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. There was a showcase of cowboy songs and dances of the U.S., a real nice display, along with cooking demonstrations and of course taste-testing. We were promoting U.S. beef. That was really neat.”
He added China is a popular spot for our state’s commodity groups, such as the Iowa Pork Producers, to visit.
“We go there because of relations for our product’s availability, quality and of course for pricing that we think we can always be favorable with them on,” Hora said.
He went on to say a large part of that is because Iowa pork producers sell $1 billion worth of pork in the export market and China is always in the top three to four countries in the world buying U.S. pork.
Those exports are thanks in part to China’s continued growth.
“It’s a growing market. They utilize more pork per capita in China than we do in the United States,” he said. “When you have a growing economy with nearly 350 million people that are transitioning into the middle class within a 10-year period and they’re more than 50 percent of the way through that right now, that’s a lot of buying power.”
In addition to pork, Hora said another opportunities producers see for U.S. products to be exported to China is soybeans.
“Sixty percent of the soybeans that are exported from the U.S. go into China,” he said. “Here in Iowa, it’s one out of every four rows of soybeans that go directly to China. And that’s a big deal for producers, that’s a big deal for suppliers and to it helps to prop up our markets.”
Drew Mogler, producer outreach for the Iowa Pork Producers Association, shared some of the economic benefits the pork industry not only is bringing to Webster County, but to the state of Iowa as well.
According to Mogler, Webster County’s pork industry provides more than 800 jobs with labor income totaling $51.3 million, allowing for combined local, state and federal taxes of more than $10 million.
“As you can tell, it’s an important part of the economy locally, but also across the entire state,” Mogler said. “The Iowa pork industry continues to be a driving engine of the state’s economy and we hear about when legislature gets worried about revenue shortfalls. A lot of times, it’s tied back to agriculture. This affirms the importance of our industry.”
Statewide, he said the Iowa pork industry contributes about 142,000 jobs, from raising pigs to working on the packing and processing side and other related businesses.
“That’s one in 12 employed Iowans,” he said. “That also contributes to about $36 million worth of economic activity. We continue to tell that story to folks who are influencers in our communities.”
Another important message the Iowa Pork Producers Association is trying to drive home across the state is the value of manure.
“That is something that we, the Iowa pork producer, needs to do a better job of; telling the story of manure and its value to the state,” he said. “It kind of seems odd. People aren’t used to talking about the value of manure and what it brings to our state, but it’s a valuable resource and it can be estimated to add anywhere from $20,000 to $25,000 worth of fertilizer value from a 2,400 head hog barn for crop needs.”
Mogler said some that may not be as connected to agriculture or naysayers of the pork industry will claim Iowa has too much manure.
According to a study done by Iowa State University and Dr. Dan Anderson, or “doctor manure.” as referred to by Mogler, only 25 percent of the crop’s fertilizer need comes from livestock manure.
“So, really, we need more manure,” he said. “That is a story we need to talk more about.”
There are also questions if Iowa’s pork producers are handling manure responsibly.
“Our response to that would be is manure is very highly regulated in this state,” he said. “There’s 125 pages of rules and regulation on the Iowa Pork Producer Association’s website and farmers, when they’re building barns and operating their farms, have to adhere to those rules.”
The annual event is also an opportunity to recognize the county’s pork queen. This year’s Webster County Pork Queen is Micaela Fevold, from Gowrie. Fevold was also awarded the association’s scholarship.
Fevold recently graduated early from Southeast Valley High school and is currently attending Iowa Central Community College, majoring in criminal justice.
To round out the evening, local auctioneer Scott Klingson led the trophy auction where area producers and businesses were given the chance to sponsor those trophies, which will be given out later this summer at the Webster County Fair.
Please Enter Your Facebook App ID. Required for FB Comments. Click here for FB Comments Settings page