On Sept. 12, pork industry leaders from the U.S. and China gathered in Beijing for the 2014 U.S.-China Swine Industry Symposium. This was the third year for the symposium, with this edition focusing on livestock nutrient management. The event is co-hosted by USMEF, the U.S. Grains Council, the U.S. Soybean Export Council, the China Animal Agriculture Association (CAAA) and the China Meat Association. It attracted more than 200 attendees, including industry representatives, agricultural policy makers, animal health experts and university researchers.
Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific, said one of the most important benefits of this year’s symposium – and the two that preceded it – is the opportunity for producers from the U.S. and China to share ideas and experiences related to challenges common to all pork-producing countries.
“It was encouraging to see such significant interaction between some large Chinese producers and the members of our U.S. producer delegation,” Haggard said. “These are U.S. producers who would be considered quite large in China, but who are really more representative of the typical American family farm. There was a great deal of comradery in the room and some very practical discussions about best industry practices.”
Wayne Humphreys, a pork, corn and soybean producer who serves on the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, provided attendees with an overview of the manure management practices on his 20,000-head hog operation in Louisa County, Iowa.
“Waste management was the primary focus of this year’s symposium,” Haggard said. “U.S. producers have been making strides for decades in the areas of environmental protection and sustainability, while the era of more strict environmental regulation is just beginning in China.”
Madame Gong Gui Fen, deputy secretary general of CAAA, noted that Chinese environmental regulations relating to livestock production had been in place for years, but implementation has been challenging. China enacted new livestock pollution ordinances in January of this year that symposium participants said are likely to increase production costs. She also discussed the competitive imbalances that can occur when producers who comply with increasingly strict environmental regulations face higher operating costs than those who do not.
Russ Vering of Scribner, Nebraska, who serves as vice president of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association, gave a well-received presentation on large animal mortality composting – another important area of environmental protection that presents a growing challenge for China’s producers.
Craig Mensink, a Preston, Minnesota, pork producer who serves on the National Pork Board, was also on the symposium program. He led a closing panel discussion in which all symposium speakers took questions from the audience.
“It was interesting to hear from Chinese pork producers who are dealing with environmental challenges similar to those we faced in the past,” said Patrick FitzSimmons of Dassel, Minnesota, president of the Minnesota Pork Board. “This symposium offered an excellent platform for discussing production practices and how industry leaders from our two countries are working together to achieve food security and sustainable hog production.”
Other members of the U.S. delegation included:
Bruce Schmoll, Minnesota Soybean Association and USMEF secretary-treasurer
Becca Hendricks, vice president for international marketing, National Pork Board
Scott McGregor, Iowa Soybean Association
Dean Black, Iowa Beef Industry Council
David Bruntz, Nebraska Corn Board
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