By Claire Masker

Powerful speakers and relevant industry topics packed the 2018 Pork Management Conference. The annual gathering brings producers, human resource officers, safety directors, accountants, risk managers and other pork industry professionals together to expand their knowledge and to anticipate future challenges – on economic benchmarking, labor issues, gene editing and more.

“The agenda for the 2018 Pork Management Conference was impactful,” said Mike Porth, senior procurement and business development manager for Smithfield Foods and a member of the conference planning committee. “The conference continues to grow and to help attendees increase their industry knowledge.”

Work Underway on PRRS-Resistant Pig

Speaker Steven Brody, global director of regulatory affairs at Genus, discussed how potential uses for gene editing in the pork industry continue to grow and evolve, including the development of a gene-edited trait in livestock.

“Gene editing technology allows for precise changes to be made to the DNA of living cells,” Brody said. “The genetic changes hold the potential to eradicate disease, transform agriculture and enable massive leaps forward in animal welfare and environmental and life sciences.”

Through this technology, Genus has developed a PRRS-resistant pig. PRRS is No. 1 when it comes to the costliest pathogen to hit swine herds. In 2016, PRRS cost U.S. pork producers over $580 million.

Brody said that the company is working to ensure the new technology is approved through all of the regulatory channels in the United States and internationally.

“We know how important U.S. pork exports are, so we want to make sure that when these pigs are produced commercially, there will not be any trade barriers that may hurt exports,” Brody said.

Learning from Other Ag Commodities

While some management issues are unique to the pork industry, employee relations are a challenge shared by those in production agriculture. Kevin Wulf heads community relations and education at Riverview LLP. He shared his company’s views with attendees.

“Our company’s goal is to provide a culture of opportunity for passionate people with innovative ideas,” Wulf said. “We work hard to empower employees.”

Over 1,000 full-time employees and 200 seasonal, part-time employees work in beef, dairy, crop and construction for Riverview in Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico and Arizona.

One way that Riverview empowers employees  is through employee ownership. Employees own 70 percent of Riverview, Wulf said.

“Employee ownership helps with retention and employee’s mindset,” Wulf said. “When workers have ownership in something, they think and act like owners. If you aren’t an owner, you aren’t going to act like one.”

For More Information …

Visit pork.org/pmc to view and download presentations from the 2018 Pork Management Conference. The 2019 conference will be April 23-26 in Nashville.