Protecting hog health and coping with disease issues are the biggest challenge for pork producers, a survey released this week at the National Pork Industry Forum in Kansas City, Mo., found, though hog producers are still optimistic about the future of the industry.
The hog health response is not surprising, given Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus continues to impact farms across the country.
"In a year that brought significant herd losses due to PEDV, the survey underscores that the issue is still top of mind for many producers," said Karen Richter, National Pork Board president. "But with this concern comes opportunity for the Pork Checkoff, with 27% of producers also saying that the Checkoff was best positioned to fund additional research into PEDV."
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At 27%, providing PEDV research ranked first from a defined list of choices when asked "How can the Checkoff help you in 2014?" However, that direction changes slightly when those surveyed were asked to fill-in their own blank.
When asked the open-ended question of "What is the single most important thing the Pork Checkoff can do to help your operation be more successful?, six of 12 answers related to marketing pork. Advertising and promoting pork ranked No. 1 at 23%, followed by educating consumers about the safety of pork at 12%. Additional marketing-related concerns included improving export and international trade potential, increasing demand, opening more markets to pork and improving the sale price of hogs.
The challenging events of the past year also may have served to unite the industry in a focused direction. According to the survey results, 75% of the 550 respondents reported that the pork industry is on the "right track." Not only is that result the highest in survey history, but is up 16 points from the 2012 result of 59%.
"This is a very strong result," said Richter. "Producers are satisfied, and whether you run a small, family farm or are part of a larger organization, there is a sense of optimism - especially among producers age 18 to 54. That says a lot about the future of our industry."