Pork producers facing difficult economic decisions in their operations may want to attend the Swine Transition Seminar set for Aug. 5 in Building C at Northwest Community College in Sheldon, IA.

Iowa State University (ISU) Extension field specialist Dave Stender and ISU Extension farm management specialist Tom Olsen are coordinating the program to help provide information, assistance and resources to pork producers.

Cost for the seminar is $15 per person or $20 per couple and includes materials and meals. Register early to ensure an accurate meal count. For more information and to register, call Dave Stender at (712) 225-6196 or (712) 261-0225 or access the meeting brochure.

“Never before has the hog-corn ratio been so low for so long resulting in unprecedented financial losses,” Stender says. “The outlook for prices remains weak because world demand for pork is still soft. Some producers have responded with sow cutbacks and inventory reduction, while others buy existing operations at a reduced price to keep them going.”

Olsen says the current hog economy is adding to pressure on producers, suppliers and lenders, and decisions can be difficult.

“Long-standing networks of producers, owners, contractors and managers are under stress. Many are being forced to consider new arrangements,” he says. “This seminar will address the options and opportunities for producers.”

The seminar has two tracks: one for ownership options for sows and buildings and one for producers who want to continue in their existing systems on a long-term basis. Registration is at 9:30 a.m., with the keynote presentation by ISU agricultural economist John Lawrence at 10 a.m. The tracks run concurrently from 10:30 a.m. to about 3:45 p.m.

Track one will examine the management expertise needed to own pigs and offer some guidance regarding how a group of producers might work together to get this done.

“On one hand, sow unit shares are available,” Stender says, “while another group of producers facing empty barns and reduced payments is looking for a new pig source.”

Track one speakers include Lawrence, Stender and ISU swine nutrition associate professor John Patience.

Track two will look at traditional ways to reduce cost in a sow unit. This track will also present a non-traditional approach to reduce a producer’s sow herd while minimizing the negative impact of reduced throughput. Discussion will include financial modeling to increase weaning weight and finishing performance, disease control, low birthweight pigs, designing rations for feed cost efficiency and other possible scenarios, Stender says. Track two speakers are Stender, Patience and Iowa Pork Industry Center director John Mabry.

A third optional session targets contract growers who are facing changes in their current contracts. This session will run from 4-8 p.m. and include discussion of a good contract, legal issues, insurance, liability, responsibility and the value of manure. Speakers are Lawrence, Stender and ISU Center for Agricultural Law & Taxation legal consultant Erin Herbold.