The 10 industry professionals profiled have over 300 years of active pork production experience.

Our annual “state of the industry” report is always one of the most interesting and invigorating issues to write and produce each year. I'm hopeful that you find this issue equally so as you read these pages.

The “Masters of the Pork Industry” interviews are particularly enlightening as it affords us the opportunity to explore the histories, motivations and visions of a diverse, hand-picked group of true professionals in the U.S. pork industry.

Joe Vansickle and I do our best to select these individuals from a broad array of disciplines throughout our industry.

We consider them “masters” for two reasons.

From a definitive point of view, the American Heritage Dictionary offers these fitting definitions:

  • The owner or keeper of animals.

  • One whose teachings or doctrines are accepted by followers.

  • An artist or performer of great and exemplary skill.

  • The captain.

  • An employer.

  • An expert.

  • One who holds a master's degree.

  • A worker qualified to teach apprentices and carry on the craft independently.

As you read through these Master's profiles, beginning on page 8, I'm certain you will recognize the owners, teachers, captains and employers — many with a master's degree — and most certainly those capable of teaching the many crafts associated with the production of top quality pork.

And, much as the widely recognized Masters golf tournament represents professional golfers at the pinnacle of their careers, we see our “Masters of the Pork Industry” as being leaders in their chosen fields, widely respected for their talent and mastery of pork production. All have long-standing records of accomplishments and contributions, and they continue to share those talents.

In all, our 10 Masters have tallied roughly 330 years of actively raising hogs or working in their respective professional careers. Hailing from nine different states, that's an average of nearly 33 years of pork industry experience and surely worthy of the title — Master.

Click here to jump to The Masters article

Iowa and Canada

As another major feature of our “state of the industry” editions, we traditionally profile the pork industry in a state or region. This year we've chosen to profile the state of Iowa, the long-standing national leader in annual hog marketings. We interviewed the usual suspects, collecting their thoughts about the trials and tribulations faced by the state's pork producers, as well as the opportunities within a state that promises to “grow on you” whenever you pass their welcoming sign at the state's borders.

We also called on Kevin Grier, senior market analyst at the George Morris Centre in Guelph, Ontario for an inside look at what is happening in the Canadian segment of the North American pork industry. Grier offers an update on the challenges and opportunities our northern neighbors face in the coming years.

We hope you enjoy this special edition of National Hog Farmer. If you feel someone is particularly deserving of having their talents and contributions profiled in next year's Masters series, please drop us a note or give us a call. We welcome your comments and suggestions.

Sow Housing Forum

Aside from the price of corn, there probably isn't a hotter topic in the North American swine industry than the challenges facing pork producers as they consider the sow-housing options of the future.

Pork producers and allied industry alike are clamoring to unearth research and personal experiences that can shed some light on the issue.

Many in the industry have never worked with group-housed sows, let alone treated them, vaccinated them or fed them in a group-housing environment. Some openly wonder how the genetic lines selected to survive and thrive in gestation stalls will get along in groups. Others debate whether small groups are better than large groups.

These topics and more will be addressed during the Sow Housing Forum on June 6th at the Marriott Hotel downtown Des Moines. The program features an all-star cast of pork industry researchers, specialists and pork producers who have witnessed and documented the welfare, nutrition, genetic, facility and labor challenges that group housing of sows surely presents.

National Hog Farmer and Pork Checkoff joined forces in developing the program. Chore-Time Hog Production Systems, Hubbard Feeds and the U.S. Pork Center of Excellence are supporting the program with their sponsorship.

There's still time to register. For additional information and the full program, go to www.nationalhogfarmer.com or www.pork.org and click on “Sow Housing Forum.” The full program is also presented on page 63.

If you mention National Hog Farmer when you register, the early-registration fee of $50/person will still be granted.