DES MOINES, Iowa — In less than a month, pork producers from around the globe will gather, along with swine industry experts, product vendors and others, at the Iowa State Fairgrounds for the 2021 World Pork Expo.
The event, sponsored by the National Pork Producers Council, is a long time coming. For the past two years, organizers had to cancel the event.
In 2019, the event was canceled due to concerns over African swine fever. In 2020, the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This decision did not come lightly. It was very carefully considered based on the feedback of so many people across the industry, not only the NPPC board of directors, but also within the state of Iowa, to move forward with the World Pork Expo this year,” said Jen Sorenson, the communications director of Iowa Select Farms and the president of the NPPC.
The 2021 World Pork Expo is scheduled to take place June 9-11. The event will take place without a live swine show.
The National Swine Registry’s Exposition takes place June 13-19 in Indianapolis. The expo will include a junior show and an open show.
NPPC board members, staff and leaders discussed the health measures surrounding the World Pork Expo during a call detailing the activities of the NPPC’s Legislative Action Conference.
In answer to a question from media concerning the rate of vaccination and the health measures that are being implemented for the upcoming event, Jim Monroe, assistant vice president of communications for the NPPC, and Sorenson said that organizers are taking steps to keep attendees safe and healthy.
“There are measures we already know we are going to take. For example, we have a trade show which is going to be more spread out with barriers between exhibit spaces, hand-washing stations and the like, obviously urging other practices encouraged by the CDC. We will continue to monitor the situation and guidance from government officials and we will adjust appropriately,” Monroe said.
He did make reference to efforts from the NPPC to encourage workers in the U.S. swine industry to get COVID-19 vaccinations.
“NPPC has been very active in promoting the COVID vaccine. We have a campaign, ‘You’re Essential So It’s Essential,’ that we’ve been driving through social media and other channels to encourage folks in our industry to get the COVID vaccine. USDA has been very active on that front as well,” Monroe said.
Do Your Part
Terry Wolters, NPPC president-elect, is also vice president of customer and industry relations for The Pipestone System, a pork production business based in Pipestone, Minnesota.
Wolters agreed that individual farms and pork production and management systems also are engaging in efforts to encourage swine industry workers to get vaccinated and to help them locate vaccination locations.
“I would say, from our sector, in southwest Minnesota, and other producers I’m talking to, definitely the outreach to employees and workers. We provide locations where vaccines are available. We are continuing to put that information in front of all of our team and definitely encouraging employees and staff, along with fellow producers, to get vaccinated,” Wolters said.
Our Best Shot
Neil Dierks, the CEO of the NPPC, said judging from anecdotal evidence he has heard, U.S. pork producers are getting their COVID-19 vaccinations.
“I would tell the sense I have, and I talk to a lot of producers, is that producers are getting vaccinated. I don’t recall any significant pushback by a producer about not getting vaccinated,” he said.
Dierks related the willingness he said he has seen among producers to get vaccinated to an understanding of the benefits of vaccines and the role they play in animal health and welfare.
“Our producers are used to dealing with animal health and they understand the importance of vaccines. I’m sure there are some producers who will not want to be vaccinated, but more often than not, when I talk to a producer, I get comments like, ‘I just had my second booster,’ or ‘I am getting vaccinated on this day,’” he said.
In This Together
Wolters confirmed that producers he’s talked to have been in favor of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I can say that I have been vaccinated. I’ve had both my doses. I have yet to talk to a producer who has told me no, they have no interest in getting vaccinated, that they won’t support it. We care for livestock every day. It’s part of our daily routine to vaccinate and prevent disease. I would say the majority of our people are on board with it,” Wolters said.