SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — While there’s not a lot that the leader of the state’s pork association can do about the current condition of the Illinois and U.S. pork industry, the Illinois Pork Expo can help producers stay prepared for whatever comes.
“The mood, right now, is dampened, because of current market conditions. Right now, with Proposition 12 going into effect, there’s a little bit of uncertainty — there is uncertainty in our industry,” said Jennifer Tirey, executive director of the Illinois Pork Producers Association.
The Illinois Pork Expo will bring production, economic and industry updates and information, as well as the latest products and technology, to the Bank of Springfield Center on Jan. 30.
Registration is required to enter the expo. Guests can register the day of the event.
The expo starts at 9 a.m. with the annual meeting, which is open to the public. Scheduled speakers are David Newman, senior vice president of market growth for the National Pork Board, and Cody McKinley, vice president of state and national relations for the National Pork Producers Council.
“Dr. Newman will be talking about market growth, not only in Illinois, but from a national standpoint, to let producers know where their checkoff dollars are being utilized,” Tirey said.
“Then Cody McKinley, who is our regulatory arm at the National Pork Producers Council, will be providing an update.”
At 11:30 a.m., Steve Meyer, lead economist with Ever.Ag, will present an economic and marketing update.
At 2 p.m., producers will have further opportunity to talk about their checkoff dollars, with “Checkoff Chat” with Newman.
The trade show will feature 100 exhibitors.
“We are excited at the variety of the exhibitors and the content of the goods and services they will be bringing,” Tirey said.
With depressed market conditions, the event gives producers and their families the chance to not just meet and talk, but also offer support.
“It’s worth the time that they take away from the farm to come to expo. Our producers learn so much from talking to each other and sharing some of the things they are working on and the struggles that they may be having,” Tirey said.
“That peer-to-peer contact is hard to put a price on, with what you can gain from talking to other producers in the industry.”
An important part of the event is the legislative reception, for state government officials, legislators and legislative staff, that runs from 5 to 7 p.m. on the trade show floor.
The event gives state elected officials and their staffs the opportunity to meet and talk with constituents in an informal setting.
Tirey said the reception helps legislators learn the economic impact that the industry has in Illinois, from farms in their districts to various swine-specific agribusinesses that contribute to the local, regional and state economy.
“The legislators don’t really care to talk to me all the time. They want to talk to their own constituents,” Tirey said.
“This is the perfect opportunity for these legislators to put a face with the name of people who live and work and farm and raise families in their districts.”
The expo moved from Peoria to Springfield in 2014. That move was done partly with the legislative component of the event in mind, Tirey said.
“We did that to encourage our legislative stakeholders to come to the evening reception, so they can see the economic value of our industry in one large space,” she said.
“Having all of these great agribusinesses that are primarily based in Illinois, that support the livestock industry, provide jobs and contribute to the local and state economy is a great backdrop for the legislative reception.
“So, the legislators have the opportunity to talk with the producers and the businesses who make up the industry.”
Tirey said the attendance of producers at the legislative reception helps drive home the importance of the livestock industry to the state and the state economy.
“We are a large economic driver and we want to make sure that stakeholders at the state level understand that we need their support to continue to stay in business and to continue to be that economic driver,” she said.
For more information, visit https://ilpork.com/expo/2024-il-pork-expo.