By Brad Garrison
Our first stop on Day One, February 19, of our sixth and final seminar was Nutrient Advisors in West Point. Nutrient Advisors is a company that helps reduce the risk to producers and farmers through environmental compliance of manure and waste water. Andy Scholting of Nutrient Advisors explained that enforcement is always intensifying from the EPA in compliance and regulations. He also explained Nutrient Advisors functions like a CPA. They have the right product in the right place at the right rate and right time. This gives the producers and farmers the peace of mind to make sure they are always in compliance. Between 2008 and 2012 producers and farmers started getting serious about manure application due to the skyrocketing cost of nitrogen. Nutrient Advisors also helps producers with soil sampling and ground water monitoring. This was a great day spent with great people and a great company. Thanks again to Nutrient Advisors for a great learning session about important topics.
The second stop of the day was at Swine Management Services in Fremont. Swine Management Services was established in 1994, and was purchased in 2002 by Ron Ketchem and Mark Rix. SMS has a variety of services that they offer to their cliental. They help manage data processing for over 45,000 sows a week. They do many farm visits for production-related training of team members for various farms. SMS also provides training in the areas of TQA and PQA Plus. Both of these trainings are required for individuals and teams that provide day-to-day care and move animals. SMS does farm analysis for over 450,000 sows in four different countries, including the U.S., Canada, the Philippines and Australia. They work with 26 different companies and their programs. SMS then extracts the data and implants it into their own programs to assist producers. Those reports are generated from farm reports for weekly and monthly analysis. SMS also helps producers with benchmarking their sow heads. SMS started in 2005 with the benchmarking side of their business. Their farm sizes for benchmarking range from 125 to 10,000 sows. They are currently serving 890 farms with 1.5 million sows that represent 16 different genetic companies. As you can see, SMS is a very diverse company that is always looking out for the producer’s best option. Our time there was interesting and educational learning about the many services SMS offers. Thank you to Mark and Ron for a great couple of hours learning more about your business.
Our third and final stop of the day was at the office of Dr. Benny Mote. Dr. Mote is an instructor and UNL extension educator specializing in swine. Dr. Mote discussed several different topics and projects that he and undergraduate and graduate students are currently working on. One of the projects they are currently studying is genetic projects outside of current production traits.
Some of the projects include: PRRS; PEDv; PCVZ; Genetic Defects; Mulberry Heart; Scrotal Ruptures; Structure of Animals; Boar Taint; IMF/Eating Quality; and Boar Fertility.
Some of the early studies with gilts have shown that gilts housed in group pens had poorer foot health than those housed in stalls. Thank you to Dr. Mote for your expert knowledge and studies to help us all improve.
Day Two of our sixth seminar started out with breakfast with Al Juhnke, executive director of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association. After meeting with Al, who is a registered lobbyist with the Nebraska Legislature advocating for the pork industry, we were able to sit in the gallery of the legislature to listen to a bill being debated. After listening for about 45 minutes we were fortunate to be able to have individual meetings with our legislators from our district. We were able to express concerns about the pork industry that are hot topics concerning Nebraska producers. After meeting with our legislators we sat in on an Agriculture Committee meeting about LB594, which is a bill introduced by Senator Blood about plant-based protein. The pork, beef, and poultry producers are fighting to keep the term “meat” off plant-based proteins. These are not meat products and we believe that the product should not be allowed to incorporate meat into its marketing and labeling. Al testified on behalf of Nebraska’s pork producers. Many of us in the group had never experienced this type of activity at the legislature, but it was a great and powerful experience all around.
After lunch at Billy’s Restaurant we ventured to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and met with Amelia Breinig, the assistant director for the department. Amelia gave us a brief overview of the department. We also discussed the Livestock Siting Assessment Matrix and how to achieve getting more livestock-friendly counties. We discussed the impact that financial cuts to the Department could have to producers. One of the last topics we covered with Amelia was how to accommodate foreign customers on trade missions. These foreign trade discussions and missions are always looking for the best of Nebraska to help promote our agriculture product. The trade missions promote all of the products available for trade that Nebraskans produce daily. This was another great opportunity for all of us to learn more about our state’s Department of Agriculture. Thanks again, Amelia for sharing your knowledge.
The last stop of our last seminar was with newly elected Nebraska Secretary of State Robert B. Evnen. What a great experience for all of us to learn some history of the Capitol Building and some knowledge of what duties the Secretary of State in Nebraska has. The Secretary of State’s duties include: Promotion of International Trade; Keeper of the seal of Nebraska; Chief Election Officer to ensure fair elections; Chair of the real estate board; and member of the Pardons Board. While visiting Mr. Evnen, we also had the pleasure of meeting Assistant Secretary of State Cindi Allen, and Angel Velitchkov, who provides counsel for international trade.
Thank you to all the pork producers in Nebraska that make the Pork Leadership Program a possibility. This was a wonderful opportunity for all. Nothing is possible without all of your efforts. Please applaud yourselves for being good stewards of the land and great care takers of the animals!