Thousands of Iowans who raise hogs will be gathering in Des Moines this week for the annual Iowa Pork Congress. The 8,300 member Iowa Pork Producers Association is hosting the event Tuesday through Thursday. Association president John Webber, a producer from Dysart, says there will be seminars, receptions, judging contests for Iowa youth and a trade show with more than 300 exhibitors.

“This is the largest wintertime trade show in the United States,” Webber says. “Pork Congress is a great event for producers who are interested in upgrading their facilities or taking a look at the newest technologies and products that are out there as well as agri-business representatives, just a lot of activity that goes on those two days in Des Moines.” The trade show runs Wednesday and Thursday. Webber says there will be plenty of quality Iowa pork at the event and they are eager to share it with the public.

“The Winter Pork Picnic will be held Wednesday at noon in Nollen Plaza, just down the skywalk from Hy-Vee Hall and we have several organizations that are grilling product for us outside,” he says. Webber expects there will be lots of talk about the future of pork production in Iowa. While there is a lot of apprehension, he says he’s optimistic about pork production and thinks the industry is here to stay.

“This run-up in feed grain prices has been a real challenge for livestock producers, pork in particular,” Webber says. “I think that will be the number one concern on pork producers’ minds here. With this high of feed costs, it does make long-term planning and long-term decision making more difficult. If the lean meat futures respond to it and the consumer responds to it, this industry will survive and we’ll keep on producing quality Iowa pork.”

 The events at the Pork Congress run three days, starting tomorrow at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines.