Organizers of the 45th annual Iowa Pork Congress expect as many as 5,000 producers from across the state to attend the two-day event, opening today in Des Moines.

It’s one of North America’s largest winter swine trade shows. Ron Birkenholz, spokesman for the Iowa Pork Producers, says the keynote speaker is very humorous and thought-provoking.

“Dr. Lowell Catlett is a retired economics professor and dean of the college at New Mexico State University,” Birkenholz says. “He describes himself as a futurist and he’s going to talk about the best time ever to be in agriculture and the five trends he believes will make it even better.” The pork congress will feature a series of seminars focusing on the future of the pork industry and what’s known as the Veterinary Feed Directive.

“One of our seminars will be devoted to talking about the VFD,” he says. “Dr. Chris Rademacher from Iowa State University will lead that discussion. We also have Dr. Steve Meyer who’ll talk about the economic situation in the industry right now.” Many producers are feeling the financial pinch due to continued low commodity prices and there will be discussions geared just for them.

Birkenholz says, “With the economic downturn we’re facing in the swine industry, we thought it would be appropriate to have a seminar devoted directly to managing margins in the downturn.” The Iowa Pork Congress is being held at the Iowa Events Center through Thursday. Also, the 9th annual Youth Swine Judging contest will be held Thursday at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

(By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)