Prestage Foods of Iowa to negotiate a price for pigs in Feb

Iowa Pork Congress kicked off today in Des Moines and Successful Farming caught up with Prestage Foods of Iowa.

Iowa Pork Congress kicked off today in Des Moines, and Successful Farming caught up with Eric Hogle (right), director of livestock procurement with Prestage Foods of Iowa, to get an update on the company’s new pork plant near Eagle Grove.

SF: What’s your message to pork producers today?

EH: We have another marketing opportunity for them. When you have an extra load here and there, we can negotiate a price and get them in the door. By the second week of February, we will have approval from the USDA Ag Marketing Service that the price we pay for pigs will be reported under the mandatory price reporting statutes. Our goal is to buy 10% to 15% of all of our pigs on the spot market.

READ MORE: Take a tour of the new Prestage Foods pork plant

SF: How should producers contact you?

EH: Call me at 515-448-2751. I would be able to answer any questions from getting you set up, to logistics, scheduling, and negotiations for any sales. It doesn’t matter if you have 10 pigs, a semi load, or 10 semi loads, we are willing to negotiate on any group of pigs that is out there.

SF: Give us an update on the plant.

EH: The plant is just over 80% of capacity. Right now we are doing 8,200 pigs per day. We still have a goal of being full capacity, 10,000 pigs per day, at our one-year anniversary March 1. It’s going to be a tough road to get there, but we should be pretty close.

SF: Are you thinking about a second shift?

EH: One of the overarching goals is to make sure we have the labor supply available to process the first-shift capacity, including all of our value-added items. A second shift isn’t on the books until we get up to a full first shift.

SF: Besides labor, what issues do you face?

EH: The biggest thing in the industry right now is African swine fever in China. It presents a great opportunity for the U.S. industry to export meat internationally. As a plant, we are exporting up to 30% of all our raw material out of the country. It’s our goal is to maintain that.

SF: The disease could be a disaster if it reaches the U.S.

EH: There is tremendous risk with the number of international travelers and the number of countries that have African swine fever today. As long as everybody is following biosecurity protocols, and the government with border and customs patrols at airports are doing their job, we should be able to minimize our risk.

SF: How much of the harvest at the plant is from Prestage Farms?

EH: About 60% to 65% of of the pigs in the plant are Prestage.

SF: Is the company expanding?

EH: We are very content staying steady with the numbers where we are throughout the entire company. If we grow, it’s productivity growth, not by putting new sows on the ground.
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