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PEDv, Water Suit Hot Topics at Pork Congress

Producers are in high spirits at the Iowa Pork Congress in Des Moines today. Hog markets are profitable and herd disease levels low, at least for the time being.

The deadly PED virus, which infected about 60% of the nation's sows last year, is still circulating in herds, but at lower levels than one year ago, says Algona, Iowa, veterinarian Matt Anderson. However, it's too soon to breathe easy, he says. Last year the worst "explosive pockets" hit in February through April. "Let's see what the next few months bring," says Anderson.

Another topic of concern to producers is the Des Moines Water Walks notice of intent to sue 10 drainage districts in three Iowa counties under the Clean Water Act. Is discharge from field tile lines point source pollution? Farmers are not sure how this will play out.

Attorney Eldon McAfee told producers to be extra careful about manure applications this winter. No applications are allowed on frozen or snow-covered ground until April 1. It's 50 degrees today, so nothing is frozen. "Remember, Iowa law requires that manure must not cause water pollution," says McAfee. Better safe than sorry.

Economist Steve Meyer sees good news for feed costs this year, especially soybean meal. "I'm bearish on beans; we will have lower prices by the end of the year. I would get my 2015 beans sold now," he told farmers.

Meyer sees corn prices staying between $3.50 and $4.25 for the next decade. Yes, 10 years.

As for biofuels, he says, "growing oil and gas output will limit ethanol."

Demand is growing for red meat, including pork, says Meyer, with "a remarkable run for beef the past four months." Chicken demand has not benefited as much, he says.

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