Jim Long Pork Commentary, Iowa Pork Congress Report Glimmer of Hope, January 29th 2024


We participated at the Iowa Pork Congress last week. Held in Des Moines, it is the premier swine event in the winter months.

Our Observations

  • There appeared to be less people than in other years. Still, lots of exhibitors but it seemed less than previous years. All a reflection we suspect from an industry suffering from red ink.
  • The glimmer of hope. We work on the premise of one of my father’s sayings “Who’s calling whom.” He always considered this a big indicator of market direction.
  • For the longest time it’s been sellers calling buyers to sell cash market hogs or small pigs (Feeders – SEWS).
  • At the Pork Congress we heard from several different sources that the pendulum had swung. Packers were calling for market hogs. Finishers were calling for small pigs. The “Who is calling whom” dynamic is in play. This to us is a sign the market shift has begun a shift to higher. The glimmer of hope.
  • There is no doubt talking to people in our industry the losses have affected almost everyone both producers and vendors. There is emotion in the marketplace with all looking for change in fortunes.
  • All indications to us indicate the breeding herd is continuing to shrink. There is liquidation ongoing. It’s somewhat like Prolapse Is Coming its involuntary culling. The financial losses of $30 per head over the last 15 months is leading to involuntary herd liquidation.
  • Speaking of Prolapses. Since we write about it. Producers at the Congress told us their own horror stories of the number of prolapses just before farrowing’s. Ouch, as if there aren’t enough other ways not to make money in this business. One asked if the Gene Editing would eliminate prolapses. Then wondered if a company says they can fix PRRS in the future why can’t they fix prolapses now.
  • Last week we called the Marco Island, Florida swine conference put on by NPPC the “Davos” of the pork industry. An NPPC participant took quite an exception to our characterization in a passionate way with us. We respect their defense and argument on NPPC behalf. We all want a prosperous pork industry.
  • David Newman is Senior Vice President of Market Growth for the National Pork Board. He spoke at Iowa Pork Congress. It was great to hear David say the Number 1 priority at the National Pork Board is Pork Demand. Some of David’s points in his presentation:
    • Main issue of pork consumption are Nutrition and Taste.
    • Average American eats 220 lbs. of meat, 49 lbs. of Pork, 120 lbs. of Chicken.
    • 15% of people who identify as “vegetarian” eat bacon.
    • Hispanic Americans eat more pork than any other group (editor’s note: looking at picture of U.S. southern border, looks like pork consumption should be growing).
    • U.S. consumer will decide pork industry survivability.

David Newman’s message from Pork Board is refreshing that demand is being recognized as the priority. Taste is what brings back repeat customers. David and the Pork Board have a job getting an industry obsessed with cost and through put (fabricators) to recognize the value of delivering a better taste to the consumers. The consumer who will decide our survivability. What’s the saying, “Adapt or die.”


Iowa Pork Congress was good to see so many people committed to the pork industry. The resilience of producers and industry people is remarkable. Pork producers are optimistic by nature it’s a way you need to be. It’s not a government job with set hours and a pension. It’s in the trenches with Darwinian Capitalism. We believe the pendulum has swung “Who’s calling whom”, lean hog futures up, feed prices down. Not yet the shining light on the hill, but definitely a glimmer, a glimmer of hope.

Members of Genesus at the Iowa Pork Congress