hogs huddled together at hog farm Scott Olson_Getty Images News

Industry survey takes pulse of U.S. pork production

Survey found 95% of producers in full compliance with new federal antibiotic rules.

U.S. pork producers are not only well aware of new federal rules for on-farm antibiotic use, but they already are complying. In a survey conducted by the National Pork Board (NPB) in November, 95% of producers surveyed said they were ready to be fully compliant by the time the rules took effect on Jan. 1, 2017.

“The pork industry worked toward the Jan. 1 implementation date for nearly two years. There was a concern that some producers would not make changes until after the date of implementation, but that does not seem to be the case,” said NPB president Jan Archer, a pork producer from Goldsboro, N.C.

In addition to information about antibiotic use changes, NPB’s annual November survey was designed to take the pulse of U.S. pork production.

The survey showed that for the seventh consecutive year, pork producer support for the pork checkoff increased and is now at a record 91%, up 1% from the 2015 survey. Meanwhile, opposition to the checkoff remains at a record low 4%. These results are the most positive in the history of the survey.

Other highlights included:

  • Right direction/wrong track - 76% of producers said the industry is heading “in the right direction,” improving from the previous year’s score of 70%. Of those surveyed, 19% feel that the industry is “on the wrong track.” This improvement in optimism is encouraging despite the market supply pressure many are feeling with lower prices for pigs.
  • The biggest challenge facing producers is “too many rules/regulations.” In previous years, the main challenge was viewed as “managing hog health and disease.” That previously number-one concern fell to number four this year - a significant drop.
  • Producers’ single most important request of the checkoff is to educate consumers on pork production and the industry. This was followed closely by advertising and promoting pork and opening new markets.

“America’s pig farmers understand that growing domestic and export demand for pork is critical, but it all starts with building trust,” Archer said. “This survey bears out that it begins with educating consumers about how pigs are raised, pork’s safety and its nutritional value.”

In response to specific questions about NPB’s strategic plan implemented early in 2015, the awareness and importance of each goal (on a 10-point scale) remains strong:

  • "Build consumer trust" rated a mean score of 8.91 (a decrease from 9.04 in 2015).
  • "Grow consumer demand" rated a mean score of 8.70 (an increase from 8.63 in 2015).
  • "Drive sustainable production" rated a mean score of 8.18 (an increase from 7.96 in 2015).

“Clearly, the implementation of the strategic plan is aligned with the concerns, interests and thoughts of producers,” Archer said. “Pig farmers tell us that their investment in the pork checkoff is at work, with 17 defined objectives directly supporting each of the three goals.”

This most recent national survey is based on phone interviews with 550 producers across the country.

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