Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability


2014 Banff Pork Seminar

Inside BPS Blog

News from the Meristem editors from inside the 2014 Banff Pork Seminar.

Passion for Pork program set to grow

Date posted: January 23, 2014

Darcy Fitzgerald

Alberta Pork's innovative and high energy Passion for Pork promotion program has turned in an impressive report card since its launch. And that sets the program up for growth in the years ahead, says Darcy Fitzgerald, executive director of Alberta Pork.

In a presentation to the 2014 Banff Pork Seminar, Fitzgerald explained the program, which was designed to stimulate pork consumption, had a broader goal in mind. That was to change the fundamental relationship among all the players in the value chain so that they all profit while improving the eating experience for the consumer.

There have been some tough times in the industry over the past decade with producer numbers dropping by 70 percent and sow numbers more than 60 percent, says Fitzgerald. "We are at a point where one might question the viability of our industry."

Passion for Pork gives us a voice and a story for consumers to hear. But it also allows the producer, packer, retailer and food service industry to work together where most appropriate to one another.

"By getting out in front of consumers, we change the fate of our industry by driving more demand for Alberta and Canadian pork products at the retail level. Many producers want a closer relationship with local producers because more of their customers want to know who is growing their food.

"They want the food production story that meets their needs and gives them comfort."

Multi-pronged strategy

The Passion for Pork effort brought together a number of tools to accomplish this.

Anchor to the program is the website www.passionforpork.com. That was complemented with media strategy to draw people to the website for pork recipes and for educational materials on various cuts of pork and how to cook them. All of that was done with a goal of supporting retailers, processors and food service who sell Alberta pork.

An aggressive social media campaign allowed us to rise above the chatter on mainstream media that often portrays the industry in a negative light and engage audiences in a fun and dynamic way. That included engaging several high profile food bloggers in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.

Where do we go from here?

Upcoming plans are for a refinement and expansion of the program, says Fitzgerald, with new efforts such as working with firefighters in a new community initiative, new processor relationships and broadening out the program to more regions of Canada.

"The Whole Pig" shows the power of people

Date posted: January 23, 2014

Teresa Van Raay

One of the most powerful stories in agriculture is the personal success story of individual farmers who have had a vision and carried it through.

Ontario pork producer, Teresa Van Raay told the 2014 Banff Pork Seminar her story of "The Whole Pig."

Farrow-to-finish producers for 28 years, the family decided to branch out and "The Whole Pig, Delivering pork from our farm to your freezer" was born.

Best place to find out all about her story is the farm website www.thewholepig.ca. Check it carefully. This farm runs on passion.

"Selling something we grow is personal as we are asking people to put our pork in their mouths," she says. "There has to be trust and trust is meeting the farmer.

"We are two percent of the population feeding 100 percent of the people who eat. I believe we need to keep up the personal contact and that can be done with social media. However we need to do more. We need to step out and be honored to be the farmer behind the food."

Lessons in farm labor management

Date posted: January 23, 2014

Nick Holden

There were many lessons on the tough issue of finding and keeping farm labor in the "Making the most of labor" breakout session at the 2014 Banff Pork Seminar.

Here are two key ones.

Be innovative

Nick Holden of Holden Farms in Northfield, Minnesota, has a significant labor requirement with a 47,000 sow system and more than 200 family farmer partners in that state and Iowa.

He says their operation realizes that more of their future labor force will never have worked on a farm and as a result investing in more resources to attract staff development will be critical to their success.

Have a "24/7" presence," so that people can find you and be continually recruiting, he says. He gave the example of driving by a Target store and seeing a sign that says "Hiring now." His goal is to have their company name continually showing up where potential employees can stumble across it.

Be innovative in approaches. Traditional newspaper ads are read less so have an online presence. Young people use mobile phones.

Think outside your industry and look for ways to attract managers from other industries. That's a much deeper pool of talent. Be less concerned that people did not grow up on a farm. People working in other industries did not grow up in that world; they learned it.

Sell the benefits of pork employment. Things like flexible schedules will appeal to some people where they can match time off with a spouse. Different languages can be accommodated more easily.

Portia MacDonald-Dewhirstn

Get resources

You're not alone in your search for high quality labor says Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, executive director of the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC), a national, non-profit organization focused on addressing human resource issues in the ag industry across Canada.

The same issues faced by agriculture are being faced by other industries so finding and keeping high-quality workers needs to be a careful strategic effort, she says. It is an investment in the people side of your business.

CAHRC has built a tremendous inventory of easy-to-use, easily accessible resources for staff, supervisors and managers to help attract and keep high quality talent, says MacDonald-Dewhirst.

"There are training opportunities, workshops, reference tools, templates, self-study guides, an HR toolkit and consulting support," she says. "It's all at www.cahrc-ccrha.ca."

Time to step up on food security

Date posted: January 23, 2014

Jose Cardenas


It's a powerful word on its own. Even more powerful combined with the word "food."

Enough food for all. Food security.

"It's time to solve the greatest issue of our time, securing the food we need to feed the world," says Jose Cardenas with Elanco USA. "We need to increase food production and decrease resource use. We have a window of time but the time to act is now," he told the 2014 Banff Pork Seminar.

The growing protein gap

When agriculture productivity lags, food gaps appear, says Cardenas. "This isn't a prediction, it's a reality," he says. For example, the 2013 Global Protein Gap analysis estimates that by 2020 the global population won't have access to one glass of milk a day on average.

"Today, globally, we have access to about a glass a day or equivalent on average. The recommended daily intake is two glasses a day. On our current productivity path, more than 500 million people won't have access to even a glass a day.

"If we look at securing two glasses of milk that our bodies really need for growth and cognitive development, the gap grows to 4.5 billion people leaving about half the population without access to milk. That's five trillion servings short."

Rewriting the story

"We can rewrite the story," says Cardenas.

"Unlike many global challenges we have solutions to this problem if we act now. There are many pathways to this solution but there is general agreement that three solutions stand out as the most significant, can have the most impact and can be acted on the quickest."

  1. Innovation. The products, practices and genetics that help farmers produce more food more sustainably. Many of these innovations are already available and proven.

    "We must enable innovation more now than at any other time in our history," says Cardenas. "We must raise the bar on safety, but regulatory bodies that approve innovations must be the ultimate authority. We can't allow fringe movements or non-factual information to turn into the wrong policies and marketplace confusion that ultimately takes away proven solutions."

  2. Choice. Farmers need to be able to choose the right practices for their operations. Consumers need to be able to choose food that fits their price, taste and nutritional needs. And we need regulators and policy-makers to make science-based policy choices. Choice must not be taken away without a fact-based, legitimate reason from science-based regulators.

  3. Trade. Trade is the mechanism that allows us to produce food where it is most economical and sustainable and deliver it to people who need it. Pure economics and environment prove that food must move from the most to the least productive area for a food secure tomorrow. Politics need to be reduced and trade needs to increase in parallel with local advances in food production.

A food secure tomorrow

Food security is solvable. Population growth will plateau between nine and 10 billion people. Unlike many of the world's challenges such as Alzheimer's, autoimmune disease, there are clear solutions, says Cardenas. "There is a window of time to meet the challenge. We have enough time if we act now."

"The next few years will determine if we have enough food to meet demand or if we deter middle class growth and disrupt global and environmental stability for decades to come. A healthier, more sustainable, more peaceful world is possible."

A new option

Cardenas called on his audience join a new initiative on food security launched by Elanco. They can do that by vising www.sensibletable.com, signing and sharing the "Enough manifesto," and engaging in social media conversation.

Recapture the dignity of raising animals for food

Date posted: January 24, 2014

Dr. Nelson Kloosterman

Activists are using religion and children as two powerful tools to wage war against the livestock industry, and producers and their industry need to recapture the moral high ground in raising livestock, says Dr. Nelson Kloosterman.

To do that they need to think stewardship, he told the 2014 Banff Pork Seminar.

Kloosterman is executive director and ethics consultant for Worldview Resources International, a service organization with a mission to provide resources designed to assist in understanding and applying a religious worldview to responsible living.

First step, says Kloosterman, is to understand what he calls the ideology of food tyranny, the "political groupthink" characterized by manipulation, coercion and violence.

Religion is a powerful tool of propaganda, he says. There is a tremendous ignorance in the public about religion and a tremendous ignorance about animal stewardship. Anti-livestock groups deliberately use religious terms to their advantage.

For example, a bumper sticker "Thou shalt not kill. Go vegetarian" uses the sixth commandment to make a point about livestock production. Another says "He died for your sins. Go vegetarian." referring to Jesus Christ showing an image of him on the cross.

"If you think these slogans are innocuous or benign you need to realize that many people are coming under the influence of this use of religion in service to animal rights, in service to what they call animal welfare, in direct opposition to the very vocation you are practicing," says Kloosterman.

The use of children to sell the message is another tactic. Targeting children to identify farm animals as pets, or to portray young people as having the solutions and older generations to be set in their ways is a deliberate tactic.

Language is another tool. Bumper stickers such as "Eating meat stops a beating heart" makes a direct connection with the practice of legalized abortion. That effort goes well beyond the boundaries of moral discourse, says Kloosterman.

Three recommendations

Kloosterman has three recommendations for the livestock industry all based around recalling a position of stewardship.

First, practice comprehensive transparency. "Be confident enough about what you are doing, why you are doing it and how you are doing it to let other people in the barn to watch you work."

Second, move beyond advocacy to public service. Advocacy is important but organizations should move beyond simply serving producers to serving the public, he says.

Third, partner with animal science educators. Part of the advantage the other side enjoys is that with their terms, language, manipulation and coercion they've been able to capture the moral high ground because they are assisted by academics and others who know how to craft the message.

The livestock industry needs message-makers and communicators who meet the opposition on their turf, he says.

"This will cost money. I'm suggesting if the animal industry in North America wishes to survive, it will have to allocate a significant part of its budget to precisely this kind of thing."

Ruurd's Wrap-up on BPS 2014

Date posted: January 23, 2014

Ruurd Zijlstra

It started with strong energy, delivered in spades with excellent speakers and discussion, and concluded with a call to action on a new threat. The backdrop was great weather and stunning scenery. All in all it was a dynamic opportunity for a broad cross section of the pork sector to talk progress and innovation to build a successful future.

BPS program director Ruurd Zijlstra kept his closing remarks short and simple, since many had stayed overtime for an extended Boar Pit session.

"Obviously the day ended with not the message we wanted to here on PED, but of course we are very happy with the conference." says Zijlstra. "The success is largely because of our great sponsors, our advisory board and our conference coordinator. We strive to have a good program with excellent networking opportunities and this is the tradition we plan to continue. Your feedback is important and we welcome it. We look forward to another great event in 2015."

Boar Pit Part Two: Optimism and new Code

Date posted: January 23, 2014

Steve Meyer

There was more to the Boar Pit session than PED.

Glass half full

The boar pit blocked time to make sure other topics could be discussed and one of these was the generally encouraging indications of what the future holds for the prospects of pork producers and their industry. Despite the news on PED, the overall outlook for Canadian pork production is very positive, says Steve Meyer of Paragon Economics. "In fact it's excellent, particularly for the next two years."

"It's a very good outlook in terms of reduced costs and profitability," he says. "We're looking at profits of $25 per head for most operations and up to $40 per head from some of the top ones." He noted he doesn't see any further inroad of PED in Canada affecting price in a negative way.

Dissecting the Code of Practice

Also discussed was how Canada is closing in on a major milestone to complete a new Code of Practice for the care and handling of pigs. There has been a lot of debate around this particularly on the issue of sow housing. Consensus has been reached on the new Code but details will not be officially released until it is finalized in a couple months, likely in March.

Claude Vielfaure

Producer Claude Vielfaure has been involved in the Code development process and was asked "In your mind what's real in this new Code that will affect producers when it hits the ground?"

"Four things were probably the most contentious around the Code development table," says Vielfaure. "Group housing. Space requirement for nursery and finishing. Euthanasia and enrichment. These were by far the hottest topics negotiated."

On sow housing the clause in the draft Code has changed significantly based on producer and industry response during a Public Comment Period. "I think with this change the result reached will keep our industry competitive and hopefully most producers will be comfortable with it."

U.S. based Steve Meyer was asked his opinion. "We approach this differently in the U.S. The short answer is we see the Code approach as 'Canada's PED,'" he quipped, "We'd like it to stay on your side of the border."

Boar pit tackles PED bombshell (Part One)

Date posted: January 23, 2014

Dr. Doug MacDougald

Just before the BPS boar pit session kicked off a bombshell had dropped - news of the first case of deadly pig virus "PED" confirmed in Canada. Understandably this topic dominated the session, which is designed as an open-format, no-hold-barred, frank and interactive discussion of the hot issues in pork production.

Leading the session were three panelists, including producer Claude Vielfaure , Dr. Doug MacDougald of SouthWest Ontario Veterinary Services and economist Steve Meyer of Paragon Economics, along with moderator Shannon Meyers of Fast Genetics.

Managing a potential crisis

Porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) has become a major problem for the U.S. pork industry recently. Dr. Doug MacDougald has been at the forefront of Canada's effort to understand and rally support for precautions to limit PED risk. He provided an update based on the day's news.

"There's a 500 sow farrow-to-finish operation confirmed positive as of today," says MacDougald. "It's a closed herd. At this point there is no short-list of probable introductions of the virus. The direction today is containment. The direction is also to follow contacts on where people, supplies and equipment have gone. As of today and tomorrow the focus is marshalling resources and doing extensive investigating. We will know 30 hours from now on at least the initial contacts to this farm if it has spread by those means or not."

There is no need to raise panic, he says. "There are a lot of misconceptions on the manner and speed of how this has spread in U.S. It may be acting like a supervirus, but folks it's not. It's a coronavirus, there's good history and knowledge, and we know if it's handled right in most situations, the track record is sow herds can eliminate this in 90 to 100 days."

"The most important thing in a case like we've found today is put your arms around and contain it. That's what's happening now." More cases are likely and the industry is expected to enter a lock-down mentality to limit spread. Several participants noted the risk has been very high given the close interaction between the Canadian and U.S. industries, so while the news is not welcome it is also not surprising. The tone in the room reflected a resolve to make good decisions and work diligently to turn a challenging situation into a speed bump that will not derail a Canadian pork sector that has been looking very strong.

R.O. Ball Young Scientist winners announced

Date posted: January 23, 2014

(L to R) Natalie May, Dr. Michael Dyck, Award Committee chair, and Xun Zhou

Two winners of the R. O. Ball Young Scientist award were announced at the 2014 Banff Pork Seminar (BPS).

The award is named after long-time researcher and former BPS program director, Dr. Ron Ball. it recognizes outstanding young scientists and is awarded to graduate students who provide a best overall combination of good and relevant science, well-written abstract and excellent presentation.

First prize went Xun Zhou of the University of Alberta, for his research paper topic "Nutrient digestibility of solvent-extracted B. napus and B. juncea canola meals and their air-classified fractions to growing pigs."

Second prize was awarded to Natalie May, also of the University of Alberta for her topic "Selection of superior sires and identification of seminal plasma proteins associated with boar fertility."

Sow housing: Six things to know

Date posted: January 23, 2014

Jennifer Brown talks housing
options at BPS

Animal care has taken the spotlight at BPS 2014 and one of the best places to get an overview of many of the key developments on this issue is the breakout session on sow housing.

As part of this session, Dr. Jennifer Brown of the Prairie Swine Centre delivered some valuable perspective on what the science says regarding the question of "group or stalls." Here's a quick snapshot of the bottom line messages:

1. There are both advantages and disadvantages to housing sows in stalls and groups

2. The main advantages of stalls relate to their ability to provide individual nutrition and care to sows, and the elimination of injuries associated with aggression at mixing

3. However, due to the restriction of sow activity in stalls, freedom of movement and the ability to perform a variety of behaviours are extremely limited

4. The advantages of group housing are that sows have the opportunity to perform a broader range of behaviours and thus receive more exercise, with a range of associated health benefits

5. The main drawbacks of group systems are the increased incidence of sow injuries related to mixing aggression and competition at feeding which can result in uneven feed distribution

6. Many of the concerns related to group housing (such as aggression and injury) can be resolved with good system design and stockmanship

Ritz announces new support for pork sector at BPS

Date posted: January 23, 2014

Gerry Ritz

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced 15 million dollars in support for the pork sector in an address to the 2014 Banff Pork Seminar. The funding will be invested over the next five years to work with Canada Pork International to help differentiate and promote Canadian pork in markets such as Japan the European Union and key targets in South America.

"These dollars will support market-focused initiatives, such as organizing promotional activities in priority markets, investigating and reporting on export market opportunities, undertaking missions to targeted markets and of course hosting incoming missions from those targeted markets," says Ritz.

"The Canadian pork sector's ability to adapt to changing trade environments while still providing high-quality pork and competitive pricing makes it well positioned to compete in both established and emerging markets here and around the world. The overall goal remains to ensure long-term prosperity for pork producers and processors and the industry as a whole."

Foxcroft Honorary Lecture 2014: Gilt and sow management

Date posted: January 22, 2014

Dr. William Flowers, (left) and Dr. George Foxcroft

Each year the Banff Pork Seminar pays tribute to swine research pioneer and industry icon, Dr. George Foxcroft with an honorary lectureship.

The 2014 lecture featured a presentation by Dr. William Flowers of North Carolina State University entitled "Gilt and sow management on farm with high sow longevity."

The lecture was part of a breakout session entitled "Long live the hyperprolific sow," a fitting focus for the thinking behind the lecture design. That is to bring in the very best speakers with a goal of increasing production efficiency.

'The CSR Factor' and NGO influence

Date posted: January 22, 2014

Dallas Hockman

The "Corporate Responsibility Report" is a relatively new phenomenon among the major food brands and companies of the world. And it's not only influencing expectations but driving new demands, says Dallas Hockman, Vice President, Industry Relations, with the National Pork Producers Council.

As part of a broader talk on social pressures, Hockman noted that as this becomes a standard part of corporate governance in the food sector, it is creating more focus and incentives for action. "Once you have the reports, you need to put something in the reports. You want to have things to point to that demonstrate you are doing a good job," he says. "No question it's having an impact."

It's not just the reports, he says. Companies today are bringing on more and more corporate responsibility or corporate sustainability staff, departments and major initiatives. "It's going on in all the big brands. They are facing the same pressures we are at the production level and they need to show they are good stewards of everything from the environment to animal welfare. So we have an overall environment of our customers, these companies, wanting to demonstrate progress."

The overall dynamic between producers and these customers is changing rapidly, he says. "If you look at the supply chain historically it's a fairly simple model. We had the producer and then the processor, who that dealt directly with the grocers and restaurants. It was a business-to-business relationship based on supply and price, product availability - those types of basic factors. Today we've seen NGOs, like in our case the Humane Society of the United States, insert themselves into this and it is really changing the game."

Strong turnout for BPS 2014

Date posted: January 22, 2014

The bit of a traffic jam at the registration desk was a good sign of the turnout for the 2014 Banff Pork Seminar. With over 500 delegates pre-registered and a steady stream of walk-ins, it looks like attendance could be well north of 550 in total says BPS coordinator Marliss Wolfe Lafreniere.

Warm weather and good food and hospitality brought out a strong turnout for the welcome reception Tuesday as afternoon and evening as well. All of that's a good sign of industry interest and a welcome start to what promises to be a great seminar.

Piglet processing innovation wins BPS Aherne Award

Date posted: January 22, 2014

Helmut Janz (left) Aherne Award winner and Dr. Michael Dyck, chair of the F.X.Aherne prize committee.

Helmut Janz developed a tool that improves handling for baby pigs at processing and improves the health and wellbeing of farm workers. For that he has been awarded the 2014 F.X. Aherne Prize for Innovative Pork Production by the Banff Pork Seminar.

Janz, a barn manager for Maple Leaf in Zhoda, Man. recognized the need for a better way to process baby piglets when he saw employees suffer repetitive stress and strain injuries as a result of performing piglet processing tasks.

His "piglet processing arm" invention gently and safely holds the animal and allows it to be pivoted and rotated during the handling process. This makes the processing of piglets a safer task by eliminating the potential for repetitive stress and strain injuries on the employees.

The design is simple, constructed out of six simple, standardized, easy-to-source, low cost parts.

A universal joint similar to what is used on power take off shafts on tractors serves as the basis for the device. A holding plate for the piglets is attached to that and mounted on the processing cart. Foam inserts cradle the piglet and a Velcro strap easily holds the piglet in place.

The processing arm attaches to a processing cart, and can be adjusted for employee height and used easily by both right and left handed people.

With this new tool processing tasks such as injections, tattooing, castrating, tail docking and oral drenching can now all be done with the piglet in the cradle by simply swiveling the arm to the correct position. Since the piglet can be processed without being held and squeezed by staff, there is less stress on the animal and far less repetitive stress on the staff.

The arm is now used by 40 people in 20 barns across the Maple Leaf system and will be used on approximately 1.5 million piglets annually.

As well, Maple Leaf is now manufacturing new custom designed carts for their barns with two arms. Use of the carts will be a mandatory part of operating procedures because they are seen as an important opportunity to improve injury prevention.

"Innovation is the lifeblood of any industry and the F.X. Aherne Prize for Innovative Pork Production is an opportunity to recognize those individuals who have developed either original solutions to pork production challenges or creative uses of known technology," says Dr. Michael Dyck of the University of Alberta, chair of the F.X. Aherne prize committee.

The award is named after the late Dr. Frank Aherne, a professor of swine nutrition and production at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and a major force for science-based progress in the western Canadian pork industry.

Piglet Processing Arm invention photos

Larger version of photos are available on the Seminar Photos page.


The thinking behind the theme

Date posted: January 22, 2014

Don Down
Don Down BPS chair

"Today's challenge, tomorrow's opportunities."

When the Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) advisory committee picked its 2014 theme it reflected a consistent message that committee members heard repeatedly, says Don Down BPS chair.

"The industry is ready to take on challenges but more than just being ready, it must move forward to capture the opportunities."

"There are several challenges," Down told his Banff audience in opening the 2014 Seminar, "but I want to mention three in particular."

  • Trade issues. We are working through COOL issues with our closest trading partner, and we continue to look for opportunities in countries such as Russia and Korea.
  • Social pressures. The ability of our industry to produce abundant, safe affordable food is always under pressure from advocacy groups.
  • Health. The impact of PED in the US has been significant. It has certainly impacted producers as well as the markets.

Along with challenges come opportunities:

  • Corn prices are much lower. The 2013 corn yield was 30 percent larger than 2012 on 500,000 more harvested acres.
  • The Canadian dollar: The dollar is trading at $0.92-$0.93 currently versus par or slightly above par a year ago.
  • Demand: It's up.
  • Carcass weights: The impact of PED resulting in fewer hogs marketed is also pulling carcass weights up. Can we deliver this economically?

"Embracing our challenges will lead us to future opportunity," he says. That thinking drove the selection of topics and speakers for the 2014 Seminar.

Down paid tribute to the 2014 BPS advisory committee which brings together top people from across Canada who donate their time and resources to develop the BPS program. From east to west they include:


  • Michel Vignola, Nutreco and Sylven Blouin, Agri Marche


  • John Otten, South West Veterinary Services

Manitoba: Steffen Klink, PIC

  • Saskatchewan: Nancy Lidster, DNL Farms


  • Ruurd Zijlstra, University of Alberta, BPS Program Director
  • Marliss Wolfe Lafreniere, BPS Coordinator
  • Michael Dyck, University of Alberta
  • Geoff Geddes, Alberta Pork
  • Ron Gietz, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development
  • Bob Kemp, Genesus Inc. (Vice Chair)
  • Martin Bowman, Verus Alliance
  • Dawn Magrath, Innovative Veterinary Services Inc.
  • Mark Chambers, Sunterra Farms

PIC Canada a core BPS supporter

Date posted: January 21, 2014

Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) brings together a global perspective on the pork industry and genetics is a major player in that world.

PIC, a "Sustaining Sponsor" of BPS, delivers healthy genetic improvement to pig industries around the world.

PIC describes itself as the international leader in providing genetically superior pig breeding stock and technical support for maximizing genetic potential to the global pork chain. PIC combines quantitative sciences with leading edge biotechnology to develop non-GMO breeding stock that is focused on meeting the needs of its customers.

This approach provides healthier animals that cost less to produce and provide higher quality products to customers. Operating for over 40 years, PIC's success is attributed to its thorough concentration and significant investment in aspects of genetics, technology and health.

"PIC sees the Banff Pork Seminar as one of the premier events for the Canadian pork industry," says Tabatha Jeter, marketing director. "It is an opportunity to see many of our customers and potential customers in one place. We have chosen to support the Seminar because of its programming and reach within the industry.

"We hope delegates to the 2014 Seminar will check out our display. We will showcase our expanded product lineup as well as our new technical services initiatives of Triple 2's for wean to finish and 35 PSY."

The latest on PED at 2014 Banff Pork Seminar

Date posted: January 15, 2014

Protecting Canada's pork industry from PED

Porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) has become a major problem for the U.S. pork industry recently.

Because of the massive potential impact on the North American industry and to support efforts to prevent this disease from spreading into Canada, the topic of PED will be discussed in detail at the 2014 Banff Pork Seminar (BPS), says Ruurd Zijlstra, program director.

Watch for these three opportunities during the BPS 2014 to hear the latest on PED:

  • On Wednesday, Jan. 22, directly following opening remarks at 8:15 by Don Down, chair of the BPS Advisory Board, Dr. Doug MacDougald of South West Ontario Veterinary Services will provide key pointers on PED, before the start of the plenary session.
  • In the afternoon breakout session entitled 'Swine Health Update', transport biosecurity, which is a major risk factor in the spread of the PED virus, will be discussed by Dr. Martin Misener, also of South West Ontario Veterinary Services.
  • In the Thursday, Jan. 23 Boar Pit session at 4:00 p.m., PED will be one of three topics discussed by the panel which includes Dr. Doug MacDougald. Because of the interest in the topic PED, the Boar Pit session has been extended past 5:00 p.m. to ensure that all questions about PED can be answered properly. The reception has been extended too.

Fast walk-in registration

Date posted: January 14, 2014

If you missed pre-conference registration for the 2014 Banff Pork Seminar, the good news is that you haven't missed out on the option to attend. Walk-in registrations are welcom, says seminar coordinator Marliss Wolfe Lafreniere.

To speed up your registration process, BPS has provided a walk-in registration form. It's located here ((link)) and on the Seminar website www.banffpork.ca.

As with all pre-conference, registration includes a copy of the seminar proceedings, lunch and coffee / networking breaks Jan. 22 and 23 and receptions on Jan. 21 and 23.

A thank you to our sponsors

Date posted: January 14, 2014

The sponsors for 2014 Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) will be acknowledged in a number of ways throughout the event. What may not be clear as sponsors are showcased is the impact their support has on every delegate attending.

"This support is the financial lifeblood of our seminar," says BPS chair Don Down. "It helps us keep our registration fees down and to have the resources to attract the best speakers.

"We offer our sincere thank you to the major sponsors for the 2014 event."

Sustaining Sponsors

  • Alberta Pork
  • Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency Ltd.
  • PIC

Premier Plus sponsors

  • Dept. of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta
  • Biomin Canada
  • Canadian Centre for Swine Improvement Inc.
  • Elanco Animal Health
  • Hypor Inc., A Hendrix Genetics Company
  • Maple Leaf Foods Inc.
  • Merck Animal Health
  • Nutreco Canada Inc./Landmark Feeds
  • Olymel
  • Zoetis

Premier sponsors

  • Canadian Bio-Systems Inc.; Carlo Genetics Inc.; Conception Ro-Main Inc.; DuPont; Farm Credit Canada; Fast Genetics Inc.; Merial Canada Inc.; South West Ontario Veterinary Services; TOPIGS Canada Inc.; Western Hog Exchange; and Zinpro Performance Minerals.

Media notice: You are welcome at BPS 2014

Date posted: January 1, 2014

Each year, when the Banff Pork Seminar organizing committee sits down to look ahead to pick a theme and speakers for the coming seminar, the topic suggestions they come up with often come from media coverage somewhere in the world.

It's a clear example of the integration of production agriculture with progress, challenges and issues that affect society in a broad sense. And when Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) brings in the best speakers on leading topics, they understand that what once was newsworthy only for trade now may also attract the antennae of mainstream media, says BPS program director, Ruurd Zijlstra.

"We make a strong effort to ensure we welcome media of all types to our seminar and that they understand they can participate in whatever way works best for them," says Zijlstra.

"For one thing, we provide information that media and industry or organizers can use. News releases, news features, the Inside BPS news blog and selected photos are all available in a Special Report available through a link at www.banffpork.ca."

Media are encouraged to attend BPS personally. A BPS Media Advisory is sent to selected media across Canada and internationally inviting them to attend and explaining how and where they can get assistance. That advisory is also available at the "Media Assistance" button on that Special Report page.

Finally, media, including industry organization communications people, can customize their own experience by using a combination of their own and provided information.

"Again this year Geoff Geddes, communications specialist with Alberta Pork will be available during the Seminar to take media calls for assistance," says Zijlstra. "Media can attend all or selected sessions, or can contact specific speakers directly. And Geoff is available throughout the seminar to help."

"We live in a global age and the pork industry is an excellent example of that transparency and worldly connectivity," Zijlstra adds. "We find interest comes not only from Canada but across North America and internationally. And we are very aware that the world expects our industry and this seminar, as a leading knowledge source, to operate transparently."

ALMA sponsor support helps anchor BPS success

Date posted: January 1, 2014

For the past five years the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA) has been a "Sustaining Sponsor" for the Banff Pork Seminar (BPS). It's the kind of anchor support that allows BPS to continue to provide the very best speakers in the field and attract delegates from across North America and around the world, says BPS chair Don Down.

For many of those years ALMA President and CEO Gordon Cove has had a firsthand view of BPS proceedings because he has attended the event himself.

Cove says that ALMA is a BPS sponsor because the entire organization, from organizers to presenters, clearly demonstrates the industry's commitment to invigorating the pork supply chain.

"ALMA's role as an industry catalyst is to help transform all industry sectors and advance opportunities for industry sustainability and profitability," says Cove. "We help industry meet these objectives through ideas, information and investments that respond to consumer demands for food safety, animal welfare and environmental stewardship.

"In fact ALMA partners with all sectors to increase market access, enhance industry engagement, increase demands for Alberta's and Canada's livestock and meat products and enhance the competitiveness and profitability of the industry."

How to register last minute for BPS 2014

Date posted: December 23, 2013

The close of another busy year in agriculture and the start of the holiday season is always a reminder of the importance of people.

"In the pork industry, the Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) starts the New Year on the same note," says BPS program director, Ruurd Zijlstra.

"It continues to be one of the best networking opportunities with key players in the global pork industry," he says. "There is always strong attendance from the home province of Alberta, but in past years this event has brought over 200 people from outside Alberta, across North America and around the world."

There is still time to register for the 2014 Seminar. The best option is to register by the close of day December 30, 2013, and groups who wish to take advantage of the "6th delegate free with every five paid registrations" must register before this date. Most BPS delegates will choose to register by this date, but there are always people who find themselves making last minute decisions about attending.

"Online registration will be available until the close of day Wednesday, January 15, 2014," says conference coordinator Marliss Wolfe Lafreniere. "But the registration fee increases after December 30, and we encourage you to register earlier to ensure there is space in the sessions you want to attend. We also recommend booking your accommodations at the Banff Centre as soon as possible. Walk-in registrations in Banff will be accepted for those who make a last-minute decision to attend."

Check the BPS website at www.banffpork.ca or email Wolfe Lafreniere at .

What controls future pork production?

Date posted: December 23, 2013

Steve Meyer

The pork industry has always been a leader in technology and innovation, but pressures on the industry require producers to continually adapt and evolve. What's on the horizon this coming year? That's exactly the kind of topic the Banff Pork Seminar is set up to handle.

"We always try to look ahead at least a year and give an indication of what the industry leaders see coming," says BPS program director, Ruurd Zijlstra. "The Thursday plenary session at the 2014 Banff Pork Seminar looks at what will control future pork production."

Jose Cardenas, with Elanco USA will challenge producers and give them and their industry food for thought on their role in feeding a hungry world. His presentation is "Technology, the vital ingredient for producing efficient, affordable and abundant food globally."

And well known economist and entertaining speaker, Steve Meyer, of Paragon Economics will give producers fundamental, on-the-ground knowledge when he tackles the "Global economics driving Canadian production."

Quick reminders for BPS 2014

Date posted: November 14, 2013

There are a lot of reasons to consider attending the Banff Pork Seminar. For those who have already made the decision to attend or are contemplating registration, here are some points of interest for the coming show.

Great facilities. Past years saw Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) delegates move across the Banff Centre facilities from one meeting or social session to the next. This year the beautiful and spacious Kinnear Centre anchors Seminar activities.

"We've learned a lot about how best to use these tremendous facilities in the Kinnear Centre," says Ruurd Zijlstra, BPS program director. "This means everything from improved meeting room use to an improved tradeshow. All good news for delegates in 2014."

Delicious food. The Banff Centre is well known for its food services. Lunch each day is included with registration, and don't miss the Welcome Reception at 4:00 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21 where a light dinner will be provided by the Banff Centre chefs.

Wednesday evening is open time. "We heard that people liked the idea of free time to plan their personal schedules, meet friends and business associates," says Zijlstra. "So this year Wednesday evening is free time."

The Boar Pit is back. The lively, freewheeling discussion that closed last year's Banff Pork Seminar is back again this year. "We heard from many people that they liked the Boar Pit session where industry leaders are questioned in an open town-hall format on the subjects of the day. Good fun, good information and refreshments."

Special offers. Make sure to check our special tourism and transportation offers at the "accommodation" button on the BPS website www.banffpork.ca.

Who controls the pork value chain?

Date posted: November 11, 2013

Twenty years ago social pressure wasn't high on the agenda of most pork producers. Today it is a critical part of their thinking and a clear factor in pork industry success.

Two speakers at the Banff Pork Seminar tackle the issue of dealing with the surge in consumer and activist group pressures head on in the opening plenary session of Banff Pork Seminar 2014. The session is "Who controls the value chain?"

Dallas Hockman of the U.S. National Pork Producers Council will tackle "The impact of social pressure in the marketplace." Hockman has broad experience in North America and internationally and currently has the responsibility of enhancing relationships with industry sectors from pork producers all the way to consumers.

Nelson Kloosterman of Worldview Resources International, USA brings an ethics perspective with his presentation "The dignity of raising animals for food." An accomplished author, Kloosterman has taught courses on a graduate level internationally on ethics and theological disciplines. Worldview has a mission to produce resources to apply a religious worldview to responsible living in a global culture.

"This session is supported by several related breakout sessions," says Ruurd Zijlstra, Seminar program director. "We have speakers on "Unlocking the Code," the latest on the national code of practice, and strong speakers on advocating for pork production."

Hear the "Passion for Pork" story

Date posted: November 11, 2013

It's an innovative program called "Passion for Pork," but it might easily be called "Passion for Partnerships."

Alberta Pork's creative marketing initiative launched to stimulate pork consumption has a much more ambitious goal and that is to change the fundamental relationship of people in the value chain.

The philosophy is simple. It's great to increase pork consumption but unless that effort is beneficial for all members of the value chain, it really hasn't created value.

In afternoon breakout session No. 10, Alberta Pork's Executive Director, Darcy Fitzgerald will explain how the program has worked to date and what it means for producer pocketbooks.

New reasons to stay at the Banff Centre

Date posted: November 11, 2013

Credit: Laura Vanags, The Banff Centre
Credit: Laura Vanags, The Banff Centre

A new downtown shuttle service introduced for the 2014 Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) is one strong reason to consider staying right at the Banff Centre, says Ruurd Zijlstra, BPS Program Director.

"Staying at the Centre for the Seminar is so much more convenient because you are right in the heart of the action during the daily activities," he says. "But from past experience we recognized that one of the inconveniences for people wanting to get downtown to enjoy the Banff nightlife is that they have to find transportation.

"This year we have an evening shuttle service from the Banff Centre to the town site for those delegates staying at the Centre. It's a no-worry, responsible transportation solution for delegates to get to and from the heart of the nightlife action. Details will be available at the Seminar."

When booking accommodations at the Banff Centre delegates have a choice of a room plus a daily hot buffet breakfast package or room only. Rooms can be booked online at the Accommodations button www.banffpork.ca. on the BPS website or by calling the Banff Centre directly at 1-800-884-7574. Be sure to mention you are part of Banff Pork Seminar.

Discount available for Calgary Banff airport shuttle

Date posted: November 11, 2013

If you are flying in for the Banff Pork Seminar Jan. 21 to 23, 2014, and are using the Banff Airporter shuttle service from the Calgary airport to Banff, note that Seminar delegates qualify for a 15 percent discount on the service.

All the information needed is on the Banff Pork Seminar website at www.banffpork.ca/yyc.shtml. Use the promotional code "pork" when booking.

It's just one of a number of benefits the BPS 2014 has organized for delegates. Check all the details at the "Accommodation" button on the Banff Pork Seminar website www.bankffpork.ca.

New options in BPS tradeshow

Date posted: November 6, 2013

One of the reasons people come to the Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) is the tradeshow, a chance to talk to industry representatives first hand. One of the real positives of moving to the new Kinnear Centre facilities at the 2013 Seminar was the impressive new tradeshow area.

"Our feedback on the tradeshow from this past year's Seminar was very positive and we are pleased to be able to continue with a similar format this year," says Don Down, BPS chair.

The tradeshow area is centrally located near the meeting rooms for speaker sessions. It's a bright and cheery environment with tremendous views of the spectacular mountains and lots of room for people to move about easily and comfortably.

"We've made the tradeshow area a center of activity for things such as coffee breaks and socializing, right next to the main rooms for speaker presentations," says Down. "That means plenty of opportunity to visit with the wide range of industry representatives."

As something new this year, BPS is offering sponsors the opportunity to use meeting rooms immediately next to the tradeshow area where they can host information sessions and special events. It's convenient for everyone.

Sponsors who have booked accommodations onsite can book these rooms ahead of the 2014 Seminar by contacting BPS Coordinator Marliss Wolfe Lafreniere at the BPS office. An important note for sponsors is that there is no mandatory coffee charge for onsite meeting rooms this year, she says.

"The goal with our tradeshow area is to create a learning environment that meets industry and producer needs," says Down. "Our sponsors have responded with strong support for the 2014 Seminar."


Special tourism offers for Banff Pork Seminar delegates

Date posted: November 6, 2013

Few place names are recognized globally. Banff, Alta. is one of them. It is a winter playground to the world.

Outstanding recreational opportunities, vibrant nightlife and family friendly fun bring people from across Canada and from around the world. Banff is also a favorite corporate meeting destination. In fact, about three million a year visit the park.

At the 2014 Banff Pork Seminar there is even more reason to enjoy those opportunities. The Seminar has worked with Discover Banff Tours to bring a series of special tourism offers for event delegates, says Don Down, Seminar chair. This includes offers for dramatic icewalks with four different options available. Or dogsledding in any one of 10 different locations. There are also special offers on snowshoeing and single day ski lift rates.

All the details are available at the Discover Banff Tours website link www.banffpork.ca/tourism.shtml. There are some special restrictions so delegates should check in early, says Down.

"Sometimes people who have been to Banff before think they have seen everything there is to see, but this area has so many options," says Down. "We encourage anyone who wants to put together the best options to check with local tourism to see what is available."

Companies or organizations interested in options for entertaining employee teams or clients and guests can also get more information at these websites.

For more information on skiing in the area, please visit the website for Ski Banff, www.skibanff.com/ or Ski Louise at www.skilouise.com.

Or for additional general information about Banff and Lake Louise tourism visit www.banfflakelouise.com.

The program and networking power of BPS

Date posted: November 1, 2013

Don Down
Don Down

Each year, Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) delegates and it is usually for three reasons says Don Down, BPS advisory committee chair. One is the program, one is networking and one is the fun.

"I've been associated with a number of industry seminars and programs and one thing that makes Banff Pork Seminar stand out is the power of the program," says Down. "The continuing support of sponsors and strong attendance has given us the luxury of bringing in the best speakers from across North America and Europe."

That means BPS also brings all the decision-makers, says Down. "They come because it's an opportunity to meet with colleagues, old friends and to set up opportunities for business. That makes it a tremendous networking opportunity for everyone. A big part of the Banff Pork Seminar experience is bringing all these people together."

And there is no denying people come for the fun. "Banff has a worldwide reputation as a destination resort and the fun factor always plays a part in people's decision to attend."

"It all adds up to a powerful event."

FX Aherne Award entry deadline extended

Date posted: November 1, 2013

There is still time to get your entries in for the FX Aherne Award for Innovative Pork Production. Entry deadline has been extended until November 12, 2013. Entry form and full details are available on the Banff Pork Seminar website.

Entries welcome by Oct. 31 for FX Aherne Award

Date posted: October 17, 2013

Each year the Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) features the FX Aherne Prize for Innovative Pork Production. It honors long-time pork industry icon and innovator, Dr. Frank Aherne.

The prize is awarded to the best example of an original solution developed to answer pork production challenges or creative use of a known technology. The innovation can apply to any segment of the pork industry including feeding, breeding, ventilation, disease control and prevention, manure management, facility or enterprise management and pork quality and safety.

"Not all these innovations are complex, in fact some of them are very simple solutions," says Dr. Michael Dyck, University of Alberta professor who chairs the Prize and Scholarship Committee for BPS.

The prize award includes two complimentary registrations for Banff Pork Seminar 2014, Jan. 21 to 23 for the innovator and a guest. There is also up to $800 reimbursement in travel expenses, and three nights' accommodation at the Banff Centre based on double occupancy. In addition, the winner gets an opportunity to showcase the innovation at the 2014 Seminar.

Entry deadline for the 2014 Seminar is October 31, 2013. Contest entry details including entry form are available at the Banff Pork Seminar website www.banffpork.ca.

Key dates to remember for BPS 2014

Date posted: October 17, 2013

As you consider your registration for Banff Pork Seminar here are key dates for the 2014 event.

  • October 31, 2013. Deadline to apply for FX Aherne Prize for Innovative Pork Production.
  • Nov. 1, 2013. Deadline to submit research abstracts and to apply for the RO Ball Young Scientist Award.
  • Nov. 15, 2013. Early registration fee discount deadline.
  • Dec. 30, 2013. Deadline for group registrations.
  • Jan. 1, 2014. Deadline for refundable cancellations.
  • Jan. 21 to 23. Banff Pork Seminar 2014 Seminar dates.
  • Jan. 20 to 22, 2015. Banff Pork Seminar 2015.

Banff Pork Seminar appoints new Coordinator

Date posted: October 17, 2013

The Banff Pork Seminar has a fresh face coordinating the 2014 event. Marliss Wolfe Lafreniere has been appointed to the position of Coordinator.

Wolfe Lafreniere is a University of Alberta graduate with a degree in Biological Sciences. She has worked for several years in various positions in several faculties at the University. She has a strong interest in health, food and the environment and the role of science and innovation.

"The Banff Pork Seminar has a reputation of bringing together the very best speakers on the most important issues of the day," says Wolfe Lafreniere. "I appreciate the effort that has gone into building this reputation and look forward to helping continue the tradition in 2014 and beyond."

Banff Pork Seminar 2014 underway

Date posted: October 17, 2013

It started back in 1972 as a technology transfer meeting for the pork industry. Today, the Banff Pork Seminar has grown to be one of Canada's most successful professional agricultural seminars. In the process it has built a reputation for leading edge information on pork industry developments delivered by the best speakers from across North America.

This Inside BPS Special Meeting Report is designed to help get the most from Banff Pork Seminar. It is produced by Meristem editors in partnership with the BPS organizing committee. Here's key information for the 2014 Seminar.

Seminar central. The best place to get everything you need to know about the 2014 Seminar January 21 to 23, 2014 can be found at the Seminar website www.banffpork.ca.

Inside BPS blog. The articles in the blog you are reading now will be an ongoing look at key information and inside perspective prior to, during and immediately following the 2014 Seminar. These articles are designed to be used by media, industry communications specialists, producers and others in industry. Simply provide a credit line to the Inside BPS Special Report and a live link to the Meristem website.

News release and news features. These are primarily designed for media and for industry communications specialists, but they are available for anyone to use and are available for reprint. News releases can be used with no credit. News features should be credited to the Banff Pork Seminar.

Photos. A range of photo of selected speakers will be provided and are available for use. Please credit Banff Pork Seminar.

Media assistance. As always media assistance is available at the contacts provided at the Media Assistance link in this report.

The Banff Pork Seminar organizers welcome your questions. We will see you in Banff in January.