CPPC executive director new to pork, but not to ag
February 17, 2017
Not all agriculture backgrounds are easily transferable.
Someone who grew up growing corn, for example, won't be an expert in raising cattle until he or she spends time in that industry.
But there are transferable issues and understandings throughout the agriculture industry — regardless of which sector you come from.
Joyce Kelly knows that well. September marked her one-year anniversary as the executive director of the Colorado Pork Producers Council.
She and her husband, Steve, farm in east Greeley, Colo., on 900-acres that produces sugar beets, dry beans, wheat, corn and occasionally alfalfa. But no livestock.
She knew she had a learning curve, but some of the issues affecting the pork industry she didn't have to learn, as her own agriculture experiences exposed her to those issues.
By now, the commodity price dip has touched most agriculture sectors, but pork is riding the trend a bit differently than most.
"People are eating more pork than you have ever seen," Kelly said.
She said right now is a good time for pork producers because, like most agriculture products, pork is cheap.
Normally that's a bad thing.
And Kelly knows that. She also knows that low feed prices are helping to offset low pork prices, allowing producers to raise more pigs because it costs less to feed them.
Kelly isn't too worried about a possible tipping point where raising too much pork will hurt the industry in the near future.
"Pork is one of the most economical foods out there," she said.
Kelly thinks that Colorado pork producers will continue to thrive because the largest buyer of Colorado pork is China.
About a third of U.S. pork is exported to China, and that partnership isn't expected to change any time soon. However, now that the Trump Administration has identified trade agreements, and trade in general, as an issue that needs to be addressed, the word tariffs has come up in discussions.
Even though Kelly is relatively new to the pork industry, she has a lifetime experience dealing with other facets of agriculture and knows how much tariffs affect the ag industry.
"Historically, the U.S. agriculture industry pays tariffs," Kelly said.
That's not always the case with other countries shipping exports to the U.S., at least not always at the same level.
But tariffs aside, many in agriculture are hoping that President Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, will bring agricultural concerns to the table during trade discussions.
CONTINUING TO GROW
Kelly started her time with the pork council in September 2015. Her ag vast experience made her a qualified candidate, even though she was new to pork.
That's where a lot of the differences come in.
If you haven't been to a hog farm, you don't know signing in and disclosing some medical information is necessary.
That's not the case when you visit, say, a dairy farm.
Kelly admitted to being new to that procedure, but it's because hogs are susceptable to human diseases.
When Kelly took over the council, the industry was just phasing out of the last disease plaguing pork. But what surprised Kelly was the ease at which the animals catch disease in the first place.
She knows that now, just like she's caught on to the lingo and concerns specific to farmers.
One year in, and she's added yet another notch in her agriculture expertise. ❖ — Fox has been a reporter for the Fence Post since February 2016. She's a University of Northern Colorado alumna who grew up in Weld County, Colo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 392-4410 or on Twitter @FoxonaFarm