Who controls the value chain in pork production? What controls future pork production? 

There aren't many questions bigger than those today in pork production or agriculture generally, and the upcoming Banff Pork Seminar has set an aggressive program to tackle those issues Jan. 21 to 23, 2014 in Banff, Alberta.

"Over more than 40 years the Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) has built a reputation as a leading seminar in the pork industry globally by tackling issues directly with the best speakers of the day," says Don Down, chair of the BPS advisory committee. "This coming year, we've picked a theme of 'Today's challenges, tomorrow's opportunities' and offer two plenary sessions and 10 breakout sessions that help producers and industry prepare for their future."

On the challenge side, social pressure and animal care are major issues facing the industry and the first plenary tackles both. "The impact of social pressure in the marketplace" is addressed by Dallas Hockman, vice-president of industry relations for the National Pork Producers in the U.S. 

"The dignity of raising animals for food" is speaker Dr. Nelson Kloosterman's topic. He is executive director and ethics consultant for Worldview Resources International, a service organization committed to understanding and applying a religious worldview to responsible living in a global culture.

Thursday's plenary looks at the opportunities side. "We are seeing significant consolidation in the pork industry and we look at that from an opportunities perspective," says Down.  Steve Meyer of Paragon Economics from the U.S. addresses "Global economics driving Canadian production," and Jose Cardenas of Elanco Animal Health speaks on "Technology - The Vital Ingredient for Producing Efficient, Affordable and Abundant Food Globally."

The 10 breakout sessions allow every delegate to custom design their own program, says Dr. Ruurd Zijlstra, BPS program director. "These sessions offer multiple speakers who bring issues down to a very practical level that producers can use in their operations.


"Controlling feed costs is always a major factor and we have a session on that and another on mycotoxins which have reared their head again in the industry. There is a session on making the most of labor, a huge issue for producers today. 

"We look at industry structure and finance, the latest on the new national animal care codes being implemented, and how to advocate for pork and production. There's a session on novel research and application, one on sow productivity, a session on swine health and another on getting pigs to slaughter more efficiently."

The 2014 Seminar closes with a Boar Pit Session and reception, a chance for people to question industry experts in an informal, open and entertaining way. "We had excellent feedback on this event from the past year and we are pleased to continue it again this year," says Zijlstra.

Early registration is encouraged with a significant discount for registering before Nov. 15, 2013. "We've worked to build in various registration options, including new options for group registrations," says Zijlstra. 

"With strong attendance from across Canada and internationally each year this seminar offers an excellent networking opportunity," he adds. 

The best place to get full registration details, program information and latest news on the 2014 Banff Pork Seminar is the Seminar website.