Scottish pig issues addressed in seminar

Quality Meat Scotland’s (QMS) Scottish Pig Industry conference last week focused on issues facing the industry, as well as opportunities ahead.

Professor John Deen from the University of Minnesota, USA, was the keynote speaker at the conference. Following an upbringing on a southern Ontario pig farm, he is now a doctor of veterinary medicine and an expert in epidemiology and economics.

Over the course of his 16 years at the University of Minnesota, he has worked in swine production, welfare and international disease control.

“Some of the issues for pig farmers are the same now as they were 20 years ago – disease, marketing and price threats,” he said.

Despite the challenges, he also highlighted the opportunities for Scottish pig farmers. He recognised that farmers based on an island economy are able to benefit from factors such as limited competition and shared resources and knowledge of the industry.

He said that pig producers had to consider the whole supply chain to enhance their businesses. “Pig quality is all about the challenges of getting a pig to the slaughter point effectively and consistently. In the past that was all farmers had to worry about. Now they not only have to be concerned with disease and welfare, but also about the quality of pork to give consumers a good eating experience.

“Pig farmers have to have the answer to all the consumer questions on production, disease, welfare and eating.”

Other points of discussion during Deen’s presentation were the quality in both pig marketing and manufacturing, covering disease cost and quality control. He said that the main areas of focus were consistent regardless of geographical location.

Although this is the first time Deen has visited Scotland in person to speak, he has been involved in internet talks to producers in the past.

He said that Scotland had an advantage to the US in terms of size. Due to it being a much smaller sector, pig producers can adapt more quickly to changes in technology, production techniques and markets.

“Scottish producers have a good technical support structure through QMS, which should enable them to address their challenges,” he concluded.

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