Northeast Nebraska Swine Summit Gets the “Operation Expansion” Message to Area Producers

Producers looking to add swine to their operations met in Norfolk, Neb. July 17 for the Northeast Nebraska Swine Summit. They heard from current pork producers, industry experts, builders and lenders about opportunities for expanding their operations. Northeast Community College’s Lifelong Learning Center hosted the one-day event.

The first speaker of the day was Dr. Elliot Dennis, assistant professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, who provided a positive outlook on economic growth within the pork Industry. Current and prospective producers were reassured that the pork industry will provide stable prices and income at a time where grain prices are unsteady.

Next up, a panel of current contract growers gave insight on what life raising hogs is like. The panel was consisted of three families: a father-son partnership and two husband-wife pairs. All three operations decided on the journey of contract pork production to provide their families with steady incomes. It was unanimous among the panelists that adding pork production was one of the best things that they could have done for the future of their operations. Al Juhnke, executive director of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association, said that “it was refreshing to hear that this is working for our producers and the swine enterprise is doing what we want them to do, which is providing a stable income in a time of volatile markets.”

Roasted pork loin was served during lunch presentations as attendees were able to hear from several swine companies about their particular business models. Presentations from Pillen Family Farms, Cactus Family Farms, Omega 3 Family Farms and other allied companies such as Central Plains Milling, gave some insight into how a farmer can partner with each of these companies. Additionally, The Maschhoffs discussed partnership opportunities in the tradeshow area.

Dr. Rick Stowell joined the group after lunch to talk about the value of manure from livestock production. The manure produced during livestock production can be extremely beneficial to producers who have row crops, cutting back on the use of commercial nitrates and providing overall improved soil [ to increase yields. Dr. Stowell is an associate professor and animal environmental engineer at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Bill Winkelman, vice president of industry relations for the National Pork Board, wrapped up the day with a discussion about the “We Care” campaign that promotes responsible practices in all areas of production. It is important that producers talk about how they are taking care of the environment and livestock to make sure the pork industry is sustainable, he said.

Along with all the great speakers, many resource providers attended, as well. There were people to answer questions for prospective producers on the topics of lending, building, zoning, and contract growing.

The Alliance for the Future of Agriculture (AFAN), the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, and the Nebraska Pork Producers Association agreed that the conference went so well that they plan to make it an annual event. Next year’s Swine Summit will be held in late July and will broaden the topic range to

include breakout sessions on direct-to-consumer marketing, options for independent growers, nutrient management, contract production and a host of other relevant topics. Site of next year’s event is yet to be determined.

“Our goal was to have all the people in the room to be able to answer any question a participant had so they could make an informed decision about swine production,” said Steve Martin, executive director of AFAN. “I think we accomplished that goal and look forward to bringing even more resources to next year’s Summit.”

If you missed the Northeast Nebraska Swine Summit, you can view the presentation on the AFAN website,