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Ohio Pork Congress to feature a labor Employee Symposium

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Migrant labor. Animal diseases. Nuisance lawsuits. Pork industry projections. These topics and many more will come up at the 2019 Ohio Pork Congress, Feb. 12-13 at the Crowne Plaza North in Columbus.

The event kicks off Feb. 12 with the Employee Symposium, during which labor issues will take center stage. The keynote address will be given by Danielle McCormick, principal at K-Coe Isom, a consulting and CPA firm that assists those in the food and agriculture industry.

She provides the service and product development for K-Coe Isom customers needing organizational services. Her talk will cover labor topics such as employee recruitment and retention and work culture.

Six separate breakout sessions pertaining to labor will be held during the Employee Symposium. Kerry Scott, program manager at Mas Labor – a Virginia-based agency that acts as a middleman between would-be workers in Mexico and farms in the United States – will address migrant labor.

Josh Flint of The Maschhoffs will discuss recruitment strategies. He is associate director of communications at the pig farm in Carlyle, Ill., which raises up to 5 million pigs annually. Flint also writes and edits articles for Prairie Farmer.

Leah Amstutz, from the office of career technical education at the Ohio Department of Education, will talk about industry credentialing programs. New workforce programs and non-traditional worker issues will be discussed, as well as opportunities at universities.

On Feb. 13, Dustin Baker, director of Economics and Domestic Production Issues with the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), will provide economic and trade updates in his opening remarks.

“It’s in interesting time to be involved with the pork industry,” he said. “We saw a record production in 2018, which was 4.6 percent higher than the previous year. Last year we produced 26.7 billion pounds of pork products for consumers here in the U.S. and worldwide. Maintaining and expanding export opportunities is NPPC’s No. 1 priority.

“U.S. pork has been at the tip of the spear in ongoing trade disputes, resulting in retaliatory tariffs from two of our top five largest markets (China and Mexico). NPPC is also striving for meaningful agricultural visa reform. In my conversations with NPPC members, access to a capable and reliable workforce to take care of animals and keep plants running is of paramount concern.”

Dr. Paul Sundberg, executive director of the Swine Health Information Center, will address emerging foreign animal diseases and what farmers should know about them.

“The biggest risk we face is any foreign animal disease entering the country,” he explained. “As an industry, we have decades of response experience and are well-prepared for any number of swine-specific diseases. However, a new or emerging disease can threaten animal health and welfare, as well as public health.

“A newly emerging disease can also disrupt U.S. pork exports and commerce, negatively impacting pork producers and their businesses.”

Dr. Terri Specht of Himerl Farms, Dr. Bethany Heitkamp of Four Star Veterinary Services and Rich Deaton of Birchwood Genetics will address future issues affecting the pork industry.

Anthony Curliss, CEO of the North Carolina Pork Council, will discuss nuisance lawsuits while Andy Ety from the Ohio Department of Agriculture Division of Livestock Environmental Permitting and Duane Stateler of Stateler Family Farms will address water quality regulations.

For more information on this upcoming Congress, call 614-882-5887 or go to