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IPPA president says he's spokesman for pork

By Renae B. Vander Schaaf

Date Modified: 11/21/2012 1:09 PM

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LEMARS, Iowa — Iowa Pork Producers Association president Bill Tentinger has been involved in hog production all his life.

Tentinger and his wife, Joan, farrow 375 sows on their farm near LeMars. Their piglets are moved to a nursery at 20 days old and remain there for another eight weeks. Tentinger then moves the pigs to custom feeders.

His experience with IPPA has broadened his knowledge and appreciation of pork's role. His term as president began in January 2012.

"I see myself as a spokesman for pork," said Tentinger. "That means all producers. It doesn't matter if they are big or small, corporate, niche markets or contract growers."

The gestation crate issue escalated soon after he became IPPA president. He said the pressure to ban gestation crates is coming from European countries. Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, no gestation crates will be allowed in those countries.

Going into the 2012 crop season, record-high corn acreage provided pork producers with incentives to farrow more sows and fill their barns with pigs to finish because feedstuffs would be available.

The rain quit and fears of drought dominated the market. Tentinger attended many drought meetings throughout the state. The only help the U.S. Department of Agriculture offered was opening Conservation Reserve Program acres for haying and grazing, he said.

Until harvest, the uncertainty of actual crop yields was prevalent.

"Now we know what we have," said Tentinger. "This is the first year my fields did not produce enough corn to feed the pigs on my farm. The good thing is enough corn has been produced to get livestock farmers through this year, but what if it is dry again next year?"

That has left many livestock producers questioning corn's use in ethanol production. Tentinger said IPPA hasn't made an official statement on ethanol.

"Prices for pork are not all that bad," said Tentinger. "Most hogs sold today go off the futures, which has been going up. Yet the high cost of production is killing us."