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Schmidt is new IPPA president

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

Date Modified: 02/06/2014 12:13 PM

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DES MOINES — Seven years ago, Jamie Schmidt agreed to fill in for one year on the Iowa Pork Producers Association's board of directors from District 2.

Fast forward to last week when Schmidt became IPPA president.

"I'm still trying to finish up that one year," he said with a grin. "I've enjoyed the people that I work with. I saw the opportunity to get move involved and take on more responsibility. It just kind of evolved."

Schmidt is part of a multi-generation operation at Garner that is comprised of his parents, Luverne and Mary Ann; his brother, Lonnie, and his nephews Mark and Adam.

Schmidt Family Farms consists of a 900-sow farrow-to-finish operation, a cattle-feeding enterprise and 3,600 acres of crops. They grow corn, soybeans and hay.

"We're independent producers, and we're diversified," Schmidt said. "That's somewhat unique."

Schmidt sees the coming year as a continuation of some issues that IPPA has worked on for several years.

"We have to get consumers to believe that what we're doing is for a good reason, and we do take good care of our animals," Schmidt said.

Work will continue on fighting porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, which was first confirmed in the United States in May, and has been devastating to swine herds in the Midwest.

"We need to find ways to prevent it for producers who don't have it on their farms, and for those that do get it, how do they get back out of it," Schmidt said.

Schmidt knocks on the table and says so far his operation doesn't have it.

"Everyone you talk to who has it says it's tough," Schmidt said.

The Schmidts are vigilant in preventing PEDV.

"For example, we don't go into a convenience store and then walk onto the farm," he said. "We always disinfect shoes, and we're really careful of any traffic. Luckily, we have our own feed mill and our own manure equipment so we can control traffic. That has helped us hopefully cut down on exposure."

The National Pork Board is doing a good job of working with packers to find ways to adapt Pork Quality Assurance Plus as a standardized animal handling and welfare assurance program, Schmidt said. The National Pork Board also is communicating with food chain partners.

"Two years ago, that communication with retailers wasn't taking place," Schmidt said. "I really have to compliment the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council for talking to retailers and letting them know what the realizations are of putting these timelines out there when they haven't even talked to producers. That communication should help us."

Schmidt said Iowa legislative leaders have indicated that they want a short session where they address the budget and not much else.

"If something comes up, we'll have to address it, but we don't have any big changes we want to make this year," Schmidt said.

Schmidt said the outlook for pork producers is good in the coming year.

"We're coming into a period where hog producers will hopefully make some pretty good profits," Schmidt said. "We have lower grain prices and pretty decent hog prices and as long as we can keep stuff healthy, it should be a pretty profitable year."

Schmidt pointed out that Garner is also home to Iowa Cattlemen's Association president Ed Greiman.

"I think having two major commodity organization presidents from the same town at the same time is pretty unique," Schmidt said.