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Banff Pork Seminar 2012

Inside BPS Blog

News from the Meristem editors from inside the 2012 Banff Pork Seminar.

BPS in the rearview mirror

Date posted: January 24, 2012
Ruurd Zijlstra

Record sponsorship. New facilities. Attendance of 660. Three days of knowledge-packed presentations and discussion.

Each of these elements added up to a strong Banff Pork Seminar for 2012, says program co-director Ruurd Zijlstra of the University of Alberta. "Most important is the knowledge, messages and ideas all of us here will take away. These will help us to continue to move our industry forward and pursue the adjustments and innovations we need to to have a successful future."

Ruurd's notebook

Zijlstra used his wrap-up comments to thank sponsors, organizers and participants all for their tremendous support, and also to provide his thoughts on some of the key take home messages from the conference. A few examples include:

Bright future for animal agriculture. "It's clear animal products and their importance continue to increase. It was interesting to see how income is related to the purchase of animal products. When people have the means, these are the products they want."

Opportunity for giving back. A presentation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation highlighted the unique power of livestock farming interventions to help battle hunger and poverty. "One of the things that wasn't highlighted by the Gates Foundation was why pork farming wasn't highlighted. In my mind, that had to do with some of the regions they were working tend not to farm or eat much pork. But we can find areas where we can make an impact, such as the Asia rim, where pork is more in demand."

Sustainability challenge can be met. Jeff Simmons from Elanco outlined the challenge of helping to feed a world population that will hit 9 billion in 2050 - a challenge that will require 100 percent greater livestock production. "What stood out for me that gives me confidence is just how far we've already come in sustainability over the last 50 years, through improved genetics, use of feedstuffs, etc.," says Zijlstra. "As an aside here, I really believe some of that information we need to focus on and use to help market the intensive livestock industry."

Improving the economic playing field. Zijlstra also noted that improving economics are an encouraging sign for the industry. "Pig prices seem to be not too bad in the next year out. And for me a key message of the entire conference was feed costs - we need to keep them in check to be on the higher playing field that we were used to 10 years ago."

The future: Think out of the box. A big focus for the industry is improving overall production efficiency. "New technologies are a key part of it. But also how can we think outside the box and look at different ways of doing things. Feeding feeds early in the nursery for example might not have to be as nutrient dense. And we don't necessarily have to feed the traditional cereal grain, protein meal diet to get the best results. We are already making good progress moving toward more robust pigs and we need to continue doing that using all the tools we have."

Teamwork critical for successful pork research model

Date posted: January 24, 2012
Dr. George Foxcroft

Research is a driver of any successful pork industry. But building a research base to fuel the industry is easier said than done, particularly today when the long-term public commitments to research are harder to come by and scientists find themselves more preoccupied than ever with the gamesmanship around securing grants and keeping funders happy.

At BPS 2012, Dr. George Foxcroft, Swine Research & Technology Centre, University of Alberta, offered some perspective on today's challenges from the perspective of his own experience, as he prepares to shift into retirement following more than three decades at the university.

The Swine Research and Technology Centre is a good example of a well-structured, productive institution, he says. Looking at a broader level Canada needs a strong national effort to bring the scale needed to help the industry be a research leader globally. "I would argue the national opportunity has to surpass what we have now. The opportunity has to be big. It should deal with much bigger issues, it should deal with much bigger funding and it should deal with longer time periods."

Looking around the world, Foxcroft says the Australian Pork CRC model is a clear stand-out that Canada and others should be carefully considering. "Their funding strategies provide some interesting incentives for all members of the pork value-chain to engage as partners in collaborative R&D programs,'' he says. "One thing I really like about the CRC program is that very reachable goals are created."

Teamwork is clearly the key ingredient for success, he says. "I think you need committed investors and shared ownership. And I think a paradigm for bringing commercial farmers into the research infrastructure, into the funding envelope, is going to be critical as well."

Maximizing the technology toolbox

Date posted: January 24, 2012
Dr. Frank Dunshea

What is the future of high tech pork production?

Part of the answer is already here, says Dr. Frank Dunshea of the University of Melbourne, speaking at BPS 2012. "We actually have some excellent options already that aren't widely adopted. We need to advocate for their use while we continue to identify and develop other technology options."

The opportunity for getting the most out of today's technology toolbox includes consideration of options such as porcine somatotrophin (pST), beta agonists such as products Ractopamine and Paylean, dietary additives, nutrigenomics and techniques such as immunization against GnRF, says Dunshea.

Used in Austria and some other countries but not approved in North America, pSt as a product is a man-made growth hormone based on natural pST produced by the animal that is given as a daily or less frequent injectable. "Its use is driven by feed costs. It's also driven by the fact we get paid a premium for the reduction in backfat that is one of the results. In many cases the reduction in backfat is where the benefit is."

The other options offer a range of potential and also some hurdles, he says. "Some of the dietary additives offer a means of manipulating growth. But their responses are inconsistent and we need to determine what are the ideal conditions for using these technologies. Immunization against GnRF offers a means of improving feed efficiency through making use of entire males without the risk of boar taint. And there are exciting opportunities in nutrigenomics where we can actually use a combination of dietary manipulation with the animals own genome to improve performance across the board."

Do we need a national ALMA?

Date posted: January 22, 2012
Jurgen Preugschas

Alberta pork producer, Jurgen Preugschas, past chair of the Canadian Pork Council and board member for the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA) raised an interesting challenge for the industry at the recent Banff Pork Seminar.

During questions following a presentation on the future of hog research funding, which covered in part discussions on a national research funding initiative, he mused whether the pork industry could use the ALMA model nationally. Preugschas says the Alberta government took some real risks when it brought together industry and government players as ALMA in a new funding agency, but he clearly believes it is paying rewards.

Boar Pit highlights: Part two

Date posted: January 22, 2012
Ron Gietz

The back half of the Boar Pit session kept momentum rolling with more frank and lively discussion.

Topic #3: Practical reduction of antibiotic use. Though there is no clear evidence tying antibiotic use in agriculture to antimicrobial-resistant strains threatening human health, the rise of antimicrobial resistance in general has created continued pressure in livestock industries to limit use.

Denmark is recognized as a leader in practical reduction yet has found it adds cost to production and the concern in North America and elsewhere is that benefits will not be seen by industry to offset those added costs. Getting better data to examine the issue is one simple way to move forward, suggested veterinarian Doug MacDougald. "To me this keeps coming back to something we've looked at addressing and tried to address in our industry. Certainly compared to some of the other areas, we don't have good grow-finish data that we can share and benchmark in industry to make cost effective decisions, including the application or not of antimicrobials. Filling that gap is one place to start."

Topic #4: Financing your hedge and other business management. This topic built of Thursday's BPS plenary session that outlined a cautiously optimistic economic outlook for the U.S. and Canadian pork industry in 2012. Ron Gietz of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development surmised and added to that analysis, to kick off discussion of the tools and options available to producers to get the most value out of the year ahead.

"For 2012 were looking at a similar hog prices to 2011," says Gietz. "And on grains, the numbers show we could have a much better story for producers compared to 2011, particularly due to the end of ethanol subsidies in the U.S. as of January 1 of this year."

When it comes to options through hedge lines and other financing tools, a hurdle for many producers is getting support from lenders who in recent years have remained very risk-averse on the pork sector. "This is particularly a concern for producers who have been financially challenged," says Gietz. "But on the positive side there are tools out there now such as forward contracting with our packers in Canada, to lock in hog prices without having to go through a broker type of arrangement."

Jim Haggins also touched on help coming through producer organizations. "There are initiatives being taken by several pork boards across the country to put a higher emphasis on cost of production analysis with those who traditionally don't do that internally on their own. This type of effort is a very good thing and one of the keys toward good business risk management. It will be good to see that developed across the country to a greater extent."

'Boar Pit' takes on tough issues: Part one

Date posted: January 22, 2012

Frank talk, ideas and bottom lines. That was the flavor of a new Banff Pork Seminar "Boar Pit" session that featured no-holds-barred discussion of hot topics facing the industry.

BPS Chairman Jim Haggins played moderator and referee in a format that included introductory and closing comments from experts on four pre-selected topics, with plenty of rapid-fire, back-and-forth comments from the floor in between.

Here's a brief sampling of the focus of discussion in each topic area:

Doug MacDougald

Topic #1: Swine dysentery. For some, the topic has a 'back to the future' feel, acknowledged Dr. Doug MacDougald, a veterinarian with Southwest Ontario Veterinary Services and Chair of the Ontario Swine Health Advisory Board. "Those of us that have grey hair remember back in the 70s when this was a dominant disease. There were no clinical cases in 20 years, until last year when veterinarians saw classic cases of swine dysentery in both Canada and the U.S." The same causative organism is clearly there, he says, and there are concerns of a novel strain strongly implicated in Western Canada. The disease is tough to diagnose, since it's not noticeable until animals are 12 weeks old, and there's no good way currently to monitor for it.

"We're very concerned that without very good biosecurity this is going to spread among the industry," says MacDougald. "Every one of us can take a leadership role in calling for an industry investigative team for this emerging disease. Today the timing is absolutely great with information, with resources, and with the natural biosecurity training and assessments occurring now. We need to take charge to minimize the threat to our industry."

Denise Beaulieu

Topic #2: Future of research. A key question on this topic is 'who should be funding our research?' Dr. Denise Beaulieu of the Prairie Swine Centre challenged industry to think carefully about its role and the implications for other players. "As researchers, one trend we see is that even if we get government funding we are asked more and more to look for what we call industry matching or industry contribution. I think if the industry is going to use that research that is quite justified. However, if I was a company I may not want that research to be public. I might want to say, 'if I'm contributing to your research, then I'm also buying your data. Why should I give you all this money if everybody else in the industry is going to have access to this data?'"

What's the right balance of control of the public research agenda? "I think that's a very important topic for discussion," says Beaulieu.

Attendance strong, feedback wanted

Date posted: January 19, 2012

A lot of numbers were featured in the presentations and hallway chats at the 2012 Banff Pork Seminar. But one number stands out for conference manager Ruth Ball is 660. That's how many people attended this year's event.

Add to that with the fact that corporate sponsorship support has been very strong and the crew that manage this event were feeling good. One last important factor is feedback.

Each year, Banff Pork Seminar puts a lot of effort into getting those attending to fill out feedback forms, says Ball. Those who fill them out get a chance at a draw for free registration for the following year.

This year the feedback form will be doubly important. The 2012 event featured many new things. Chief among them was an all new location at the Banff Centre, which like most changes presented both opportunities and challenges. There were also a number of new features tried out.

"Feedback on how the attendees felt about all of that will drive future shows," says Ball. "The committee prints the results of those feedback forms off and uses them in our planning. It helps the seminar stay on top of its game."

Aherne Award Winners

Date posted: January 19, 2012

Winners of the F.X. Aherne award for innovatie pork production at the 2012 include include, left to right, Dale Heptonstall of Sunterra Farms in Acme, Alta.;Garrett Gerbrandt of the Puratone Corporation in Niverville, Man.; Michael Dyck, Chair of the Aherne award committee; and Mary Haugh and Peter Jones of LMR Inc. in Listowel, Ont.

See news release for more information.

R.O. Ball Young Scientist award winners

Date posted: January 19, 2012

R. O. Ball award winners, Miranda Smit, University of Alberta; Leila Dominquez, University of Saskatchewan; Laura Eastwood, University of Saskatchewan; and Michael Dyck, Associate Professor of the University of Alberta.

Three winners of the R. O. Ball Graduate Student Competition at the Banff Pork Seminar were announced.

The award is designed to recognize outstanding young scientists. It is awarded to graduate students who provide a best overall combination of good and relevant science, well-written abstract and excellent presentation.

First prize went to Miranda Smit of the University of Alberta, for her research paper topic on "Effect of 3n-PUFA supplementation to sows on fatty acid profiles in serum and embryos."

Second prize was awarded to Leila Dominquez of the University of Saskatchewan, for her topic on "Evaluation of heating systems in the swine grow-finish rooms."

Third prize was earned by Laura Eastwood of the University of Saskatchewan, for her paper on "Dietary omega-6 to 3 fatty acid ratios affect body fat mobilization in high producing sows."

George Foxcroft Honorary Lectureship announced

Date posted: January 19, 2012

George Foxcroft

The Banff Pork Seminar and the University of Alberta are honoring one of their own. They have announced the George Foxcroft Honorary Lectureship in Swine Production research.

Foxcroft has been a long-time player with both organizations. A well known swine researcher at the University, he started as program director at Banff Pork Seminar in 1989 and continued until 1998.

In that time he made several major changes to the seminar that have helped anchor its success today. He started printing the "Advances in Pork Production" proceedings that added a new level of value to those attending and have become a valuable resource to the industry. He moved the management of the Seminar into the University of Alberta animal science department. And he started the BPS advisory committee which brought industry people into what had been a largely science and government dominated group. That addition opened the door to new opportunities and new sponsorship support.

The new lectureship will allow the Banff Pork Seminar to host high profile research speakers with a goal of increasing production efficiency.

Hats off to the 365 club

Date posted: January 19, 2012

Jim Haggins

The Banff Pork Seminar kicked off with a heavyweight, big-picture plenary session that offered a global perspective on the challenge of Feeding Tomorrow's World.

But BPS Chairman, Jim Haggins, used his opening remarks to keep the session grounded on the nuts and bolts issues facing producers.

"I've nothing but admiration for everyone here today and many more across Canada who are dedicated to supporting the continued growth and development of our industry," says Haggins. Front and centre in that group are producers who put their shoulder to the wheel every day, 365 days a year to get through obstacles and keep the industry chugging along.

"I'm sure we can help feed the world more than we do today, but before that happens we need to also focus on addressing a few immediate challenges here at home, within our pork production and processing industry," he says.

"While it has been a relief to finally see some positive margins in pork production over the last several months, we still have some major challenges to overcome, to allow our industry to stabilize and actually grow again."

Five key hurdles

Five key hurdles include:

Infrastructure. "A severe lack of profits over the last four years has prevented our infrastructure from being maintained properly," says Haggins. Building of new facilities or major remodeling of existing units will not likely happen until debt levels are reduced.

Lending. At the same time, major lending institutions have been unwilling to work with the majority of producers. "This is due to abnormal risk scenarios. Land equity seems to be the main attraction to lenders."

Succession. The risk conditions also make succession a major challenge "Next generation producers and investors are either not willing or unable to accept the risks involved to get into the industry today. Who will be taking the reins of our production, and sitting in this crowd 10 years from now?" says Haggins.

Maximizing capacity. The challenges of the current environment have contributed to and are compounded by processing plants from east to west operating at less than optimum efficiency.

Revenue parity. And finally, the Canadian pork industry continues to have a problem with a lack of revenue parity with its Midwest U.S. counterparts. "Until production and processing industry partners create a solution that allows a sharing of profits at all currency levels, it will be difficult to return to full processing plants, improved efficiency and the days of new growth," says Haggins.

Lots of hurdles, to be sure, but Haggins has faith that the producers and other industry players on the frontline have the fortitude to tackle them all. "I take my hat off to these people, and as I leave the BPS advisory committee after the 2012 Seminar, I appreciate the opportunity I've had to serve with them in this industry in several different capacities. It has been an honor."

Pfizer: Team opportunity key to BPS

Date posted: January 16, 2012

Dr. Walter Heuser views the Banff Pork Seminar from two perspectives. For many years, as a practicing veterinarian, he has enjoyed attending what he calls a premier event of its kind in North America. Since 2008 he now views it from the perspective of swine business unit director for Pfizer Animal Health Canada, a long-standing sponsor of the Seminar.

"I have always looked forward to the Banff Pork Seminar," says Heuser. "It's always an excellent program with very good presentations both at the scientific technical level and the broader industry level. I've always regarded the Seminar as a great continuing education opportunity.

"Now wearing my Pfizer hat, I also appreciate more than ever the ability of the Seminar to provide a very broad focus that makes it very attractive for the entire industry," he says. "It's not just focused on the veterinary community, or nutrition, or production, or any individual segment, but really all of these elements together. That makes it very unique and allows it to attract people from gate to plate."

Pfizer has been a BPS sponsor for many years and in 2012 returns as a Premier Plus sponsor. "We see a lot of value in the seminar for the industry and for our business," says Heuser. "We recognize that corporate sponsorship is needed to keep registration costs and other costs at a level that's attractive. So certainly we're interested in being there as a corporate sponsor. But it's also an opportunity really for the majority of our Pfizer swine team to attend. It's a tremendous learning opportunity for the team and also a tremendous opportunity to make connections with customers and participate in this very good venue."

Canadian Bio-Systems sees new innovation opportunities

Date posted: January 14, 2012

As the Banff Pork Seminar looks forward to its 41st year in 2012 a huge reason for that longevity is unquestionably the consistent, long-term support of core sponsors.

One of the longest serving of these sponsors is Canadian Bio-Systems Inc. (CBS-Inc.), the Calgary-based company that has gained a strong foothold globally as a leading innovator and manufacturer in the area of natural ingredients for use in livestock nutrition.

The past year has been one full of milestones and growth for the company. Two recent examples include USDA organic approval for its Omegazyne (a.k.a. Superzyme in Canada) product for swine and poultry feeds and the company's recent expansion of its manufacturing base with the acquisition of a major Oshawa-based feed ingredient manufacturer.

There's no better place to talk about these developments, and others the company is looking forward to in 2012, than the Banff Pork Seminar, says Rob Patterson, Technical Services Manager for CBS Inc. CBS returns this year as a Sustaining Sponsor of BPS (the highest sponsorship category) and will bring a strong delegation for meetings and activities in and around the Seminar.

"BPS has always been an excellent forum to showcase and discuss innovation," says Patterson. "It's why we're a proud partner and why we're looking forward to a great Seminar in 2012 in the new facilities."

Look for the CBS Inc. booth during the Seminar on the 3rd floor of the new Kinnear Centre. The new BPS sponsor display area will feature information and offerings from over 20 pork industry companies.

Still time and options to register for Banff Pork Seminar 2012

Date posted: January 5, 2012

It's one of the best pork industry networking and education opportunities of the year and there's still time to register for the 2012 Banff Pork Seminar.

"Banff Pork Seminar always brings together people from so many different backgrounds across North America, including all agricultural regions of Canada," says BPS Program Director, Dr. Ron Ball. "Sharing experiences with those people is one of the major benefits of attending.

"This year is no exception. We'll have about 200 delegates from outside Western Canada, including internationally. All will have plenty to discuss when they hear the top speakers we have lined up."

There are several late registration options, says Conference Coordinator, Ruth Ball. Online registration can be handled until closing Friday, January 13. Walk-ins are accepted during the Seminar. And there is a one day rate of $180 plus GST for anyone who can only attend one day of the Seminar.

Registration information is available at the Banff Pork Seminar website

An important message from Banff Pork Seminar: "Media welcome"

Date posted: January 3, 2012

When you've spent 40 years building a reputation for tapping the leading edge of an industry, it's not surprising there are newsworthy aspects that will appeal to media. Banff Pork Seminar makes a special effort each year to ensure that media know they are welcome to attend or to access material from the Seminar in whatever way they wish.

"It really is three things," says Dr. Ron Ball, BPS Program Director.

First, BPS provides information media and organizations can use. News releases, blog items and editorial reports from the Seminar sessions as well as photos from the 2012 Seminar are posted in a BPS Special Report available online through a link at This includes items posted prior to, during and following the 2012 Seminar. All material is available to anyone who wishes to use it based on reprint standards outlined in the online report.

Second, media are invited to attend. A "Media assistance" button on this Special Report explains that media can sign up to receive news releases and others notification from this year's Seminar. It explains who to call to get assistance. As well, many media are contacted directly or through a broadly distributed media advisory.

"We are fortunate again this year to have Geoff Geddes, Communications Specialist with Alberta Pork available during the Seminar to take media calls for assistance. Media can attend all or selected sessions, or can contact specific speakers directly."

Third, they are encouraged to customize information to best fit their needs. "Each year, we connect with media from various sources, from farm and organization media, to new media such as websites and blogs. There is interest from mainstream media who understand that agriculture and food is one of the most dynamic developing areas for the general public.

"There is always interest, not only locally and nationally in Canada, as one might expect, but also across North America and internationally. It is a very global industry today," says Ball.

If anyone knows of media or trade organization that produce publications who have questions about BPS media access, have them review the Media Assistance button at this Special Report or contact BPS directly.

New sponsor display area, fresh format

Date posted: December 28, 2011

The third floor of the new Kinnear Centre at the Banff Centre boasts spectacular mountain views and all the comforts of a state-of-the-art facility.

Come the 2012 Banff Pork Seminar, Jan. 17 to 20, it will also provide a unique window on some of the most innovative technologies, products and solutions in the pork industry today.

That's because the entire third floor will be devoted to housing the new BPS sponsor display area, featuring information and offerings from over 20 leading pork industry companies.

"We're very pleased with the new space," says Ruth Ball, Conference Manager. "It is a much improved location to showcase our sponsors and to encourage interaction between the sponsors and our attendees. This year, we're also making the coffee break continuous to encourage more consistent traffic in the sponsor area. Attendees can visit at anytime throughout the day to enjoy some refreshment and learn about the many products and services our sponsors have to talk about."

The sponsor display area will be open daily for the duration of BPS, from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

New Kinnear Centre facilities promise benefits to BPS attendees

Date posted: December 20, 2011
The Kinnear Centre for Creativity & Innovation at the Banff Centre. Photo: Donald Lee, The Banff Centre.
The Kinnear Centre for Creativity & Innovation at the Banff Centre. Photo: Donald Lee, The Banff Centre.

This year promises one of the biggest changes for BPS in several years – a move to all new conference facilities within the Banff Centre.

BPS 2012 will move into the new Kinnear Centre, which opened in July 2010. The Kinnear Centre features well designed meeting rooms, equipped with state-of-the-art audiovisual systems and generous seating with excellent sight lines from which to view speaker presentations. The hallways also feature comfortable informal meeting areas with plenty of natural light and mountain views.

The Banff Centre

But perhaps most important from the point of view of many attendees will be how much easier it will be to move between different sessions with the new facilities. "An advantage of BPS has always been that the many concurrent sessions that allow attendees to customize their own program," says Ron Ball, BPS Program Director. "Part of the challenge is having several hundred people who attend move quickly and efficiently between sessions. Moving into the Kinnear Centre will make it much easier to do that."

All sessions will be held in the Kinnear Centre or Max Bell Building – only steps apart and with no hill in between, he points out. With the BPS sponsor display area also now moved into the Kinnear Centre, there will be better space for interactions between sponsors and delegates.

The Banff Centre

"The setting in Banff is inspiring and that feeling is also captured in the Kinnear Centre design," says Ball. "It has both the practical and creative elements you want in a top venue for this type of meeting. We're confident the move will contribute to a well-run Banff Pork Seminar and an enjoyable experience for everyone involved."

New Boar Pit Session tackles hot topics

Date posted: December 20, 2011

With new energy and new optimism in the Canadian pork industry, there is growing momentum to tackle some of the new hot topics and issues facing the industry and help get it on course for a strong future.

A new "Boar Pit Session" at BPS 2012 will help feed that spirit with a no-holds-barred open discussion format that is geared to feature some lively, at times aggressive debate on the hot topics of the day.

The new session will kick-off on Friday at 7:30 a.m. in the Kinnear Centre, and everyone interested is encouraged to come on down and participate. The format will allow audience members to suggest topics and contribute to the discussion, which will be moderated by current BPS Chair Jim Haggins.

"BPS is known for showcasing the hot topics of the day and not shying away from tough issues," says Haggins. "The Boar Pit Session brings a new, interactive way to do that in a very open format that should really spark some good discussion and debate. It's a new element I think many attendees are looking forward to."

New Industry Partners Session captures latest from core sponsors

Date posted: December 11, 2011

The Banff Pork Seminar has enjoyed an enviable track record since it started way back in 1972. Unquestionably a big part of what has built the event into the leading industry event of its kind today has been the strong support of industry sponsors.

This year a new Industry Partners Session at BPS has been designed to further showcase these core sponsors and provide an additional learning opportunity for BPS delegates.

The session, scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 19 at 4:00 p.m. features a format where several BPS sponsors will each have 15 minutes to deliver a presentation on new products and innovations.

"It's a 'speakers corner' type approach where the sponsors will have a chance to have their say and tell us about the new innovations they are championing," says Dr. Ron Ball, BPS Program Director. "The Seminar is about showcasing innovation and progress in our industry and this new session is an excellent way to do that, while also further highlighting the critically important role our sponsors have in sustaining this event and making it a success. We are extremely grateful for their support."

Sponsors who will be showcasing their innovations this year are Canadian BioSystems Inc., Elanco Animal Health, Pfizer Animal Health, Western Financial Group, AFSC and Minitube Canada.

Western barbeque a BPS highlight

Date posted: December 11, 2011

The slogan says "Live the Lore of the West" and that sums up a big part of the experience at the MountView Barbeque event at the Banff Pork Seminar that many delegates have enjoyed in recent years.

This year's barbeque for BPS delegates is slated for the evening of Wednesday, Jan. 18, following the first full day of sessions, sponsored by PIC. It's an opportunity not to be missed. Great venue. Great food. Great hospitality. And perhaps most important, an excellent place to visit.

MountView Barbeque is located about 10 minutes from downtown Banff in a wilderness setting. The venue itself is comprised of several large 'donut' tents each warmed by a roaring central bonfire. Entertainment includes options such as a gunfighters' stunt show or a native dance performance, along with a band that performs throughout the evening.

Bring your appetite, thoughts for good conversation and look forward to an event that is fast becoming a BPS tradition. Tickets for the barbeque not a part of the BPS registration fee. They may be purchased by contacting the registration desk at . Tickets are limited to the first 300 people so get yours soon.

Building toward stability and growth

Date posted: November 1, 2011
Jim Haggins
Jim Haggins

Pork producers and their industry are a resilient bunch. Those who have found ways to weather a storm of challenges in recent years have provided the industry not only with excellent examples of pressure-tested leadership but also with a strong foundation to move forward with into a new future.

The Banff Pork Seminar is preparing for another year of strong attendance and sponsorship support at the 2012 event slated for Jan. 17-20. This is just one of many examples that speak to the consistency and longevity of that core part of the industry that continually keeps at the leading edge of knowledge, adjusts to challenges and finds new pathways to success, says Jim Haggins, BPS Chairman.

"We have come through three years of significant losses and shrinking of the industry, but there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel and that is based largely on the sound, strong baseline production group that is continuing to move forward and open new opportunities." says Haggins. "This core group anchors the seminar and it anchors the industry."

Industry analysts from a global perspective have pinpointed six countries being the main ones that will be relied upon for supplying pork products to the rest of the world and Canada is one of them, he says. "If we continue to make progress in getting our industry stabilized and back on a positive note, even at a par dollar we can look forward to some good growth in the years ahead."

The role of BPS in showcasing knowledge and science to support the industry has never been more important, he says. "BPS continues to be respected as one of the premier events in North America for the hog industry. For 2012, we're getting very good sponsorship support from our industry partners, attendance is shaping up to be very strong and just like every year we are looking forward to some excellent caliber speakers and discussion. It's a great event early in the year to really get people thinking and energized for the year ahead."

As always, the venue in the heart of the Rockies doesn't hurt, he says. "It's an outstanding setting that offers a great opportunity for everyone involved in the industry to exchange ideas and have some fun together in a very comfortable and inspiring atmosphere. The 2012 event promises to be an excellent Seminar all around and we are looking forward to seeing everyone there."

Young scientists take spotlight with R.O. Ball Award

Date posted: October 25, 2011
Dr. Ron Ball
Dr. Ron Ball

The lifeblood of the pork industry is the new generation of young people who are coming on board to support and lead it into the future.

Helping to recognize these emerging bright lights in the scientific arena is focus of the R.O. Ball Graduate Student Award. This annual BPS award was renamed in 2011 to honor Dr. Ron Ball, the recently retired University of Alberta professor who has served as program director of BPS for 14 years.

As the deadline nears for submissions for the 2012 award, an excellent crop of candidates is taking shape, reports Ball. "Training graduate students is the highlight of my scientific career and I'm honored to be involved with this award."

From the submissions received before the November 4, 2011, a scientific committee will select a limited number of final round abstracts representing "the most interesting and best science," says Ball. These graduate students will be invited to give an oral presentation of their work on the morning of Wednesday, January 18 at the main BPS plenary session, after which a final winner will be announced. . More information on the award is available on the BPS website.

Aherne awards honors appetite for innovation

Date posted: October 25, 2011

The Banff Pork Seminar has prided itself as is a showcase of industry knowledge and innovation. Some of the best examples of how industry is taking the best of those characteristics and putting them into action are the recipients of F.X. Aherne awards.

The awards are named after the late Dr. Frank Aherne, a much-loved professor of swine nutrition and production at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and a major force for science-based progress in the western Canadian pork industry.

"The Aherne awards have become an important part of the Seminar, but in many ways they represent the fundamental character of the industry," says Dr. Michael Dyck of the University of Alberta, chair of the F.X. Aherne committee.

"The award recipients are people who have developed either original solutions to pork production challenges or creative uses of known technology. They demonstrate the power of new ideas, and that is something we want to celebrate. The response from across Canada in recent years and the interest in the winning technologies have been truly gratifying."

Award winners for 2012 will be determined by December 1, 2011 and announced during the Seminar. More information is available on the BPS website.

Check out the options for BPS registration, accommodation

Date posted: October 25, 2011

Registration is now open for the 2012 Seminar. And there are some ways to save money when registering.

Long-time organizer, Ruth Ball knows from experience that it's important to provide options to attendees. For starters, there are discounts for early registration prior to December 1, 2011. Also, when five people from the same company, farm or organization register for the Seminar, they will receive the sixth registration free.

There are plenty of options for accommodation on the Banff Centre Campus or in the town of Banff. It's best to book early.

Full registration, accommodation and program details are available on the Banff Pork Seminar Website.

Gearing up for Banff

Date posted: October 25, 2011

There are many standout benefits that have long attracted participants to the Banff Pork Seminar and made it a consistently well-attended, top event of its kind.

Leading-edge knowledge. Valuable insights and perspectives. A program anchored by high-quality, knowledgeable speakers. The opportunity to discuss the pork business peer-to-peer among a who's who of the industry. These are just a few.

One of the major draws, however, is unquestionably the opportunity to take in the event in a setting of spectacular nature in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Banff National Park is Canada's oldest national park. It attracts roughly three million visitors each year and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

When gearing up for BPS, it's worth taking time to consider the sightseeing and recreational opportunities the area offers. A few helpful links are below. Look forward to seeing you in beautiful Banff, January 17 to 20, 2012.

Enjoying the 'jewel of the Rockies'

Town of Banff. Provides an overview of what the town area has to offer, including a current "Activities and Events" section.

Banff Lake Louise Tourism. Covers everything from dining to recreation, including ideas on "Places to Explore" and "Things to Do."

Explore Rockies. Information on tours covering all the must-see area attractions.

Available for reprint. News from the Meristem editors covering the 2012 Banff Pork Seminar. Inside BPS Blog articles are available for reprint. Please credit "Meristem Land and Science" and include an active link to

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