Swine Task Force Accomplishments
Swine Source Book - a compilation of literature from both research and popular press articles that focus on Pasture farrowing and finishing, Hoop Huts for swine finishing, and the Swedish Deep-bedded system. In early 1999, 225 copies were published and distributed to farmers, extension educators, and other interested in alternative systems of production. Another 250 were ordered and are currently available through MN Extension Publications.
Database - A list of 232 farmers, professors, researchers, extension educators, and others interested in alternative systems of pork production has been created. This total number will continue to expand as people express interest and are added to the list.
Alternative Swine Newsletter- A newsletter that discusses activities of the Swine Task Force, field days, conferences, and other upcoming events that focus on alternative systems and whole farm planning is sent to the list members every two months.
Database Survey- A survey was conducted of those who had signed up for the list. Fifty participants responded to the survey questions, which focused on farmer needs in areas of information on alternative systems.
Financial Case Studies - This was a topic of much discussion, but has been abandoned, at least temporarily. The STF will be considering other options at the next meeting on April 3rd.
Alternative Marketing - In June of 1999, the Marketing Committee, in conjunction with the Swine Center and the MN Pork Producers, held an Alternative Marketing Workshop. Thirty professors, researchers, farmers, and industry specialists were in attendance.
One idea generated from this activity led to the development of a survey that was distributed to producers and others whose businesses are listed in the MN Grown and the Specialty Meats directory. They in turn gave it to their customers to fill out and return. The survey information received may give us a profile of the type of consumer interested in buying meat directly from producers. This may help us find larger markets for farmers interested in direct marketing.
Another idea that the Marketing Committee is currently pursuing is the development of a MN Grown Label, that will be available for those producers who are using alternative systems of production.
Wayne Jim Van Der Pol, and others from the STF have been meeting with Thomas Blaha, a professor at the Swine Center, who is developing a marketing certification program. They have also been meeting with Jim Ennis regarding the Food Choices Initiative which will identify organic and alternative production through labeling.
Research Facilities @ Morris - The Swine Task Force has directed the development of alternative systems of production at the UM Morris Facility. An older farrowing unit will be remodeled into a Swedish Deep-bedded system in Spring 2000. Four Hoop Huts have been constructed for finishing and gestation.
Swine Systems Position @ Morris - A faculty position has been created for the WROC at Morris. The person to be hired for this position will use the facilities described above for research on alternative systems of production. Unfortunately after conducting two searches, that position has not yet been filled. The search committee is currently working with others at the U of M to establish different minimum qualifications that might make it easier to fill the position.
Endowed Chair Position @ Morris - Jim VanDerPol is a farmer from Kerkhoven, MN who practices alternative production methods on his farm, and also does some direct marketing of the pigs he raises. He held the College of Agriculture Endowed Chair position for the year 1999-2000. He will probably continue in the role of consultant to the U of M, to oversee the completion of the alternative facilities being built at West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris.
Rural Sociologists in Endowed Chairs at U of M- Cornelia and Jan Flora have been in the Endowed Chair positions since October 1999. They are doing research on the SE Regional Partnerships, and Cornelia will conduct a symposium on alternative marketing in April 2000.
Rural Sociologist @ Morris- Wynne Wright was hired in August 1999. She will conduct research on livestock production systems as they impact families and communities.
Pigs, Pork, and Prosperity - In April of 1999 Jim VanDerPol produced a series of programs that were aired on public TV in western Minnesota. They discussed alternative production and marketing. It was a call-in show, with many people calling to express their support for this activity.
Swine Center- Jim Van Der Pol gave a year-end report on the Alternative Swine Program to the faculty and staff of the Swine Center. It was well received.
-Wayne, Jim Van Der Pol, Lee Johnston, and Steve Stassen wrote a research proposal that was submitted to the National Pork Producers.
-Wayne, Lee J., Jim Van Der Pol, and others from the Swine Center wrote a collaborative proposal that was submitted to the Legislative Committee for Minnesota Resources.
-Wayne, Jim, and faculty from the Swine Center, along with the Flora's, will be submitting a proposal to the Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems. This will be a multi-state, multi-university, interdisciplinary study, in conjunction with other Midwestern universities.