Last week, I began my internship with the National Junior Swine Association (the youth-oriented division of the National Swine Registry) at one of the busiest/craziest times of the year. Not only is the office in full "get ready" mode for the World Pork Expo which will be held next week in Des Moines, IA, but the Magazine Department is working to put the finishing touches on the next issues of both Seedstock EDGE (the NSR magazine) and The Pinnacle (the NJSA magazine) AND the office is dealing with the most recent ramifications of the H1N1 virus (inappropriately labeled by the media as the "swine flu").
On this last point, it has been extremely interesting to see how a disease issue can affect all aspects of the swine industry and, in actuality, it is the second summer in a row that I have gotten to assist in covering all of our bases when it comes to swine shows. Last summer, Michigan experienced four cases of pseudorabies in hogs on hunting preserves. In that case, jackpot shows in the area were cancelled, blood tests were done, and county fair sales became terminal. Now, at NSR, the same issues are arising--only on a much bigger level.
I must prelude this by saying how proud and confident consumers should be with the pork industry in all of the steps they've taken to provide the United States with a safe food supply. Even before H1N1, biosecurity measures are taken on farms all across the country to ensure that no disease enters or leaves our farming operations. Shower-in/shower-out facilities, biosecure boots for visitors, and quarantine time for people between visits to different farms are just the beginning of the steps farmers take to protect their herds and the American people.
While there was fear that the World Pork Expo shows would be cancelled due to the worry surrounding H1N1, the show indeed will go on and, between the NSR and the National Pork Board, no rock has been left unturned when it comes to making plans regarding the show. No exhibitor or hog will enter that has exhibited flu-like symptoms (even if it is the normal flu and not H1N1), show veterinarians will be on hand and in contact with show officials at all times, and in the event that there is any problem, it will be dealt with immediately by persons who specialize in swine management and care. In short, you--as a consumer--are safe...and so is your pig :)
On a lighter note, it looks like the World Pork Expo is going to be a great show for all involved--especially the junior members! There are over 500 kids, aged 3-21, exhibiting 1404 hogs. NJSA members will participate in showmanship, the gilt show, a crossbred and purebred barrow show, and a judging contest. They will work to earn prizes, money, and great experiences! I am so excited to be working for NJSA and look forward to a wonderful summer of more shows, more experiences, and more fun!!