strengthens international relations through advanced swine course
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While specialized workshops and
courses are common on U.S. university campuses during the summer
months, one at the University of Illinois that concluded in late
June is unique for its history of international outreach. The 2004
Advanced Swine Production Technology course featured presenters and
participants from Mexico, Venezuela, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, the
Dominican Republic, the United States, Canada and Scotland and
employed the full-time services of a translator. The participants
were technical consultants who work for Elanco in Central and South
America and the Caribbean.
"This course traditionally has been
unique in the sense of its breadth of subject matter and the
intensity of the work over a one-week period," said Vernon Fowler, a
research scientist at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, who
was one of the presenters at the June 13-19 course.
The student body for this year's course
consisted entirely of Central and South American field
representatives of Elanco, a firm engaged in pork production in
those and other regions. It marked the first time one company
provided all the students.
"We've been doing this course for about
10 years, offering it every two years," said Michael Ellis, a U of I
professor of animal sciences. Ellis and Robert Easter, dean of the
College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, are
co-founders of the program. Gilbert Hollis, professor emeritus of
animal sciences, assisted Ellis in organizing this year's program.
"We consider this course part of the
college's international outreach and a way to build relations with
U.S. companies that compete in the global marketplace," he said.
The theme of this year's course was to
review all aspects of pork production that might affect the
variability of the end product.
"Wide variation in product can mean an
economic loss for producers," explained David Cobb, Elanco's manager
for global marketing.
Variation is represented by such things
as different weights among a group of pigs raised and marketed
together and the time it takes the animals to develop.
Fowler referred to the pigs that lag in
development as "tail-enders." These pigs bring a smaller price and,
in some cases, with the tight margins in the pork industry, the
reduced price can take away a good deal of the producer's profit.
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Jose Cordero, an agribusiness
consultant in Latin America and a presenter during the sessions,
said that the U of I's biennial pork production course provides an
excellent opportunity to exchange information.
"You have an opportunity to get the
latest information on what technology can offer to the industry. In
essence, you get a transferable package of knowledge that can be
used and applied in your environment," he said. "Plus, you see all
the challenges the pork industry is facing on a global scale. This
information helps you target your competitive focus."
This year's course focus on variability
fits with what Cordero views as the biggest challenge to the pork
"How, as a producer, do you
consistently produce a product for different consumers?" he said.
"How, as a producer, do you react to the new competitive order in
which the market is defined by the consumer rather than the producer
in an open-trade environment?"
For a pork industry supplier like
Elanco, answers to these questions are also important, said Cobb.
"We spend a lot of time helping our
customers, the producers, solve problems," he explained. "The
information we gain at this course will help us do a better job,
especially considering the fact that the U of I is a leader
developing and sharing information on pork production."
participants faced an intense schedule, from a Sunday evening to the
following Saturday evening, marked by days crammed with
presentations beginning at 8 a.m. and concluding at 6 p.m.
of Illinois news release]