Behind the Lines - October 2008

The online dictionary Wikipedia defines a false economy as “an action which saves money at the beginning but which, over a longer period of time, results in more money being wasted than being saved.” It gives many instances.

This issue of Better Pork carries several stories devoted to dealing with false economies – short cuts which producers may be tempted to take as they cut costs to survive the current downturn in markets. In our cover story, “The key to preventing barn fires,” Don Stoneman reports on concerns that pig barns built in the construction boom that began a little more than10 years ago may be more susceptible to corrosion from gases and require more maintenance of electrical and copper than barns in the past. The result of lack of maintenance can be a devastating fire. Such fires have already taken place in Ontario’s hog belt, costing tens of millions of dollars in damages and lost income. This story starts on page 6 and offers some economical ways by which producers can assure that electricity in their barns is safe.

On page 22, nutritionist Janice Murphy writes that the positive effects of antibiotics in pig diets appear to be short-lived and feeding potato protein may be a better bet in the long term. And on page 28, Ontario Pork’s environmental specialist Sam Bradshaw reports on steps to maintain outstanding barn air quality. 

Finally, agricultural engineer Ron MacDonald writes about the dangers of moisture buildup in pig barn attics. Failure to remove moisture, and keep it out, can have serious consequences.

As Better Pork goes to press, a late summer rally in pork prices appears to be over and prices are trending downward. There will be more and more pressure for farmers to ignore routine maintenance on barns. Please remember the unintended consequences that can result.

And finally you'll notice a change in our Second Look column. Ever since we launched Better Pork in February 2000 to fill the large void left by the bankruptcy of Farm & Country Pork, Richard Smelski has graced our back page with his thoughts on the state of the industry. He has, in his inimitable style, prodded, provoked and challenged. Now Richard has suggested that we open the back page up to others in the industry and I'm pleased to report that Mary Jane Quinn has taken up the challenge in this issue with some timely thoughts on food recalls. We have an impressive lineup of other industry thinkers to follow in Smelski's tradition.

Let us know how you like the change.


Better Pork - October 2008