U.S. soybean producers may see increased markets for their crop due to international efforts of two Iowa State University animal scientists and the American Soybean Association (ASA).
Brad Skaar, professor of animal science, and Robert Rust, emeritus professor of animal science, this fall presented three seminars about the use of soybeans in hog products to pork producers and processors in Venezuela and Colombia. The ASA, which tries to increase the use of soybeans, sponsored these seminars.
Rust said soybean meal is a valuable protein additive in hog feed, and soy protein products are useful additives in meat processing for items such as frankfurters.
Rust and Skaar began offering pork seminars to South American producers six years ago after Lloyd Luckett, Latin American director for ASA, asked them to put together an educational program for pork producers who would be in Des Moines for the annual World Pork Expo.
"I thought when we presented the first seminar at Iowa State in 1995, it would be a one-time event, but we have presented it every year since. Twenty to 25 Latin American producers now attend the seminar at Iowa State each year," Rust said.
The seminars are aimed at improving pork quality and increasing pork consumption in Latin America. Skaar focuses on the ways to produce quality pork, at all stages, from baby pigs to the fresh carcass. Rust focuses on the actual processing of the pork both for fresh cuts and processed meat products.
For the past three years Rust and Skaar have presented seminars both in Ames and South America.
Policarpo Simosa, a hog producer in Venezuela who attended a seminar in Ames, has opened a pork processing plant, where he hosted one of this year's workshops.
"He (Simosa) indicated to us that the influences of these workshops are what jump-started him into this business," Skaar said.
Rust said most of the soybeans used in Latin America are imported. While some soybeans are imported from Brazil, Rust said, most are imported from the United States.
"These countries now consume pork at about one-tenth the per capita consumption of the United States," Rust said. He said if promotion of quality pork increases consumption, it would increase soybean exports and could significantly impact soybean prices in the United States.
Rust and Skaar will present their next seminar in cooperation with ASA at Iowa State this June. Rust said 15 to 20 South American pork producers and processors are expected.