World Pork Expo logo on cap

Neil Dierks says every option was considered before this year’s World Pork Expo was canceled.

“We have been monitoring it for some time and looking at all the ramifications involved in having it or not having it,” says Dierks, CEO of the National Pork Producers Council.

“We considered social distancing and where things might be leading, and there is a pretty good lead time into the expo for vendors and attendees. So, we made the decision to cancel.”

Last year, the expo was canceled due to concerns with African swine fever. This year, the event joined a lengthy list of cancellations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While deeply disappointed to cancel this year’s expo,

NPPC’s board of directors unanimously agreed it was prudent to make this decision now,” NPPC President Howard “A.V.” Roth, a pork producer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin, said in a news release March 30. “By eliminating COVID 19-related uncertainty surrounding the event, we allow producers and others across the industry to focus on the essential role we play in the nation’s food supply system at this critical time.”

Dierks says several options were considered, including postponing the show to a later date. He says the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, coupled with human safety, necessitated the cancellation.

“Postponing came with its own set of problems,” Dierks says. “It was a difficult decision but we believe it’s the right decision.”

The annual swine show had already been relocated to Indianapolis prior to NPPC’s decision. The show is operated by the National Swine Registry.

Clay Zwilling, CEO of the National Swine Registry, said the show — known as the Exposition — is still on schedule for June 7-13.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and staying in close contact with officials from the Indiana State Fairgrounds and following current guidelines from local, state and national health officials,” he said in an email.

Dierks says two consecutive years of canceling the expo will put a strain on NPPC’s budget, but he says the organization is in excellent shape.

“It does impact our budget, and we’re working through that,” he says. “NPPC still has the resources to do all our programming.”

Jeff DeYoung is livestock editor for Iowa Farmer Today, Missouri Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.