Banff Pork Seminar carries international cachet

UAlberta co-ordinates massive information exchange annually

ALES news staff - 04 January 2018

One of the world's largest agriculture seminars was founded by the University of Alberta's Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, which has built it into the premier global gathering for producers, researchers, government and industry representatives.

The Banff Pork Seminar, which takes place Jan. 9 to 11, is headed into its 47th year as a do-not-miss information exchange that attracts more than 700 attendees from North America, South America, Europe, Australia and even China. It is renowned for its many opportunities to network with the pork field's top players, and for how comprehensively it covers topical research and news.

"A good example of that happened in 2014, when there was a major outbreak of porcine epidemic diarrhea that took place just as the conference was happening," says Michael Dyck, one of the event's co-organizers and an animal science professor in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences.

"Because we had all the experts there already, we held a round table discussion where anyone could ask questions. As a result, during a major crisis we were able to get ahead of, and on top of, the issue right away. It demonstrates that we have all the right expertise there-essentially all the industry represented-and it speaks to the networking and transfer of knowledge that we do."

This year's theme, "Looking to the future," will highlight emerging challenges, ranging from new technology and social media to animal welfare considerations.

In addition to keynote speakers addressing such issues as media coverage of agriculture, and how to use futures and options to manage price volatility, there are eight breakout sessions on leading-edge research. Among this year's international presenters are two experts in the risk and management of mycotoxins (fungus and mould in feed), and a European leader in swine technology. Dyck, who is leading the Genome Canada project on genomics of swine health, will share UAlberta's expertise in using artificial insemination to optimize sow productivity.

Two on-site awards also put emerging researchers in the spotlight among their peers. The Dr. FX Aherne Prize for Innovative Pork Production is the opportunity for anyone who has developed a relevant technology innovation to present it and vie for a prize valued at $2,000.

The R.O. Ball Young Scientist Award invites abstracts from both undergraduate and graduate students, with the top four selected to present their work during a breakout session, and the top two subsequently chosen for their overall combination of good and relevant science, a well-written abstract and excellent presentation, and awarded prizes of $500 and $250 each.

More information and registration here.