Tag Archives: swine

Marshall, MN — April 1, 2019 — Ralco announced today the promotion of Dr. Russell Fent to Director of Swine Technical Group. In his new role, Dr. Fent will lead the swine technical team and the expansion of Ralco’s swine research efforts in support of EnMAX®, Ralco’s innovative swine nutrition program. EnMAX is rapidly gaining favor in today’s economic conditions for its ability to save producers money while maximizing gain.

“Over the years I have watched Dr. Fent develop as a leader and advance his technical abilities as well as create lasting relationships within our sales force and customer base,” said Dr. Jim Hedges who inspired the creation of EnMAX and the development of Ralco’s swine team, including the hire of Dr. Fent over 14 years ago.

Dr. Fent joined Ralco in 2005 after obtaining a doctorate in Swine Nutrition at the University of Missouri. Russell obtained a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science degrees from Oklahoma State University. Since joining Ralco, Dr. Fent has been involved in a wide range of research projects, protocols, and product development initiatives to further advance Ralco’s EnMAX swine program. “Dr. Fent’s knowledge and experience will help drive Ralco’s swine program forward and bring the best solutions forward for our producers,” said Dr. Hedges.

As Dr. Fent transitions to his new role, Dr. Hedges will continue with Ralco as Chief Technical Advisor to support customers and the swine team and will serve Russell as a trusted mentor. Ralco President and CEO Brian Knochenmus said, “This is an exciting time for Ralco as we transition a new leader into our swine program. Since 2004, swine nutrition has been a pillar of our company with Dr. Hedges being a large part of its creation and development. Jim brought revolutionary concepts to swine nutrition and he isn’t done yet. In his new role he will be able to continue investing in people, managing relationships with our suppliers, and taking great care of customers. Dr. Hedges’ investment in Dr. Fent and the rest of the swine team will ensure that his legacy thrives, and I am confident Dr. Fent is going to take our swine program to the next level.”

In the coming months, Ralco is also looking to further expand the swine team as part of their continued growth and to further leverage their state-of-the-art research facilities to advance the EnMAX program for the benefit of swine producers.

Ralco is a third-generation family-owned multinational company with distribution in more than 20 countries. Ralco is a leading global supplier of livestock nutrition, animal health products and crop enhancement technologies that support large segments of the livestock, poultry, aquaculture and crop production industries. https://ralcoagriculture.com/

Outside of its origins on the African continent, African swine fever (ASF) continues its relentless march through parts of Asia and Europe, causing increasing disruption to the world’s pork production. Much of the world’s attention has been on China due to its No. 1 position in global pork production. The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) now reports that nearly all of China’s provincial level administrative units (see heat map) have reported one or more ASF breaks, which means all but the far west (and Hong Kong and Macau) of China now has some level of ASF exposure.

Official reports peg China’s losses to culling and mortality at about one million pigs since the outbreak was reported last August. However, unofficial reports put that number as much as 10 times that amount. According to economist Steve Meyer with Kerns and Associates, China’s breeding herd is down 19 percent from one year ago and total market hogs are down 16 percent from a year ago. This has greatly hindered China’s ability to feed its population pork, which it typically desires. This could be a driver behind the recent largest purchase of U.S. pork by China in two years despite the self-imposed tariffs.

Non-governmental reports from U.S. pork industry visitors cite China’s ASF as “endemic,” meaning fleeting hope of containment or eradication anytime in the near future. This is further evidenced by the recent confirmation of the ASF virus in neighboring Vietnam, where it has been confirmed in 17 provinces in the northern part of the country. Other pig-raising countries nearby with growing levels of concern include Thailand, whose pork industry is worth $3.3 billion a year and is considered the region’s most advanced. By some estimates, up to 80 percent of Thai pork is raised on large farms, which should improve biosecurity. However, neighboring countries are typically less sophisticated in their pig-rearing abilities.


The National Pork Board has named Norman Bessac as its new Vice President of International Marketing. Bessac is currently director of international sales for Tyson Fresh Meats, a position he has held since 2016.

Bessac has spent his entire career in international sales and marketing, business development, customer communications and consumer insights roles in the fresh meat industry. Prior to Tyson, Bessac served as the vice president of international pork sales and marketing at Cargill Meat Solutions in Wichita, Kansas.

“The marketing and promotion of U.S. pork has never been more critical for America’s pork producers,” said Bill Luckey, chair of the Pork Checkoff’s International Marketing committee and a pig farmer from Columbus, Nebraska. “Given today’s challenging international marketing environment, Norman’s extensive knowledge of the pork industry and his deep experience in international markets and consumer preferences will continue our work to elevate pork sales on the global level.”

U.S. pork exports are challenged by the ongoing renegotiation of trade agreements, especially for top markets like Japan, Mexico, Canada and China. While the volume of exports has remained strong in the past year, the value of pork exports was relatively steady, declining by 1 percent, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Pork exports represent approximately 26 percent of all U.S. production.

The National Pork Board works closely with USMEF and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) in researching and developing new markets and expanding the existing customer base for U.S. pork. In 2018, top global markets for U.S. pork exports include Mexico, Japan, China, South Korea, Canada and Colombia.

“As the pork industry’s continued success depends heavily on access to export markets, it is important to collaborate with experts that can identify new markets while meeting the marketing needs of established markets,” said Bill Even, National Pork Board chief executive officer. “That means continuing to work closely with USMEF, the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service and NPPC. We welcome Norman to the Pork Checkoff in this very important role.”

Over the years, Bessac has held many strategic leadership roles in the food industry with top household name brands including Tyson, Cargill and Sara Lee. Bessac will join the Pork Board staff on April 1.

“I’m honored to join the Pork Checkoff in this critical role. I have decades of experience and knowledge of the fresh meat industry, specifically from the perspective of global food production, processing, sales and marketing,” Bessac said. “I know the players well and look forward to continuing to work closely with them as I shift my focus in a new, aggressive direction on behalf of America’s pork producers.”

Bessac has a Master of Business Administration degree from Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Business (Nashville) and a Bachelor of Science in Marketing/Management from the University of South Carolina (Columbia).