Friday, August 18, 2017

International trade visit puts Washington fruit front and center

Communications

Among its many trade support services, WSDA’s International Marketing Program facilitates trips for international buyers and Washington state producers. These trips, referred to as trade missions, put representatives from both sides of the trade relationship together so one can learn more about the crops and markets of the other. 

A recent “inbound” trade mission welcomed representatives from Southeast Asia, Mexico and Central America. It was a large group that represented international markets interested in the fresh produce Washington offers. 

Apples and boxes travel on conveyor belts through the Stemilt packaging facility.
The delegates, representing import, retail, distribution and wholesale industries, expressed interest in looking for fruit suppliers, which made the Washington state portion of their trip an ideal opportunity.

In Yakima, the Washington State Fruit Commission delivered a briefing before the buyers participated in one-on-one meetings with 15 different Washington-based companies. Connecting buyers to suppliers is one of the primary functions of the international marketing program.

"These meetings created an opportunity for buyers to meet with known suppliers or build relationships with new ones," said WSDA trade specialist Julie Johnson.

In Wenatchee, the Washington Apple Commission also provided a market briefing to buyers, setting the tone for the day's tours of fruit packaging facilities and an orchard.

A day of Washington fruit

At Stemilt Growers, the large group of delegates was split into smaller tour groups organized by language. Two new international marketing team members, Zachary Garza and Elisa Daun, were a valuable addition to the trip. Both trade experts, they have additional multilingual skills; Zachary is a fluent Spanish speaker, and Elisa is fluent in Mandarin. 

The tour guide gathered attendees around him and discussed current and future apple trends, with an emphasis on Cosmic Crisp. Group members asked about the new variety’s color and size, and whether and when they’d be packaged and sold. 

The guide described Cosmic Crisp’s bright color and lustre, adding that it was an ideal size for packing and shipping.


Workers sort through cherries at the Domex Superfruit Growers packaging facility.
The group then made its way to Domex Superfresh Growers, where general manager Ron Gonsalves led the group into a hallway where the packaging process could be seen. “See all this? This is new,” he said, gesturing toward the room of machines and workers. Half of the facility was lost in a fire two years ago. 

But that day, in the middle of an industry-wide cherry processing peak, an unknowing observer couldn’t have guessed at the facility’s loss. Stainless steel machines hummed and workers combed through piles of cherries, separating leaves from fruit. 

Domex Superfresh Growers is one of the largest cherry lines in the state. At the peak of cherry season, it packs up to 2,000 bins per day, and workers pack in shifts 7 days per week to keep up.

A worker at Domex Superfruit Growers separates leaves from the cherries.

At the next stop, McDougall and Sons’ Legacy Orchard presented visitors with rows of ambrosia apple trees. Scott McDougall talked with the group about varieties and orchard operations. Learning about the goals and challenges fruit growers have gave visitors more context for how fresh fruit gets from the tree in Washington to their shelves and tables abroad. 

Washington was not the buyers' only destination; before turning in for the evening, the group would trek to Seattle before an early flight to California. 

An ambrosia apple at McDougall & Sons' Legacy Orchard.
“We hope that by the time they return home,” said Julie, “they have more knowledge about Washington agriculture and are eager for trade opportunities in the future.”

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Swine health recommendations for pig exhibitors

Dr. Minden Buswell and Dr. Dana Dobbs
WSDA Veterinarians

Showing pigs at fairs is a time-honored farming tradition, but it puts pigs in close contact with each other and people. They’re also in a new environment with unfamiliar animals and around potentially disease spreading equipment, like brushes and boots. These factors can increase the risk of disease for the pigs.

Some diseases can transmit between humans and pigs, not just from animal to animal. One example is Influenza A, or “Swine Flu,” which has been a problem at fairs in recent years.

Pigs shown at the 2015 Washington State Fair.
Another illness, Seneca Valley Virus (SVV) has recently been on the rise. Also called Senecavirus A, it’s an unfamiliar disease that presents symptoms similar to foot-and-mouth-disease (FMD). The only way to tell the difference is through veterinary diagnostic tests, so alert your veterinarian if you find blisters around the snout, mouth or hooves, or notice general symptoms of illness like fever, lethargy and loss of appetite.

Before the exhibition or show

To keep your pigs healthy and limit the spread of disease, make sure you are meeting exhibition health requirements. In addition, it is a good idea take some swine health precautions.
  • Make a biosecurity plan well before you head to an exhibition.
    • A biosecurity plan involves preparing for shows, understanding disease risk factors and signs of illness, managing pig health and cleanliness while at an exhibition, and caring for your pig afterward.
  • Have your paperwork with you at the fair. 
    • Files should include up-to-date health certificates, including your name, contact information, farm address and premise identification number (PIN). 
    • The health certificate should also provide updated information about each pig, such as individual identification in the form of a unique number on the PIN tag, and a physical description.
  • Keep your veterinarian’s phone number in your barn with your pig’s papers and in your cell phone. 
  • Use an individual, readable identification method for each pig.
    • Individual identification is a helpful way to identify a pig in the event of a health issue or validation of ownership. 
At the exhibition or show

At a fair, exhibition, or sale, be sure to assess your pigs’ health on a daily basis. Here are some other recommendations:
  • Look for common signs of illness - fever (a rectal temperature higher than 102.5), loss of appetite, lethargy, coughing, nasal discharge, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing (also called “thumping”) are all signs something may be amiss.
  • Keep the area clean by washing, disinfecting and drying equipment.
    • Do not share equipment (such as buckets, brushes, restraint devices, etc.) with other exhibitors.
  • Wash your hands or at least use hand sanitizer after handling animals and before going to other animal exhibits.
  • Change barn clothes after handling animals, especially before going to other animal exhibits.
  • Report any health issues to the exhibit manager and show veterinarian immediately.
After the exhibition/show

When pigs are brought home after the fair, disease risk can be high. Pigs from different farms are brought together and comingled with each other. Just like people can spread illness by comingling with others in a public space, pigs from varying locations and health statuses can spread illness to each other. It’s a good idea to isolate returning pigs.
  • Upon returning home, establish an isolation plan with your veterinarian. An isolation period should last between seven and 30 days.
    • The isolation area should be clearly designated and far away from other pigs which have not been to an exhibit.
  • Perform chores for isolated pigs at the end of the day, after you’ve worked with other pigs.
  • Keep clothes, tools and equipment separate for each location.
    • You can also use disposable coveralls and boots.
  • Clean and wash your trailer before using it to haul other animals.
Signage at the 2015 Washington State Fair.
Healthy, happy pigs are an important part of the showing experience, and create a valuable learning experience for those unfamiliar with agriculture and animal husbandry. Keep your pig’s area clean, watch for disease symptoms, and know who to contact if you suspect a health issue.

For more information, visit www.swinehealth.org/fact-sheets, or view www.pork.org/showpigs for additional biosecurity resources.

To learn more about Seneca Valley Virus, please refer to this fact sheet