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The Elephant in the Room Demands Some Time

One of the most revealing quotes I heard recently was “What would we be talking about if we didn’t talk about ethanol?” No doubt it is the elephant in the room for most livestock producers so it is important to spend some time on it but there are so many other interesting and important topics flying under the radar of the ethanol intoxication. We need to and will break out of this fixation and take a wider view soon. Regardless, here are some thoughts about the ethanol situation as it impacts corn prices and cost of production for pigs just to make sure the groundwork is set for future comments.

There's a lot happening in the Pork Industry today

There’s a lot happening in the pork industry today. Brazil bought into the global beef and pork business in a big way with J & F Participacoes, S.A. purchase of Swift & Co. ending a long speculation (since 2002) about who would eventually own those assets. Those who predicted countries like Brazil, with underdeveloped infrastructure and disease containment mechanisms would have a hard time competing with U.S. produced beef and pork in the export market just got a valuable lesson. If you don’t have everything you need domestically to compete, you can always consider buying the capabilities and attributes abroad. We went down there for cheap inputs. They came up here for access to the Pacific markets among other things.

Creating an innovation environment

There is no magic innovation gene or bullet.

You can create the environment in which "innovation" can happen.

The environment must include:

  • the ability to fail and try again,
  • recognize that not all things will succeed,
  • there must be a way to "escape" the cultural bubble in existence,
  • formality at the beginning of idea creation must be relaxed (no forms, business cases, project management plans, etc...),
  • people from varied backgrounds (experience, expertise, domain knowledge, etc.) must be able to interact on a regular basis,
  • less money is better than more (this forces you to think about ways to get stuff done), and
  • quick prototyping (aka the IDEO way) is explicitly encouraged.

However, the environment alone will not guarantee innovation. People must be willing, able, excited, engaged, diving into, running full speed, jumping up and down, tumbling, springing at the opportunity the environment allows/supports. The barrier to participate in such an environment must be zero; Any barriers one has to cross to get to such an environment reduces the innovation spark just a bit.

The Squeal T0002, Dr. Jayson Lusk - Politics of Food

The Squeal 0002 Show Notes:
  • Dr. Jayson Lusk - Politics of Food