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The Egg Industry Center hosted the 8th annual Egg Industry Issues Forum in Chicago, Illinois on April 20-21, 2016. Returning to Chicago for a second time in its history, attendance was up 130% over the last time Forum was held in the Windy City. Forum registration was just over 200 individuals with workshops and tours both well attended. One participant wrote, "[Forum is] always one of my favorite industry events to attend." And the Egg Industry Center plans to keep it that way!
Forum started with a welcome by Egg Industry Center Director Dr. Hongwei Xin. This was followed by the Don Bell Memorial Lecture given by Mr. Brett Stuart of Global AgriTrends who provided insight on the global protein outlook. Presentations throughout the two days discussed sustainability, cage-free considerations, avian influenza, and consumer perspectives. Speaker presentations can be found on the EIC website under Forum Archives. Forum speaker and tour-participant Bruce Dooyema, Center Fresh Farms Logistics Coordinator, commented on his experience at Forum in 2016, "For me, I took away from the Forum experience the urgency in the need to tell our story and that we can not be afraid to do so. The farm tour connected for me the possibilities of how that can be done. The industry is in a planning/building phase right now, why can't we incorporate observation rooms? We have an opportunity to bring people in and if done correctly, not be afraid of issues. Most egg farmers I know are proud of their farms; we just need to figure out a new way to display that so the whole industry can benefit."
The Fair Oaks Farms tour proceeded the presentations on Wednesday morning and provided an opportunity for participants to tour both a commercial scale dairy and pork farm as well as a seasonal cage-free hen barn (which was not yet populated). In addition, attendees received a presentation from Fair Oaks Farms staff which explained the art of teaching the public about agriculture and eco-friendly choices made on farms. One such example for them is the conversion of the dairy's nutrient stream into natural gas used to power their fleet of semi trucks that deliver milk across the country. Even given their background in agriculture, tour attendees reported they were not prepared for the operation's scale, educational insight, or overall experience. More than one attendee indicated they were planning to take their family back. Fair Oaks is currently adding a crops adventure and future plans include a hotel and conference facility and a full-scale layer complex for their Ag adventure. The Egg Industry Center was egg-cited to partner with Fair Oaks to offer this tour as part of the Forum experience. We believe that good things will continue to come from this real display of true and modern agriculture - for families in the US and abroad.
Completing the activities on Thursday afternoon were workshops on biosecurity and market management best practices. These topics were well received by the attendees. The Egg Industry Center would once again like to thank the 2016 sponsors who made this event possible: Hy-Line North America, Big Dutchman, Michael Foods, Inc., Val-Co, Vencomatic, Elanco, King Techina, Henning Companies, LLC, Provimi, Fair Oaks Farms, Phibro Animal Health, Grassworx, Kemin Industries, Zoetis and Hendrix Genetics.
We are looking forward to seeing you next year in Columbus, Ohio - April 19 & 20, 2017.