In times of Covid-19, everyone runs to the web to stay in touch with friends, customers and trade partners. Where most had to find their way in the digital world, the organisers of SwineTalks had already been eyeing an event like this since 2016.
It was hard to predict that a human virus would have a more profound effect on the global swine business than most pig viruses would ever do. SARS-CoV-2 – causative agent of Covid-19 – did, however, upset the pig business. One only has to think of meatpackers who had to close their doors temporarily because of virus spread, or of production and delivery chains being severely altered due to a different demand from the market, and it’s easy to see why 2020 will not be quickly forgotten.
In the domain of international pig events, the effects of Covid-19 were also strongly felt. For the second time in a row, World Pork Expo had to be cancelled, the International Pig Veterinary Society (IPVS) Congress was postponed until 2022 (read more on page 14), and major shows like SPACE and EuroTier were taken off the 2020 calendar. It’s entirely unclear when things will be back to normal – if there ever is going to be a ‘normal’ again.
Where opportunities disappear, others come into existence. Over the last few months, many organisations and companies have gone online to create webinars or more sophisticated online events. Even larger events have moved part of or their entire programme online. In this context it is interesting to zoom in on the event SwineTalks, which is an entirely new, corona-proof international pig event – to be enjoyed from the living room or study.
The event, to be held 7–8 October, features a wide range of expert swine speakers from, for example, the US, China, Canada and Japan and is built around the format of TED Talks, says organiser Dr Márcio Gonçalves (pictured), also known from his recent podcast series Swine It. He had long been interested in the TED Talks format, which encourages interesting ideas to be conveyed by speakers in roughly eight to a maximum of 18 minutes. But to get that organised for swine production was a different story, as ‘agriculture’ was not a topic that was warmly applauded by TEDx.
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Dr Gonçalves says, “So – in a rebellious move – we will have an event with a similar format about swine production. Imagine if we could use our community of swine professionals to find the best and brightest from our industry and have them deliver powerful and engaging 8 to 18-minute talks that will change our way of thinking. Our goal with the SwineTalks Online Conference is to transform our industry, one speech at a time.”
With plans already in motion, the Covid-19 pandemic just accelerated the concept. Speakers will address the audience while connecting to the web conference from their offices or homes. Just like with TED, the main idea is to have thought-provoking thoughts, not so much slides.
Apart from Dr Otake, notable speakers will include Aidan Connolly from Cainthus; Dr Scott Dee on behalf of Pipestone Veterinary Services, US; and Dr Joaquim Segales from IRTA-CReSA in Spain. Topics will include biosecurity, precision pork production, pig nutrition and, of course, African Swine Fever. As Dr Gonçalves put it, “The main goal of this event is to not be boring.”
The SwineTalks Web Conference is happening 7–8 October 2020 and has over 25 world-renowned experts from the global pig industry.