The Immigration Guy

A Popular Pig Meets The Immigration Guy

September 28, 2022 Kyle Farmer Season 1 Episode 7
The Immigration Guy
A Popular Pig Meets The Immigration Guy
Show Notes Transcript

CEO & Founding Attorney of Farmer Law PC, Kyle Farmer, sits down with Matthew Rooda, CEO of SwineTech. They chat about the pork industry, sustainability, labor market, and innovation within agriculture.

Find Matthew Rooda on LinkedIn or on the SwineTech Website.  

We know, the immigration system is messy! It’s complicated and confusing, especially for those looking to gain a visa or hire foreign workers. Farmer Law PC’s Immigration Guy, Kyle Farmer, knows all of the tricks of the trade. The firm specializes in innovative immigration solutions, some of which you’ll get to hear about on this podcast. Tune in for commentary on immigration-related news and industry insights, and The Immigration Guy’s thoughts on much more!

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Produced & Edited By: Drew Tattam

Today we're sitting down with Matthew Rooda, podcast host of Popular Pig. He's the founder and CEO of Swine Tech. He's Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree, fourth-generation port producer, certified nurse aide, and he's passionate about the swine industry. So welcome Matthew, and uh, thank you for taking your time to meet with us today.

Thank you for the invitation to have me here. 

Yeah, of course. Uh, is there anything else that you'd want to share with the listeners about yourself.?

Nah, that's okay. 

Hey y’all. This is the immigration guy with Kyle Farmer.

I, I’d love to hear about, uh, Swine Tech. Can you kind of tell people just what you do and how you got into it to begin with? 

So, Swine Tech is an AgTech company focused on helping pork producers maximize their people, processes, and pigs in order to provide the very best high-quality individualized care to those pigs.

So really helping take what exists for human health with patient management systems and bring that to animal agriculture so that we can be raising pigs as, as humanely and safely as possible. 

That's really cool. And I, I know that you're a fourth-generation port producer. I’m assuming that that's part of what got you into this, huh? And it seems like you kind of married the nursing aide with the pork production and boom, here you got a Swine Tech. 

Oh, absolutely. Long background in pork production. And didn't actually think the nursing and healthcare side would ever come into play. And I didn't think the pig component would ever come into play in healthcare when I was looking at becoming an obstetrician and talking with the University of Iowa's Medical Acceptance Committee, they said, “Do something different.” And I said, “Well, what's different?” I said, “What about if I managed a pig farm? I've got all of the babies being birthed.” And they were actually like, “That would be really awesome. That's exactly what we're looking for.” And I'm like, “Okay.” So, I spent my freshman and sophomore year as an assistant farm manager on a, uh, larger south farm, and then moved on as a nurse aide and a medication aide. 

After I had done that for a couple of years, we started Swine Tech with the original purpose of preventing little piglets from getting rolled on by their mothers during and after the birthing process. And it wasn't until four years later when we realized that there was a more foundational problem at play, and that was a lack of awareness around process compliance and pig care. And without knowing those things, it's really hard to take a technology, plug it in and get predictable return on that investment because there might be other bottlenecks that are preventing that return.

And so, we're sitting there right around COVID time actually thinking, What the heck are we gonna do? And we identified through healthcare and a lot of research in other industries as well, that healthcare had a pretty good model for labor efficiencies and high-quality care. And we really built our platform from what we learned in that in.

That's really cool. So, what, uh, I, I'm just kind of curious, what metrics do you use to kind of track your success? Like what do you take, like a baseline data sample of anything in particular, and then track that against, um, after implementation, the, the success? Cause you mentioned the ROI and I'm just kind of curious how you go about calculating that.

So, the ROI that we might track will be from productivity throughput of the system at the highest level, and you're either looking for two things, were we able to maintain productivity with less people? Mm-hmm. By allowing less people to provide a higher quality of care, therefore not needing as many, or with the same number of people.

Were we able to improve care by reducing stillborn rates, by improving care during the birthing process, reducing pre-weaning mortality rates. By being in the farm around those pigs in a, in a better way where we can identify those that are falling behind that might need extra assistance. And then sound mortality rates, being able to identify the highest priority animals that need the, uh, uh, certain assistance at a, at a given time.

So, uh, pig care from the piglet being birthed to the piglet growing, all the way to the mother that's carrying it to term and, and raising that litter. Those are the different areas we look at. Now, when you break that down to the farm level, what we're really trying to do is understand each individual's contributions and their level of success.

Today one thing we can do as what? What's that? 

Whenever you say each individual, are you referring to each individual person within the barn? 

Each individual person in the barn. Today, we know, okay, if I bred the animal 30 some days later, what is my conception? If we're using artificial insemination, but we really can't understand that anywhere else. So, we can't figure out who needs to be in the right seat on the bus to, to provide the best role. And there's a lot of fun sports analogies you can bring in there, but it's really getting down to that worker level and helping them understand the, the successes and failures of their contributions so that they can grow and improve in their role. And they're not blind to their, to their, uh, contributions. 

That's really cool. So let, let's say for example that I'm a large port producer and I have a whole bunch of, uh, animal breeders. So, they're, they're engaged with the AI process. Uh, I would be able to track the success of each individual, uh, and their, their job performance based off of that. And then I would be able to set up maybe KPIs based off of what I would expect for my people to hit. 

Yeah, so today, I mean, we've been able to do breeder to conception rate for a long time because it's an easy thing to track, but that's the only thing we can do. And so, it's bringing that individual level of assessment throughout the entire operation as opposed to just in the breeding.

How does pig flow actually, can you kind of explain what pig flow is? Just so people are aware. 

Pig Flow is a workforce and swine management platform that helps connect teams to better collaborate and provide high-quality individualized care to pigs. It was inspired by healthcare and really was birthed from customer discovery where we met with production managers and asked them, “What do you need?”

And they said, “Labor's a big challenge right now. It's hard to know what's happening, who's doing it, and if it's compliant to what we know is effective to provide high-quality care.” And knowing that you really can't pre-provide a tool to a user without getting that user's perspective. We went to the users in the farm, and we asked, “What makes you stressed and frustrated?” And they said, “Communication and organization. I want to know what needs to happen. When's the best time for it to be done, and did I do a good job?” And so, we found a really good synergy between what owners and managers were looking for and what people in the barn were wanting to connect together to provide the very best level of care. Almost everyone going into that farm wants to do a great, do a great job, and when they shower into that farm, the first thing that matters to them is the quality of care.

Yeah, that is. That is really cool. So how does it differ from other project management softwares? 

So, for us, it again, emulates a lot of patient management software, so really focused on what needs to happen, when does it need to happen? Were we compliant in regards to animal agriculture? Most of the software that exists today is more data collection and historical records. Uh, kind of evaluate historical trends and performance. Nothing is ever focused on labor nor compliance, and therefore there's a large gap between what is data collection and what is good pig care. Data tells us did we do a good job in regards to performance, but if we had an increase in more mortality, there's no way for us to tie that back to anything to understand was that an individual's action? Our process not being followed? Do we have the wrong process? So, we're really closing the gap between on-farm care and historical evaluation of performance. 

That's really cool. Ha. What have you seen has been the impact whenever you've seen farms actually start utilizing pig flow? What is, what have you seen historically? 

I think the coolest thing we've seen is when we bring on farms with a very diverse set of team members, most of those team members when they get the tool, are willing to do it. They're willing to give it a shot. Usually, when they're told they're doing something new, it actually is worse for them.

Yeah. So cuz it's more work. And so, they're like, “Eh.” And then they get a hold of it and they're thinking, “Well, I already do a good job at this.” And then within two hours they're like, “I had no idea. I had no idea that I was that far behi--, I'd had no idea going to the bathroom was leading to all these problems.”

And so, they very quickly learn that they need to communicate more. They quickly identify the things that they're doing that are leading to failure with all the goodest, the best intentions in the world, and how they now need to compensate for the things going on in the day that are actually causing failure that they do have control over.

And so that transparency for them is new and kind of pulls them in more than ever before. Kind of turns the… What used to be… I'll step back a second here. Pork production used to be a lifestyle. Farming was a lifestyle, and it still is around crops, but around livestock, especially pigs. It was a lifestyle.

And then in the nineties, as it started to really scale and grow, it became a career. And so, people were passionate about a career as a producer working for a larger family farm or entity, or corporation. Now it's become a job. The mentality's gone from lifestyle to career to job, and a lot of that is because it's become so science-based. It's become so refined. And what we're trying to do is bring that back to a career mindset where people could come in and see a clear path towards growth, a clear path towards how they can contribute and grow in their role, but also in the way that they provide care. And so, trying to kind of turn that back a bit.

Yeah, that, that's really cool. It, it's kind of interesting in agriculture because it seems like in a lot of ways agriculture lags from a technological standpoint, you know, and that's in a, in large part, that's kind of what's helped you get into it because you're like, “Oh man, look how advanced this software is in the, in the medical industry. Why can't we just apply this over here in the pork industry?” I, I think that's great. It's, it's really interesting to me. There's obviously an economic component to it because, uh, there's a, there's a balance there because whenever the cost of innovation exceeds the value of innovation, there is no innovation. That's what, that's what stifles innovation. Yep. 

But we've obviously seen an increased cost of labor, and I think that it started to push all sorts of agricultural producers into developing more from a technological standpoint. I think that's great, I think that that's one thing that also makes the United States so successful in our production of agricultural commodities.

It is pretty remarkable because you have a, you know, you've got other countries like Brazil for example, uh, who are huge corn and soybean producers, uh, but their highway infrastructure is so bad that despite our significant labor cost difference, we're still more efficient at producing, uh, corn and soybeans, like where it, it is just, it's pretty remarkable to me.

Uh, and I think that there's gonna continue to be innovation in all these different areas and, uh, I think that's really needed. So, I, what you're doing is really, really cool. It's really cool. 

It's, it's interesting in agriculture, cuz you said, we typically lag in innovation, and we typically do, but ags weird. They're either first or last seemingly, uh, whether that's kind of what you're doing on the genetic side or on the pharmaceutical side. Or even on the, uh, computer vision for self-driving vehicles. We've had self-driving tractors for so long. It's incredible how we're either first… Yeah. Or last. And I think there's some good research to be done there to understand why, but it's pretty neat. 

And then when it comes to labor, one thing that's gonna really help the industry, uh, agriculture as a whole is a lot of the automation we're seeing in fast food and in like convenient stores and shopping, I think is gonna help a lot. The more self-checkout lanes you have is less people who are working for a comparable pay and a kind of a competitive world.

Uh, animal agriculture and agriculture in general. A lot of times that labor, you're competing with McDonald's. You're competing with Walmart. And so, as we start to automate some of that day-to-day stuff, I think we'll start to find a little bit more labor to help with feeding the world. 

Yeah. I think too, I, I have definitely seen agriculture leaning more on immigration for, uh, bringing over labor. I'm sure that you know this. People in hog production, people in corn production, and… Oh, really? Any sort of grain production almost anywhere in agriculture at this point relies heavily on, uh, immigrant labor. And I, I, I think that that's great. You know, there's, there's an aspect to that where there's a, people just.

People are, are pretty soft now, and a lot of Americans don't want this type of work. Uh, but a lot of people from Mexico, for example, would kill for it. I mean, they, they're, and they're so appreciative and it's, uh, it, it, it makes a big difference. So, like, even if, even if, because I, I completely agree with you that as they automate some of those other competing jobs, it's gonna free up some labor.

Uh, there's also two sides to that. It’s the people also have to be willing and eager to take on that job because mindset is so important. And that's something that the, uh, that the immigrant workforce has. You know, they're, they're grateful for the opportunity to work and it's, uh, it's a pretty cool thing. Uh, and yeah.

You know, one thing that you brought up that I think is exactly right as agriculture is either first or last, uh, one cool thing though is I, I think. The United States, we tend to be first in agriculture either way. Uh, you know, in the United States there's a, there's always a lot of innovation. There's always a lot of opportunity, and you're, you're kind of owning that, uh, with Swine Tech and, which is really cool.

Uh, but it is, it is, uh, it's definitely a unique industry. 

What's your favorite thing about working with producers in agriculture? 

So, I think the best thing about working with producers in agriculture is their passion for what they do and their thoroughness and ensuring that they're the best at it as as possible. I think that is… They're still in the lifestyle mindset and we're in a, we're in a transition here cause we have a lot of people, our industry really boomed in the nineties and a lot of those people who were a part of creating that are still doing it today, but they're in their sixties, seventies. When they step away, it's gonna be interesting. We're gonna lose a lot of those stories. A lot of that experience, a lot of that leadership, and we're hopefully gonna have great individuals step in behind them. But we're, we're moving beyond that first group of individuals who set it all up. And when you look historically, we've seen that in industries time and time again.

And some do well and some. So that's kind of on, on the top of mind with immigration. One really neat thing there is, you're right, they are super passionate about what they do. They appreciate the opportunity. A lot of times it allows 'em to go home five to 10 years later and start their own business and, and start a family, which is really neat.

I'd say we need to be careful, uh, around farms getting too invested in only immigrant labor. Right now, there's only certain industries that can access it, and we're seeing labor shortages everywhere. If that opens up, the labor pool for immigrant labor might be way lower than what it is now in regards to animal agriculture.

And we really can't afford to just have people walk away cuz these are lives we're taken care of. So that's kind of scary. We need to make sure we have a diversified labor force and an approach to that to make sure we don't get burned. And I think one thing that's interesting that, that when you look politically, cuz things are so divided around immigration… Is you… I don't think you're gonna find a more passionate group of individuals than Ag Republicans for increased legal immigration. 

Like nobody wants more immigration than those individuals because they are, they're, they're working with them on a daily basis, they're relying on that resource now, and they've been a big part of figuring out how to do it well.

How do you help 40 individuals come to the US, get their license, buy a home, integrate with the community? And I think that's the one thing that is also misunderstood and that I really like working with producers is how tied to their community they are and how, how big of a part these individuals are of their community. Without them there that a lot of these smaller rural communities would be gone. 

Yeah. It, I think that you're, you're spot on and it is, it is so funny to me because, you know that that's one thing that I, I talk about pretty often is that with immigration, they, they both, both political parties have their own incentives with immigration, so it makes the likelihood of any kind of immigration reform passing negligible.

Not happening any time soon. Unfortunately. Yes. Yeah. But it, it is kind of interest. Like the, the division within just the Republican party. Uh, it is, it's kind of interesting because you have some Republicans that are just like, “No, I don't like non-immigrant labor.” It's like, man, you don't know the implication that those guys have on, uh, you know, deep red areas.

And it is… But then you have republicans that are on the exact opposite side that are the strongest advocates for, uh, non-immigrant labor. And it is, it is. It's, it's really interesting. And I think a lot of that probably has to come down to education. Like you, yeah. You gotta teach these other people.

Cause I, you know, if. I, I know that like Ted Cruz for example, he's not the biggest H-2B fan. He's a, he is our senator. Uh, and, but I just, man, I just feel like if he just talked to 10 of our clients that lean on H-2B to get their people and grow their businesses and the, the US jobs that it provides, that people actually want, uh, the, the HR people, the accounting people, the project managers, the site supervisors, all the, all the stuff that relies on the labor. And I, I think that would change their mind. 

And I'm a big proponent of let's find local labor if we can. But there's certain industries where you get into ethical situations if you don't provide everything necessary. And that's anything where you're taking care of a living being. Yeah. Whether that's nursing homes and hospitals.

Which are also in labor shortages. Yeah. Or animal care if we aren't staffed. Those animals will die. Yes. Because they don't get good enough care. And that's not intentional. But if you… And this is doomsday, right? It's not what's happening now. Yeah. But if we get into doomsday where we are not allowed to have immigrant labor, you will have animals that cannot be fed and taken care of and it's not good.

Yeah. Whereas maybe, like I could understand on a strawberry farm, you know, if the strawberries don't get picked, the strawberry dies. And that's bad business. But it's a strawberry. It's, it's not an animal. Right. That, that's, uh, that's suffering. So, uh, we need to make sure we have people staffed in the areas where there's those ethical, ethical lines that shouldn't be crossed. 

Yeah, no, I think you're exactly right. Yeah. I don't think there's a lot of strawberry rights activists out there, but yeah, your… So, your point is well taken. Uh, which, you know, it is that that actually brings up kind of a, a relevant, a current relevant point that I think is gonna have some pretty big impacts on pork producers in particular, uh, pork actually. Really all of 'em. I mean, they all rely heavily on a visa that's called a TN visa. Um, yes. Right now, something that happened is our embassies so shut down a lot of the consulates that are processing those applications. So, like earlier this year, we would be able to find people, uh, process 'em and getting into the United States within a month.

Uh, then it got to be two months, then they shut down embassies and now it's at three months. And I, I'm concerned. Yep. Because all these producers are fighting for the same spots because they need 'em. And, uh, I'm concerned what's gonna happen long term there if they don't open up more embassies. But as far as we know right now, they have no intention on doing that.

You know, that was, that was one thing that I remember. I don't know if you remember this, but right at the beginning of COVID, uh, the Trump administration came out and said, “No more visas are being issued.” And that, that happened at, at night. And I didn't sleep that night. Cause I was thinking, ‘What in the world is this crap?’

And then the next morning they came out and said, “Unless you're in agriculture.” And I was like, “Oh yeah, okay, there we go. That makes, that makes more sense.” Uh, and so it was, but that was, uh, it, it is important I think that agricultural producers work hard on educating people about the importance of, um, all these different things.

And it, it has, there are serious implications for us that matter to everyone. I don't care if you are a vegan and you want to talk about the importance of pork production, it's still important to you, and that the reason is, is because the… Whenever a country is reliant on other countries to feed their people, it is a huge national security vulnerability.

So, for example, if we had to import all of our food from other countries and we couldn't feed our own people, all it takes is those countries getting mad at us to starve our people, and that's really dangerous. But here, here we're fortunate, we're the biggest agricultural exporter in the entire world. We can feed our people for now.

Um, but from a national security perspective, it is imperative that we're able to continue to do that. And I think that you do that through good legislation, you do that through good technological innovation. All of these things really matter a lot because they have, uh, consequences. Not just for those of us in this industry, but for everyone.

Yeah, we need to, probably need to be careful too, cuz I, I heard somebody say this the other day and I didn't really ever think about it before, but it's a good point. He's like, “We need to start building up a bit more” because we're starting to build out a lot and especially in the Midwest. And so, the crop line's going down and we need to make sure we preserve that as best as possible. Cause once you develop it, getting that topsoil and all those nutrients in the right place to produce the same amount of product again, is, is gonna be really hard. So, yeah. Um, yeah. I think preservation of agricultural land is something right now that we've seen, I mean, not on the highest list of importance, especially as these rural communities have grown since COVID and this housing market's kind of boomed.

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And I, I think that you have a lot of, uh, there there's also a lot of political pushes to get rid of a lot of agricultural land, uh, which is, that's a, that's a dangerous game to be playing.

Which it's interesting too, So I was talking with the CEO of a pork producer, larger group over in Australia, and he was talking about carbon credits and managing carbon, uh, negative… Being carbon negative.

And he said, “Right now we source from America, because it's about one-fourth of the carbon of sourcing from Brazil.” He goes, “We need to stay away from these biodiverse environments that actually are hurting our carbon impact more than others.” Sourcing product from America. It's a great place to get it from a carbon standpoint because it's the Midwest is what the Midwest is.

It was designed to raise food. Yeah. So, um, we don't want one of the most carbon efficient I'd call it, or yeah, you kind of get where I'm going there, but we gotta stay away from some of these countries where we're really making a bigger impact than others, especially. As they talk about this, that whole sustainability renaissance.

Yeah. And that's, uh, I think that that's also a part that's often neglected whenever you're talking about, uh, the carbon output of places is, there, is, there is two sides to that. Because if you're sacrificing efficiency, uh, for carbon neutrality, that's, that's not good. Like we, we, we feed the world. I mean, it's like, it just, it just blows my mind to think that, uh, whenever we're talking about carbon efficiency and it's like, “Oh, we need to be more carbon like…” Okay, well invest in that, but don't sacrifice the livelihood of people in the process. It's fine to invest in it. I'm all for it. Go ahead. Invest in it. Make it better. Uh, make it better for the environment, whatever you wanna do, but don't kill people in the process.

Don't make stupid decisions to hit a metric that you think the population's gonna like. 

Yes, yes. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. And it, uh, yeah, that's a, that's a, that's a tricky one because I think that people are so fixated on that. Of course, you're people that are also, whenever you're fixated on that, a lot of times it's because you are where you are, and you see the world through that lens. But if you're talking about people that are actually hungry and, uh, they're people that need food, I can tell you they don't give a crap if it's two degrees hotter in a hundred years. They don't care about that. Yeah. What they want is food tonight. Uh, so it's kind of, it's kind of preaching for It's a balancing act. Yeah, it is. It is. It is. And it's also important to, to note that. People are remarkably good at adapting. Like that is what human beings have done since the beginning of time is they've adapted.

Uh, now we are, we're, we're not very good at preventing bad things. We're just not, but we are very good at adapting to bad things. 

These carbon credits are interesting though. I mean, with it all said and done. It's a nice revenue stream for farmers. Yeah. Because they were already doing a lot of these things and they just kind of fell into a, uh, a way of rightfully making money for all the right things they were doing.

Right. But this, this idea that, that it fixes anything is weird because I think it came under the presumption that, well, if farmers get better, we’ll pay them for it and then we'll allow big corporations or big companies to offset it by buying those improvements. Yeah. But at the end of the day, the farmers really didn't improve.

We just all of a sudden got credit for something we were already doing, and so we, we took an existing thing, didn't change it at all, and just now allowed corporations to buy carbon neutrality. Yeah. From what preexisted, which means no better impact on the environment. Now there's things people are doing, but that in itself, it, it doesn't make a difference.

It just helps compensate farmers for what they're doing, which is awesome. Yeah, I'm, I'm good with that. This whole carbon credit thing, it just doesn't seem to make much sense to me as to how they think it makes, makes that much of an impact. Yeah. I think a lot of the producers that weren't doing something before aren't necessarily the ones trying to figure out the carbon credit market, and so I just don't know if it's really helped anything at all.

Yeah. But we'll see. Yeah. 

Yeah. It's also the, the notion that farmers don't care about the environment. It's probably one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard in my life anyways. Like if you wanna talk about people that actually care about land, it's people that rely on that land. I mean, that's, that's who it is.

Like whenever I think about the, the people that I know that actually contribute the most to environmental preservation. It’s hunters, fishers and farmers, probably three people that are normally are like, “Yeah, they don't care about the environment.”

Yep. No, they don't care about animals. No. Actually, they really care about, they do.

There's a science here. There's a science, like when I was a kid, I'd ride around on a four-wheeler and do soil samples. Yeah. For producers like, like they want to know where is my soil good? Where is it bad? What do I need to do to improve my practices? Cause if they don't, they go outta business. Right? If they don't, their soil gets bad and the next thing you know, the whole farm's worthless. So, they're incentivized to treat the environment really, really well. Yeah. Yeah. And, and they're incentivized in a very real measurable way, whereas a lot of times that's not how, uh, how it works for people that are preaching about the environment. 

And I hate how they get a bad rap sometimes too, because I don't think that, and we, we can talk about what consumers don't know all day long, but I think one really fundamental thing to think about for people who, who haven't run a farm or been on a farm is.

In what other industry are you subject to weather and price inputs and price outputs? Farmers can't control anything. You basically do what you can and then you hope that everything else works out. It is you're, you're hoping and praying that things work out. You have zero control over the weather, the input costs, the output, so it's, it's a heck of a game, but it's stressful.

Yeah, and I don't think that consumers realize how stressful and unpredictable farming actually is, especially when you're doing everything right as a consumer or a, an economist or a scientist, uh, around crop science or animal science would say you should be doing. It's, it's tough. Yeah. Yeah. Not for the faint of heart.

I know. I know. Yeah, I know. And you can even think about things about like disease transmission. You know, for poultry producers, they get hit with AI or avian influenza in this case, not artificial insemination, but they, they can get hit with avian influenza through literally no fault of their own. I mean, it, it's, and it's, uh, it can wipe out their entire farm.

I mean, it's, uh, yeah. It's, it's crazy. You know? You're right. It is, it's a heck of a game. It is one heck of a game. It's not for the faint of heart, that's for sure. 

Do you have any questions that you want to, any, anything else that you want to ask about or talk about? Any other topics? 

Let me think. Well, we hit immigration, we...We hit sustainability, we hit sustainability. It kind of hit a lot. We hit a lot of things here. 

Why is innovation slow in animal agriculture is a good one? Yeah. 

What is your opinion of that? I'd, I'd be curious about your opinion. Why? Why do you think that innovation slow in animal agriculture? Yeah. 

I think innovation and animal agriculture is slow because we are completely missing the foundation that's necessary for it to be successful.

When we look at a lot of technologies that are coming to our industry, most of them work, and yet they are not scaling effectively throughout farms. And the biggest reason is that producers are understanding that when I throw this in and it does its job, there are unknown bottlenecks all over the place of the value of that.

And because of those unknowns, it's unpredictable what that ROI might be if I bring it to a hundred barns. Therefore, it's not a good business decision. It's, it's a guess. And you could say the same thing on, let's say, micronutrients for crops, right? Like that is, that is a heck of a business to try to be in because it, they call it what the fairy does. The foo-foo dust. Um, you throw it on, and you hope it does something. Well, that's because depending on the weather, and, and all how that works out, you're gonna have a completely different effect on, on the, on the value of that input. And so, it's a completely unpredictable ROI that's gonna change season over season.

So, am I really gonna want to use that on all my crops? But animals are no different. If we have a health sensor that tells us, “Hey, this animal is sick.” And it sends it somewhere and someone responds in an hour versus 16 hours, we're inevitably gonna have different results and different outcomes.

And so, the people are such a massive component of what will or will not allow a technology to succeed and what will or will not allow it to be consistent. And our system and our awareness of processes is such a huge component on whether or not we can identify the bottlenecks of the value that we just invested in both time and the resources to get the solution in general and so.

We, we at Swine Tech have been really focused on that to try to find a foundational solution to that. And again, looked at healthcare. When we look at systems there, we've had sensors on people for a long time and call buttons, but if a nurse walks out of a room and sees 15 lights on, how is she, how is she supposed to know what room to go to first?

There could literally be somebody dying in one of the rooms and another one, someone has to go to the bathroom. Both are important, but both are very different. And if we don't understand how quickly we're responding to those high-priority patients, well, how are we supposed to ever know if we're making a difference?

And so, what they did was they put patient management systems in place to help them understand, hey, here's the issues and here's the priority. And when you should be expected to intervene. That way they can hop out of a room and know, well, I gotta go to this room, this room, and this room, and call help for these, because a CNA can help these five people go to the bathroom.

But I'm the only person capable of helping these three people. So, it improves communication, collaboration, and care. But the sensors were there, the technology existed. You just needed a framework to help people use it effectively. Yeah. Yeah. 

That's really interesting. So, from, from your perspective, and I think you're spot on here, one of the things that's preventing pork producers from improving is, not aggregating the data in a way that makes it where they can actually act on it.

We, we haven't invested in the, we call it the slat level to help them, empower them to be better. We, we haven't invested in that. We've done great with genetics, with feed, with antibiotics, and with vaccines and with housing and with ventilation systems, disease control. We've done so many things that are so amazing all across the board, but we haven't done anything since the eighties, nineties, around people.

It's incredibly manual and until we reinforce that component of the business, I don't see us having a strong enough platform and we haven't had a strong enough platform to jump from to adopt some of these technologies. Computer vision, individual animal tracking. And so, we really need to invest in our people to create a, a, a strong foundation for growth.

No, I think you're exactly right. Yeah. And I, I think, uh, a lot of that might come back to the fact it's pretty tough to be a farmer. So, if you're having a, having a good year, yeah. Wanting to invest in something is probably pretty scary. Not knowing what the next year is gonna be like because you have just no control.

It's different too, right? Because it went from lifestyle, career, job, and we still have the lifestyle in the business, but everybody else, that career and job, it's kind of broken up. If I wanna improve genetics, I'm gonna go contact a genetics company and I will buy that improvement. If I want to improve disease control and ventilation, I will call a ventilation control company and filter my barn.

If I want to improve my feed, I will contact local nutritionists or feed companies to help me get there. And if I want a better barn, I'll hire a construction company. You can build me a better barn. When it comes to people management, you can't outsource it. And if you are outsourcing it, it's probably to a company that's managing far many people, far too many people to be really, really good at it.

So, this people component: “pigs are easy, people are hard” is a phrase, often spoken. It's going to take these producers, getting involved and thinking differently if we are going to be successful or if we're going to achieve this next version of our industry, if we're gonna get that next level of growth.

You can't outsource it, you're, they're gonna have to roll up their sleeves and get involved or, or find solutions that are gonna help them be more effective at it. And it's not that they're doing a bad job, it's just, it's all changed. People coming into our industry either have language barriers or no experience, and historically we were able to find people that grew up in the industry, had hands-on experience.

And finding those people is so difficult right now that when you do get somebody with experience, they very quickly get into management. They're very quickly outside of the realm of actually providing the pig care. So, we, we need to do a better job of helping those individuals that are completely fresh to the industry get up to speed more quickly and find more appreciation or take, take more ownership of that, of that career as opposed to that job. Yeah. Yeah. 

No, I think that you're exactly right. That's something that makes what you're doing so cool is, you know, they have, uh, and as this globally competitive industry and our country becomes more and more tight from a labor perspective, they're gonna have to lean on, on innovation, just what you're bringing to the table. So, I think that's great.

Yep. Good deal. All right. Well thank you for, uh, for being with us. I really appreciate it. It was good to get to meet you. Yeah, you as well. 

How can people reach you? How do people reach me so people can reach me on LinkedIn or email? Email’s Feel free to reach out on LinkedIn and connect with me at any time. And then your, your website is, correct? 

Website,, and we have a presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 

Very cool. Awesome. Well, hope people go and check you out. What you're doing is really cool, so we appreciate you being here and getting to know you.

Thank y'all for listening to the Immigration Guy Podcast. We really appreciate it. You can find us on our website. Go to You can find me on LinkedIn and Twitter. Just search at Kyle Farmer FLPC. You can find our law firm on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube. All you could do is search for at Farmer Law PC.

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