National Pork Board news

Checkoff's PRRS Initiative receives boost

The National PRRS Initiative, coordinated through the Pork Checkoff, received a major boost this spring, as the US Department of Agriculture's National Research Initiative committed $4.4 million to research in that area. Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) is considered the most economically significant disease in the pork industry today.

"The funding will be important to support research into the development and uses of a variety of methods to stimulate immunity for protection from the disease," said Eric Neumann, director of swine health information for the Pork Checkoff. "It will be valuable to better understand the persistence of the virus in pigs; and to help develop the tools for producers and veterinarians to use to eliminate the virus from the herd."

The grant has been awarded to the North Central 229 (NC-229) multi-state PRRS project, an 11-state cooperative project specifically focused on PRRS. The National Pork Board has been collaborating with the NC-229 project through the Checkoff's PRRS Initiative. This collaboration is important to the pork industry, Neumann said, as this nationally coordinated effort may lead to accelerated tools and solutions for addressing the devastating production, health, and welfare effects of PRRS virus infections.

"This is a great opportunity to further our initiatives in finding answers to PRRS," said Neumann. "The national coordination can help the industry be more efficient in providing timely information for producers and veterinarians to implement on the farm."

As part of the coordination, the Pork Checkoff has a web site to provide a forum for the PRRS Initiative and NC-229 projects. The PRRS web site will serve as one of the core outreach components of both projects. Within the site will be background information on both projects, on-going and completed PRRS research, PRRS research-funding opportunities, and identification of potential research collaborations. The site has been designed to serve researchers and producers, as it will be populated with information as the projects progress. The site can be accessed through Simply click on "PRRS Initiative" under the "Pork Production" menu.

Checkoff funding targeted research

The National Pork Board has been active in pursuing targeted research projects in the areas of animal science, animal welfare, and antimicrobials. Earlier this year, the Pork Checkoff made three calls. The projects are specific to the following:

  • Sow longevity, regarding decision-making processes for sow culling, identification of breeding animals at risk of sudden death, and the welfare of the sow during the lactation-to-rebreeding interval.
  • Pig transport, in two areas. The first is comparing truck designs and how they affect finisher pig welfare. The second focuses on the welfare of nursery and grower pigs during road transportation.
  • Non-antimicrobial production enhancers. The call requested literature reviews on the areas of carbohydrates, yeast, bacteria, and direct-fed microbials, acidifiers, functional animal proteins, and botanical extracts as production enhancers.

Projects are currently underway. Refer to for more information on these calls and for research results.