Pork Checkoff LogoNews from the National Pork Board
PQA Plus update

By now, most producers and veterinarians have heard that the National Pork Board is advocating for producers to become certified in the Pork Quality Assurance Plus program by June 30, 2010, and to achieve PQA Plus site status by December 31, 2010. Additionally, producers should comply with the ethical principles the industry adopted in 2008.

As of mid-October, the following numbers tell the story:

  • PQA Plus Certifications: 37,568
  • PQA Plus Site Status: 6018
  • PQA Plus Advisors: 1085

“This level of PQA Plus participation continues at a rate not seen by programs previously offered by the Pork Checkoff,” said Erik Risa, Education Program Manager at the National Pork Board. “In 2009, we’ve seen a good pace of producer certifications, with about 1750 per month. Of course, we hope to increase that number, as well as site-status recognition, moving into 2010.”

International symposium on food safety highlights US commitment

The 8th International Symposium on the Epidemiology and Control of Foodborne Pathogens in Pork was recently held in Quebec City, Canada, and Pork Checkoff-funded research was on full display. The gathering brought together leading international scientists and specialists from various pork-related scientific fields to present and discuss the most recent science, policies, and strategies regarding pork safety. Most of the presentations related to Salmonella, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and other food-related pathogens of concern.

Steve Larsen, Director of Pork Safety for the Pork Checkoff, who attended the meeting, reported that more than 90% of the US research presented was in some way linked to Checkoff. “This shows how US producers are committed to a long-term investment in food safety by funding researchers around the world. Also, it’s a clear indicator to other countries that US producers are determined to be leaders in international food-safety research and investment.”

USDA announces National Pork board appointments

The US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced five appointments to the 15-member board of the National Pork Board. The five were chosen from among eight pork producers nominated by the National Pork Producers Delegate Body during its meeting in Dallas, Texas, last March.

The newly appointed board members are Bradley S. Greenway, Mitchell, South Dakota; Dale N. Norton, Bronson, Michigan; and Lisa D. Colby, Newbury, Massachusetts. The reappointed board members are Eugene C. Nemechek, Springdale, Arkansas, and W. Randall Brown, Nevada, Ohio.

Established under the Pork Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act of 1985, the board develops budgets and awards contracts to carry out a coordinated program designed to strengthen the position of pork in the marketplace. The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service oversees the operation of the board.

New factsheet offers “green” insights

A brand new factsheet from Pork Checkoff, “A Carbon Footprint Update,” injects some scientific data and perspective into the oft heated and misunderstood debate over greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The two-page piece provides key facts that show just how small pork’s carbon footprint really is as part of overall GHG emissions – at only 0.33% in the United States. This fact, along with others, is put into perspective when you learn that human waste systems are the source of 2.65% of GHG emissions.

In addition, the factsheet provides an update on the Checkoff-funded research at the University of Arkansas’ Applied Sustainability Center, which is measuring and identifying the overall carbon footprint involved with pork production. This work, to be completed in 2010, will provide a firm basis on which to launch new studies on how the industry can continue to keep its environmental impact low in an economically sustainable way.

This new factsheet is a must-read for anyone in the pork industry and those who are curious about how pork production fits into today’s socially and environmentally conscious food production system. It provides producers with some specific facts to share with their on- and off-farm friends, family, and neighbors on why today’s pork is an eco-friendly choice.

The factsheet is now available online at pork.org, or for printed copies, through the Pork Store at www.porkstore.pork.org.

New message points dispel myths on H1N1 origin, impact of modern agriculture

Although there’s no scientific certainty about the exact origin of novel 2009 H1N1 virus, some in the media have erroneously claimed that it emanated in North Carolina in the 1990s. Still others contend that modern production practices help foster the development of novel viruses. Dr Liz Wagstrom at the Pork Checkoff offers these fact-based messages to refute these allegations.

The claim made by some that the novel 2009 H1N1 virus originally came from swine farms in North Carolina starting back in the 1990s is erroneous. Researchers at that time did find an H3N2 flu virus in pigs there, but it was not the current H1N1 pandemic virus circulating around the world. That virus had a different genetic architecture, because it had components from only two species, (people and pigs), not three like novel H1N1. In addition, that virus was found to have died out years ago.

Assertions that modern swine facilities are most likely to blame for viruses reassorting and changing into novel ones are not correct. This biological process can occur in humans, birds, or animals. Modern swine facilities actually help protect pigs from coming into contact with other species, such as birds, that may carry the genetic component needed to create a novel virus. Pigs in these facilities also are protected from many environmental stresses and disease-carrying vectors, thereby limiting the genetic ability of viruses to alter themselves into novel forms.