News from the National Pork Board

Swine Welfare Assurance Program available to pork producers

The Pork Checkoff's Swine Welfare Assurance Program (SWAP) was released to America's pork producers in August. The producer-developed program provides an objective, voluntary assessment that allows producers to evaluate, benchmark, and track welfare on the farm, and provides the opportunity for them to address interests in welfare from consumers, foodservice, and retail customers.

The Swine Welfare Assurance Program addresses all phases of production, divided into two groups: gilts, sows, boars, and neonatal piglets; and nursery and finisher pigs. Nine "Care and Well-Being Principles," which can be applied to any production system, are addressed.

The nine Care and Well-Being Principles in SWAP are as follows:

Herd health and nutrition. This covers six areas of record-keeping, including records that document the veterinarian-client-patient relationship, the herd health program, medication and treatment records, mortality, pigs euthanized, and the herd's nutritional program.

Caretaker training. This focuses on training of all caretakers in husbandry skills. It evaluates the operation's training programs in both euthanasia and handling and husbandry, and also evaluates the career development opportunities taken by the producer and employees.

Animal observation. This helps to verify that other aspects of the welfare program are successfully extended to the animals, including daily observations, animal evaluation, swine behavior, and pig social contact.

Body condition score. This is crucial for evaluating the adequacy of the nutrition program.

Euthanasia. The operation's euthanasia action plan is evaluated, including factors such as timeliness, methods, and use of functional equipment.

Handling and movement. Proper handling, facility considerations, and equipment used to move the animals are evaluated.

Facilities. Facilities are evaluated for ventilation, heating and cooling, physical space per pig, pen maintenance, feeder space, water availability, and availability of a hospital pen.

Emergency support. A working emergency support system and a written action plan provide direction in case of an emergency.

Continuing assessment and education. This helps producers improve their management skills. Producers are encouraged to access the latest Checkoff information about practices related to animal care, husbandry,and welfare.

Qualified veterinarians are encouraged to become Certified SWAP Educators (CSE) to perform the voluntary assessments on the farm. For more information on SWAP and becoming a CSE, click on the SWAP Logo at

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report trichinellosis study

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released the results of surveillancefor trichinellosis in humans for the 5-year period from 1997 and 2001. The study showed that, for the first time, pork is not the top source of human infections. Only eight human cases in the 5-year period were traced to consumption of domesticcommercial pork products. Wild game is now the most common vehicle for human infections with trichinellosis. For the complete report, go to


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Trichinellosis surveillance - United States, 1997-2001. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2003;52(SS-6).

Antimicrobial information

McDonald's issued a policy on antimicrobials earlier this year. It states that all meat suppliers who have facilities dedicated to producing products for the McDonald's system and who control the stages of productionwhere antibiotics are most likely to be used ("direct relationship suppliers")must follow specific "Guiding Principles for Sustainable Use." By the end of 2004, these suppliers must phase out, for the purpose of growth promotion, the use of antibiotics that belong to classes of compounds approved for use in human medicine. McDonald's has made a site available to the general public for comments, at /comments/social/index.html.

The Pork Checkoff is involved with the issue of antimicrobial usage and is providinginformation to pork producers on understandingantimicrobial resistance and alternative production enhancers. The booklet "Judicious Use of Antimicrobials for Pork Producers"1 is available by calling Nancy Newman at 515-223-2621.

Additionally, the World Health Organization has issued their report on the effects of discontinuation of growth-promoting antibiotics in Denmark. The report estimates an increase of just over 1% in the cost of producting pigs, and noted that there was a significant increase in antimicrobial treatments for diarrhea in weaned pigs. The entire report can be viewed at The Pork Checkoff has been active in assessing the effects of a similar policy on US pork producers.

Reference - non refereed

1. Food and Drug Administration and Center of Veterinary Medicine. Judicious Use of Antimicrobials for Pork Producers. 2001. Available at Accessed August 26, 2003.

2. Dept of Communicable Diseases, Prevention and Eradication. Impacts of antimicrobial growth promoter termination in Denmark. 2002. World Health Organization, Global Salm Surv (GSS) Site. Available at Accessed September 24, 2003

West Nile virus study results

The Pork Checkoff recently funded a study to determine if West Nile virus (WNV) posed a risk to swine. Little work has been done on this topic, and prevalence of WNV in pork-producing areas is high. The results of this research project, presented at the 2003 annual meeting of the American VeterinaryMedical Asssociation, gave some direction as to the susceptibility of swine to WNV. This project served two goals: to determine whether pigs develop clinical illness from WNV, and to determine whether pigs develop a high enough viremic titer to infect mosquitoes that feed on them. The study found that pigs are unlikely to serve as amplifying hosts for the virus and that the development of disease would be expected to be rare.

Understanding a comprehensive nutrient management plan

In 1999, the US Department of Agriculture and the US Environmental Protection Agency released a joint publication, "Unified National Strategy for Animal Feeding Operations,"1 which presents a plan for addressing the potential water quality and public health impacts associated with animal feeding operations (AFOs). This strategy recognizes the complementary role to be played by voluntary and regulatory programs. Importantly, it articulates a national performance expectation that all AFOs should develop and implement technically sound, economically feasible, and site-specific comprehensive nutrient management plans (CNMPs) to minimize potential adverse impacts on waterquality and public health, and to accomplishthis within a 10-year implementation period.

What is a CNMP?

A CNMP is a conservation plan unique to animal feeding operations. It is a grouping of conservation practices and management activities which, when implemented as part of a conservation system, will help to ensure that both production and natural resourceprotection goals are achieved. A CNMP incorporates practices to utilize animal manure and organic by-products as beneficial resources, and addresses natural resource concerns dealing with soil erosion and manure and organic by-products and their potential impacts on water quality. A CNMP is developed to assist an AFO owner-operator in meeting all applicable local, tribal, state, and federal water quality goals or regulations. For nutrient-impaired stream segments or water bodies, additional management activities or conservation practices may be required to meet local,tribal, state, or federal water quality goals or regulations.

The conservation practices and management activities planned and implemented as part of a CNMP must meet National Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) technical standards. For those elements included by an owner-operator in a CNMP for which NRCS currently does not maintain technical standards, producers should meet criteria established by land-grant universities, industry, or other technically qualified entities. Within each state, the NRCS State Conservationist has the authority to approve non-NRCS criteria establishedfor use in the planning and implementation of CNMP elements.

What are the elements of a CNMP?

Comprehensive nutrient management plans document the AFO owner-operator's consideration of the six CNMP elements. It is recognized that a specific CNMP may not contain all six elements: however, all six must be considered by the AFO owner-operator during development of the CNMP, and the owner-operator's decisions regarding each must be documented. These elements are manure and waste water handling and storage, land treatment practices, nutrient management, record keeping, feed management, and other utilization activities.

Who can write and certify a CNMP?

To develop a CNMP, the areas of expertise of an engineer, an agronomist, and a planner are needed. Presently, State Conservationists certify CNMPs. Approval of the CNMP should allow the producer to access funds from the 2002 Farm Bill Environmental Quality Incentives Program. These funds may be used to help address the resourceneeds identified by the CNMP for its implementation. To qualify for the funds, the CNMP must be developed by an approved Technical Service Provider.

For more information on CNMP educational materials and Confined Animal Feeding Operations Fact Sheets, go to

For more information on NRCS Technical Service Provider requirements, go to

Reference - non refereed

1. United States Department of Agriculture and United States Environmental Protection Agency. Unified National Strategy for Animal Feeding Operations. 1999. Available at Accessed August 26, 2003.