News from the National Pork Board

Pork Checkoff LogoAnimal Welfare Committee reviews Swine Welfare Assurance ProgramSM

The Pork Checkoff's Animal Welfare Committee has begun to review the content of the Swine Welfare Assurance ProgramSM (SWAPSM), which was introduced in August 2003. The objective of the review is to gather information about the program's content and implementation so that it can be revised and updated as needed. This is part of the Pork Checkoff's commitment to the continued refinement of SWAPSM as a tool for providing customers with a credible, science-based assurance that US pork producers are addressing the welfare needs of their animals.

Animal Science Committee

The Pork Checkoff's Animal Science Committee, created by the National Pork Board in March 2004, held its first meeting in May. The group set its priorities, with meat quality at the top. The committee reviewed the status of the swine genome project and a variety of programs that relate to animal science.

Pork Checkoff shared information at World Pork Expo

The Pork Checkoff shared information on pork production during World Pork Expo, which was June 10 to 12, 2004, in Des Moines, Iowa.

"Today's Pork Checkoff is at work for pork producers to promote pork, increase demand, expand markets, and provide on-farm information," said Craig Christensen, a pork producer from Ogden, Iowa. "US pork producers continue to set records and produce high-quality pork for both the domestic and export markets."

The Pork Checkoff offers science-based research to help pork producers provide quality pork. Dr Paul Sundberg, Vice President of Science and Technology at the National Pork Board, said that pork quality is key.

"The Checkoff invests in research," Sundberg said. "Research priorities set by pork producers for 2004 are environment, swine health, animal welfare, and pork safety."

In 2003, Checkoff-funded research led to the launch of the Swine Welfare Assurance ProgramSM, which allows producers to demonstrate the care and welfare of their animals. This year, the Pork Quality AssuranceTM program celebrates 15 years of helping pork producers contribute to a healthy and safe food supply.

"Market access is a swine health issue," Sundberg said. "The Pork Checkoff is at work in many programs that help build consumer confidence in the quality of the pork we provide. These include pork safety, animal welfare, and animal identification."

Overview of requests for proposals

To fulfill its research mission, the Pork Checkoff has issued several requests for proposals (RFPs) during 2004. These include several calls related to porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), transportation, animal welfare, and human nutrition.

The Pork Checkoff issued three separate calls for PRRS research, each with its own deadline. These competitive RFPs for PRRS focused on three outcomes:

  • New vaccines or strategies
  • Management of persistent infections
  • PRRS elimination programs

Since the March 19 deadline for the first category, nine projects were awarded a total of $600,000. The deadline for the second category was June 14, and for the third category, the deadline is September 3.

The Pork Checkoff sought proposals related to transportation of feeder or market hogs and transportation of nursery pigs. The committee decided to fund one proposal in each area at a cost of nearly $144,000, which was within the budget of $150,000 for the projects.

The Pork Checkoff reviewed research proposals regarding human nutrition from three universities. The proposals are titled "Sensible consumption of pork meat improves diets of US adults" (USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University); "Dietary pork, appetite and weight loss in humans" (Purdue University); and "High-quality pork protein improves weight loss, body composition and satiety" (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).

Distance learning programs

Through the Pork Checkoff, a series of distance learning courses have been designed to allow producers easy access to the latest production information. The Checkoff offers programs via CD-ROM or Internet on farrowing management, grower-finisher management, effective handling of pigs, on-farm euthanasia of swine, breeding management, segregated early weaning, and Pork Quality AssuranceTM. To order any of the Pork Checkoff distance learning courses, contact the Pork Checkoff Service Center at 1-800-456-PORK or go online at to download the courses.

Status of Pork Checkoff

The US Supreme Court has granted a writ of certiorari for the constitution challenge to the beef checkoff. The case is scheduled to be heard during the 2004-2005 court term. According to the USDA, the Pork Checkoff case is being "held," which means that the pork stay will continue until a final decision is reached on the beef case. In effect, the pork case's final disposition will be directly dependent on the beef outcome.

New meat cut publication

The Pork Checkoff worked with other commodity organizations to update and reprint The Guide to Identifying Meat Cuts. These are being printed now and should be available soon. Prices will be $10 for US orders and $40 for international orders (all prices in $US). To order, contact the Pork Checkoff ordering department at 515-223-2621.