News from the National Pork Board

Pork Checkoff Logo Pork producers establish direction for Checkoff funds

In a process that started in June 2005, pork producers from all types and sizes of operations and from across the United States have helped to establish the direction for Checkoff-funded activities in 2006.

At the 2005 World Pork Expo, the 15 members of the National Pork Board identified nine critical issues that the board intends to tackle in 2006 through producers' investment in the Pork Checkoff. These issues are listed in the box on the right. Then, in July, 27 pork producers on the Pork Checkoff's Plan of Work Task Force met to begin planning how specifically to address those critical issues.

This is the third consecutive year the board and task force members have started the annual planning and budget process from a blank slate. The board members believe starting "from scratch" prevents the inertia created by perpetuating projects and keeps the organization's goals current and relevant.

In subsequent months, the task force met again to further refine the strategic plan and to make a recommendation to the board about how anticipated revenues during 2006 should be allocated.

Program committees comprising pork producers and other industry stakeholders also were involved in the planning process. The committees developed specific tactics and budget recommendations for consideration by the task force and then by the National Pork Board.

The Pork Checkoff's Science and Technology Department has requested approximately $8 million for 2006 activities. Of this funding, 7% is destined for public health issues, including worker safety and other issues concerning the health of pork production workers, veterinarians, or those living near pork production facilities.

Twelve percent of the science and technology budget will be destined for pork safety, including the revision of the Pork Quality Assurance program and preventing physical, chemical, and biological hazards in pork. Special focus will also be placed on verifying the safety of pork at various end-point temperatures and correlating these with consumer eating satisfaction. Competitive research on the epidemiology of Salmonella throughout the chain and the risks associated with Escherichia coli O157:H7 in pork will be included.

Animal-welfare research and activities, including a revision to the Swine Welfare Assurance ProgramSM, is being allocated 15% of the budget. Projects will develop tools aimed at raising producer awareness of the animal-welfare issue. Targeted welfare research will focus on the factors affecting sow productive lifetime and management of the gilt and young sow.

A similar amount will be used to address the odor issue and other environmental programs. Targeted research will focus on identifying dietary sources of odor, processes to recover manure nutrients, and other ways of mitigating environmental impacts of production.

Seventeen percent of the department's budget will be destined for studies and research in animal science, including research into the swine genome, pork quality, and initiating the North American Swine Net Energy System project to evaluate the energy components in swine rations and make recommendations for further research and formulation. A national pork quality study, in conjunction with the Checkoff's Demand Enhancement Consumer Research Team, will determine what characteristics of pork influence consumers' eating satisfaction.

Finally, 31% of the science and technology budget has been put aside to perform research and programs in swine health. These programs include the development of complementary communications and educational material with the US Department of Agriculture on disease surveillance, disease prevention, feral swine discovery, and control of and response to foreign animal disease. The funding will continue to support the PRRS Initiative and foster closer integration with the US Department of Agriculture's PRRS-Coordinated Agricultural Project.

More information on the direction of the Pork Checkoff's science and technology efforts in 2006 can be obtained from Dr Paul Sundberg, vice president of science and technology for the Pork Checkoff, at

Nine critical issues for 2006

1. To move the needle on domestic demand for pork

Pork Checkoff funds will be used to promote pork consumption domestically. The issue aims to shift attitudes toward pork by getting consumers to think of pork as a main ingredient and a top-of-mind choice for consumers in stores and restaurants. This includes bolstering consumer confidence in the safety and eating quality of pork.

2. Early identification and management of issues

The National Pork Board has taken an issue-management approach to many of its activities in the past 5 years. Issue management includes recognizing potential situations before they become issues that affect the way the industry produces pork.

3. Transfer and deployment of knowledge and technology

A large amount of knowledge and information is created using Checkoff funds. With this critical issue, the National Pork Board will establish itself as a reliable source of consumer and marketing information, and producers will recognize the organization as a valuable resource for information and educational material.

4. Creation of partnerships and alliances inside and outside of the chain

To leverage Checkoff funds and satisfy common goals, the National Pork Board will foster relationships with other trade and commodity groups, regulatory agencies, and allied industry.

5. The image of the industry

The Pork Checkoff will fund projects aimed at helping communities understand the economic value pork production brings to their area. Producers will be recognized by the public for their sustainable practices, safe product, and attention to public health. An image campaign, including work with children, will be a weapon of attack against biased and incorrect information used by activists.

6. Resolution of the swine-welfare issue with customers

The Pork Checkoff will continue its efforts to understand customer concerns on animal welfare and develop tools producers can use to address these concerns.

7. Development of a long-range strategy for US pork exports

To maintain and foster international demand for US pork, the National Pork Board will promote the safety and quality of American pork and help in the development of an early detection and response plan for diseases that affect swine and may disrupt trade.

8. Development of the industry's future leadership

Through youth leadership and recruiting programs, the National Pork Board will encourage people to make careers in the swine industry and participate in programs that promote the value and demand for pork.

9. Answers to the odor issue

Research results and knowledge to mitigate odor and use manure will be disseminated to producers. Funds will be used to find the factors that create odor and ways to abate it.