News from the National Pork Board
The Pork Checkoff's animal welfare committee and its advisors have finished revisions to the Swine Welfare Assurance ProgramSM (SWAPSM). The revision to the program is part of the committee's ongoing efforts to ensure that the program uses new information that helps pork producers focus on the important issue of animal welfare and how they can impact it in their operations.
The animal welfare committee and its advisors, Ed Pajor of Purdue University, Temple Grandin of Colorado State University, John McGlone of Texas Tech University, Jeff Carroll of the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS), Kellye Pfalzgraf of Tyson, and Tom Burkgren of the AASV, have a goal of providing an animal welfare solution that is workable, affordable, and credible for all segments of the pork chain, including producers.
The major change to SWAPSM is that it now focuses the welfare assessment more closely on the essential animal welfare points to which producers are most likely to be held by their customers. Longer term discussions continue about how SWAPSM can better coordinate with the Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) program.
Certified SWAPSM Educators can contact Sherrie Niekamp, director of animal welfare for the Pork Checkoff, for more information regarding SWAPSM and SWAPSM assessments. Call 515-223-3533 or contact her via e-mail at SNiekamp@pork.org.
PQA Level III revision
The last complete revision of the Pork Quality Assurance Level III was done in 1998. The Pork Checkoff's pork safety committee has directed that another revision be completed as soon as possible. The Pork Checkoff has been working on new language for and organization of the program, and the pork safety committee has begun to review the draft program documents. After that process is completed, the new document will be field-tested by asking AASV members to go through the program with selected clients to test its readability and deliverability. The goal is to have the field-test version available to AASV members and producers in the summer of 2006. Veterinarians interested in field-testing the program and reporting results and insights should contact Dr Liz Wagstrom at LWagstrom@pork.org.
Take Care Swine Practitioner Project
The Pork Checkoff will be reaching out to swine and mixed-species veterinary clinics to participate in a project to measure changes in attitude and behavior regarding antibiotic use among producers who adhere to the Take Care - Use Antibiotics Responsibly principles and guidelines.
The Take Care program was introduced to the US industry in February 2005. Since then, over 42% of the pigs marketed in the country originate from farms that have endorsed the program and agree to its guidelines. The Take Care program allows producers to proactively address concerns by customers and public health agencies regarding antibiotic use in agriculture.
Evidence shows that the program was accepted primarily by producers who were personally introduced to the program through direct contact from the Pork Checkoff or from influencers such as consulting veterinarians.
Participating veterinary clinics will be asked to work individually with a couple of their customers to review Take Care principles and guidelines and incorporate them into the farms' production and animal health practices. The veterinary clinics will have to develop training material for the farms, including antibiotic-use standard operating procedures, and will need to create a system of record-keeping for antibiotic use and rationale for use.
At the conclusion of the project, clinic representatives will be asked to present their materials and their views on the success or failure of the program's implementation, as well as suggestions for training and on-site implementation of Take Care guidelines. The outcome will be used to create documents other veterinarians can use when introducing their farms to the Take Care program.
Participating veterinary clinics will receive an honorarium and reimbursement for all expenses related to the study.
Veterinary clinics interested in being part of this project may contact Dr Liz Wagstrom, assistant vice president of science and technology for the Pork Checkoff, at 515-223-2633 or via e-mail at LWagstrom@pork.org.
Pork Industry Forum
The United States' Pork Industry Forum and annual business meeting will take place at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown in Kansas City, Missouri, on March 2 to 4, 2006. The Pork Checkoff will be celebrating its 20th anniversary at the meeting, whose theme will be "Celebrating 20 Years of Progress." The informational sessions will focus on what has been accomplished for producers through their investment in the Checkoff over the first 20 years.
Some of the significant events of the last 20 years are the success of the promotional campaign "Pork. The Other White Meat," the US becoming a net exporter of pork, and the successful eradication of pseudorabies from the commercial US swine herd.
In 1985, Congress enacted the Pork Promotion Research and Consumer Information Act, making Checkoff payment by pork producers mandatory. The Pork Act, as it is commonly known, also established the structure for the National Pork Board and the body of delegates that sets direction for the industry.
At the annual business meeting, the Pork Act delegate body, representing 44 state associations, also discusses the Checkoff rate and fund redistribution rate to states.
Also at the Pork Industry Forum, the Environmental Steward Award winners receive national recognition by their peers. Environmental Steward Award winners are producers recognized by the Pork Checkoff for their commitment to protecting their environment while managing their operations. The program is in its 11th year and is cosponsored by National Hog Farmer magazine.
Future leaders also make their debut at Pork Forum. The Pork Leadership Academy "graduates" at the meeting. Pork Leadership Academy participants attend media and public-speaking training and participate in at least four meetings and trips over the course of a year. Pork Leadership Academy classes learn about the pork industry and issues it faces and about the Checkoff and its activities. The goal of the program is to create future leaders for our industry.
Producers and other industry stakeholders may attend the Pork Industry Forum. Information can be obtained by calling 515-223-2600 or on the National Pork Board's Web site at www.Pork.org.