News from the National Pork Board

Pork Checkoff Logo Pork Checkoff science and technology program priorities for 2006

The science and technology program committees of the Pork Checkoff have finished the review of research proposals scheduled for the year 2006. On February 16-17, the Animal Welfare Committee, Swine Health Committee, Pork Safety Committee, and Environment Committee held meetings to discuss all proposals received from earlier calls for research proposals. The Animal Science Committee met at a later date.

The Animal Welfare Committee put out a call for proposals with a deadline of December 14, 2005. Research priorities for the 2006 call were sow gestation housing, handling and transport, on-farm euthanasia, production practices, and farrowing systems. Thirteen proposals were received, of which four have been reviewed for funding. The projects to be funded include a study of space requirements of weaned pigs during transportation, optimum age for processing neonatal pigs, impact of auto-sort systems on pig welfare, and a comparison of chute designs on performance and welfare of finishing pigs. The total amount to be funded is $204,709.

One of this committee's most important goals for 2006 is revision of the Swine Welfare Assurance Program (SWAP). The committee and its advisors, Ed Pajor (Purdue University), Temple Grandin (Colorado State University), John McGlone (Texas Tech University), Jeff Carroll (United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service), Kellye Pfalzgraf (Tyson), and Tom Burkgren (AASV), have established the goal of providing an animal welfare solution that is workable, affordable, and credible for all segments of the pork chain, including producers. SWAP will focus closely on the essential animal welfare points to which producers are most likely to be held by their customers. The committee is discussing how SWAP and the Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) program can be delivered more efficiently.

The Pork Safety Committee announced a call for 2006 proposals with a deadline of December 14, 2005. The call for proposals was divided into "Pre-harvest reduction of pathogens with potential public health significance" and "Post-harvest reduction of pathogens with potential public health significance."

The committee received nine proposals responding to the pre-harvest pork safety call. The call stated Salmonella as the priority, followed by Toxoplasma, Yersinia, Campylobacter, and other zoonotic pathogens. Three pre-harvest pork safety proposals were approved by the committee for funding, for a total of $117,517.

The post-harvest call included studies to validate the safety of brine-marinade reuse or recycling, needle sanitation, or both; studies to determine if multi-drug resistant pathogenic bacteria are susceptible to post- harvest interventions; identification and validation of sanitation procedures capable of preventing cross-contamination with allergens; and evaluation and validation of process technologies that reduce or eliminate pathogens in fresh and processed pork products, including variety meats and head meat. The committee received eight proposals from this call and approved one for funding, for $39,804. The project focuses on microbiological risk factors in moisture-enhanced fresh pork.

The Pork Safety Committee is working on revisions to the PQA Level III program. The last complete revision of PQA was made in 1998. New language has been developed, and the Pork Safety Committee has begun to review the draft program documents. The new document will be field-tested for readability and deliverability with the help of AASV members. The field-test version will be available to AASV members and producers in the summer of 2006.

The Swine Health Committee met on February 16-17 at the Unified Research Review Meetings in Des Moines and reviewed projects received from a call for swine health research proposals not specific to porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS). Topics included Mycoplasma, influenza, Pasteurella, circovirus, breeding herd syndromes, biosecurity, foreign animal disease, epidemiology, segregated early weaning disease issues, emerging diseases, and enteric disease syndromes. Twenty-eight proposals were received, of which four will be funded. Two of these are related to porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2). The total funded amount in the area of swine health, nonspecific to PRRS, is $192,217.

Following reports of postweaning multi-systemic wasting syndrome (PMWS) associated with PCV2 in the field, the Swine Health Committee issued an extraordinary targeted call for proposals on this syndrome. The deadline for that call was January 25. Four projects were received and funded from this call. The total funded amount for these targeted research projects is $197,304.

Calls for PRRS-specific research will be announced in the spring and fall. Total budgeted funding for PRRS research is $1.9 million.

The Environment Committee issued a call for project proposals with a deadline of December 14, 2005. The call requested cataloguing of known research efforts, public and private, on environmental management practices employed on pork production operations relative to their potential environmental impacts on surface water pollution, groundwater pollution, water use and conservation, odor generation and control, and land quality or crop impacts. Two proposals were received, but only one will be funded. Total funding for this project will be $103,000.

The Animal Science Committee's priorities for 2006 include sow longevity, a pork quality and consumer perception study, and research into host genetic factors resulting in swine resistance (or susceptibility) to PRRS.

The committee has reviewed two proposals received in response to a targeted call requesting a thorough examination of existing net energy systems to accurately predict energy values in conventional corn-soy diets fed to swine in conventional US production systems. The Pork Checkoff and the United Soybean Board will invest $250,000 each toward the funding of one of these projects.

National Animal Identification System update

The Swine ID Implementation Task Force presented producers with an update on the Swine Identification Plan at the 2006 Pork Industry Forum on March 2 in Kansas City, Missouri.

The task force is the official decision-making body for the implementation of swine identification standards under the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). The group is made up of producers, allied industry (including packers and processors), academia, and representatives of the Pork Checkoff and the National Pork Producers Council.

The task force was formed to complement the efforts of the Pork Industry Identification Working Group, a producer-led group that drafted the swine-specific standards for the industry. Their objective is to develop an implementation plan for swine identification standards that fills the requirements of the Agriculture and Plant Health Inspection Service of the US Department of Agriculture, which is to allow 48-hour traceback of animals to their source in a manner that is affordable to the producer.

The panel presentation included task force representatives Gary Machan of Tyson; Joy Philippi, a producer from Nebraska; Jim Niewold, a producer from Illinois; Jon Caspers, a producer from Iowa; Patrick Webb of the National Pork Board; and Bobby Acord, task force coordinator. Steve Meyer, economics advisor to the task force and CEO of Paragon Economics, also formed part of the discussion.

The panel discussed the importance of a swine-specific identification plan from the packer and processor perspective, from the export market perspective, and from the veterinary health-official perspective. Machan, the packer-industry representative, informed producers that maintaining consumer confidence in the pork chain and availability of supply are the main reasons packers and processors support the program. Meyer spoke about exports and how much the loss of export markets could cost our industry. Meyer estimates that a 6-month disruption in exports could cost the US industry $3.6 to $4.7 billion if import of pigs and pork should continue. If imports are discontinued, the loss would be $2.2 to $2.7 billion. His calculations assume that demand would remain the same.

Webb, a specialist in animal health emergency response, showed producers how a workable animal and premises identification system would aid animal health officials to respond in an efficient and targeted manner to animal disease emergencies.

Philippi, Niewold, and Caspers detailed the program for producers in the audience. The NAIS and the Swine Identification Plan consist of three implementation phases: premises identification, animal identification or group-lot identification, and animal tracking. The focus of these producers' presentations was mainly premises identification, which Niewold described as "the foundation of the entire animal ID system." Without premises identification, animals and groups will not receive valid identification, nor will animal tracking to premises be possible.

Group and lot identification differentiates our swine-specific plan from the plans of other commodities. Group and lot identi-fication, an idea drafted by the Pork Industry Identification Working Group and approved by the USDA, mirrors current industry practices. Under this plan, all animals are identified, although not all animals hold a unique identification number. Niewold suggested to producers that they consider starting to identify their animal groups or lots using the operation's premises identification and group formation date.

Caspers and Philippi called on the audience to obtain premises identification numbers for all hog operations, saying that "it takes only one infected animal to devastate the industry."

The task force continues to work on developing educational materials for producers, detailing the requirements of the Swine Identification Plan, including requirements for feeder, grower, and finishing pigs, breeding stock, market sows and boars, and show pigs.

Information on how to obtain premises identification numbers can be obtained from the official NAIS web site at or by contacting the Pork Checkoff Service Center at 800-456-7675.