News from the National Pork Board

Pork Checkoff Logo National Pork Board identifies industry’s critical issues for 2007

The National Pork Board has identified the critical issues it will tackle during 2007. Meeting in Des Moines June 6 to 7 as part of World Pork Expo, the board named five specific issues and several operating principles it will use as it continues planning for how it will allocate Pork Checkoff funds for the year beginning January 1, 2007.

The five issues identified by the board are:

  • The way the industry can positively impact the customer‘s and the consumer‘s purchase of pork.
  • The trust and image of the industry and its products.
  • The development of human capital.
  • The profitability and competitive advantage of US pork.
  • The safeguard and expansion of international markets.

Additionally, the 15 members of the board recognized that the evolution of the National Pork Board‘s way of operating now includes a number of operating principles that also will be applied to the development of the 2007 strategic plan. Those are:

  • A focus on partnerships and alliances.
  • The effective transfer of knowledge and technology.
  • The early identification and management of issues.

The next step in the 2007 planning process took place June 28 to 29 in Des Moines, when approximately 50 producers from across the country began to develop strategies and tactics to tackle the critical issues and to address the operating principles. A second session of the producer planning group is scheduled for September. The board will approve the final plan and budget for submission to the US Department of Agriculture at its November meeting, also in Des Moines.

Finally, the board approved the new National Pork Board mission, purpose, and core values statements. The new statements read:

Mission: The National Pork Board harnesses the resources of all producers to capture opportunity, address challenges, and satisfy customers.

Purpose: The National Pork Board contributes to the success of all pork producers by managing issues related to research, education, and product promotion and by establishing US pork as the preferred protein worldwide.

Core values and beliefs: The National Pork Board earns the trust and support of its investors and customers by exceeding the expectations of its stakeholders; providing the scientific research that allows pork production to be measured objectively and that maintains US pork as a safe, high-quality, and high-value product; educating the public about modern pork production; addressing consumer demands for socially responsible pork production; adding measurable value to US pork; and promoting teamwork within the pork industry.

Industry responds to consumer demands, announces new food safety and animal care certification program

Working with the pork industry‘s customers, pork producers have developed a workable, credible, and affordable solution to assure food safety and animal care and at the same time meet the needs of customers, including restaurants, food retailers, and ultimately, consumers. Announcement of the new certification program, the Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus), was made June 9 at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa.

Funded by the Pork Checkoff, the program is the result of more than a year of work by pork producers, packers-processors, restaurants, and food retailers. In March 2005, representatives from all of these segments met to understand the needs and challenges of each segment of the pork chain. The Pork Industry Animal Care Coalition, as the group named itself, dedicated itself to finding a food-industry solution that would give confidence to consumers that US pork is produced in a way that respects animal well-being.

Danita Rodibaugh, president of the National Pork Board and a pork producer from Indiana, said, “The initial discovery meeting made two things clear. First, demand for pork could suffer if customer concerns on animal well-being were not addressed in a credible manner. Second, producer support would only be achieved if the solution were practical and affordable.”

“The coalition agreed also that no solution would ever satisfy animal-agriculture opponents,” Rodibaugh added. “The solution is aimed at answering the concerns of our consumers, not an activist agenda.”

Producers and the industry‘s customers eventually arrived at a solution that incorporates an animal well-being component, mainly the Pork Checkoff‘s Swine Welfare Assurance Program (SWAP), into the Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) certification program. The industry‘s solution is a continuous improvement system focused on producer education and premises assessment. An audit of a representative sample of producers will extend credibility to the program.

The program will be launched on July 1, 2007, and will have a 3-year implementation period.

“Pork producers know that animal well-being is not only the right thing to do but that it makes business sense,” Rodibaugh said. “We are being asked by our customers to prove that we hold ourselves to a high standard of animal care, and we are responding to their concerns in a workable, credible, and affordable manner.”

More information on PQA Plus can be obtained from Erik Risa at

2006 PRRS Symposium

The 2006 International PRRS Symposium will be held at the Annual Conference of Research Workers in Animal Diseases meeting at the Downtown Chicago Marriott on December 1 to 2. The meeting is hosted by the NC-229 PRRS Committee. Researchers, students, swine health specialists, and pork producers interested in PRRS virus research are invited to attend. More information about this international meeting, registration information, and information on how to submit a paper can be found at