News from the National Pork Board

Pork Checkoff Logo2007 in review

The science and technology department of the National Pork Board had many successes in the year 2007. A short description of some of these achievements, by program area, follow.

Animal science

Nutritional Efficiency Consortium. The Pork Checkoff and several private, public, and non-profit organizations are funding research that will address producer concerns about cost of feed and determine the value of alternative ingredients in pig rations. Eleven proposals were approved for funding in 2007. Due to contributions from the participating organizations, producers invested only a fraction of the funds used to sponsor the research. In December, the Illinois Corn Growers joined the consortium and have agreed to add approximately $500,000 to the consortium’s budget in 2008.

Consumer preference study for fresh pork. Leveraging the expertise of demand enhancement, the Ohio State University, Texas A&M, and Iowa State University collaborated in this study. It will allow the industry to identify pork characteristics that consumers prefer, such as presentation, color, and marbling. The study will identify consumer marketing opportunities for adding value to pork products by improved targeting. Finally, the study will reveal areas of opportunity for consumer education, such as safe cooking temperatures, the appearance of cooked pork, and more.

Animal welfare

Fact sheet on the use of captive bolt for euthanasia of swine. The fact sheet was published in conjunction with the US Pork Center of Excellence to assist producers in the safe and humane way to use captive bolts for the euthanasia of pigs. The fact sheet is available online at: http://www.pork.org/PorkScience/Documents/CaptiveBolt.pdf.

Producer representation in animal agriculture forums. Staff and members participate in groups and conferences, sharing producer experiences and communicating industry needs to different audiences. Examples of these are producer representation in the Pork Industry Welfare Coalition, the group working to develop an animal welfare solution satisfying all segments of the pork chain, and representation on the Animal Agriculture Alliance, a united voice for the animal-agriculture and food industries to communicate science-based information to a broad-based audience of consumers and media.

Environment

Co-development of the Air Management Practices Assessment Tool. Odor is one of the major image concerns for pork producers in their communities and for the pork industry as a whole. In 2006, producers identified odor as one of the top five critical issues to address that year. One of the efforts was to complete this tool, which helps producers identify practices that can help address odor and air-quality issues on livestock operations. The Air Management Practices Assessment Web-based tool is available online at: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/airquality/practices/homepage.html.

Analysis of pork producer participation in EQIP. An analysis of pork producer participation in the US Department of Agriculture’s Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) in the 20 top pork-producing states was completed. Findings from this analysis will be used to help pork producers improve their opportunities to receive EQIP funds to implement environmental management improvements on their farms.

Pork safety

Cooking-temperature risk assessment study. Preliminary risk assessment study results favor a reduction in cooking temperature of pork from 160F without risk to consumers and with favorable results in taste panels. Results will be used to recommend lowering suggested end-point cooking temperatures for pork, which will increase the consumer eating experience and ultimately, demand for pork products. The exercise included a study on the prevalence of Salmonella in pork at retail. The low levels of pathogens found as a result of the study will be used to support the cooking-temperature risk assessment recommendations.

Japanese maximum residue limit information clearinghouse. Japanese maximum residue limit (MRL) information was made available to producers and other audiences in partnership with the AASV, participating animal health companies, and other industry stakeholders. A delegation of US industry stakeholders, including Pork Checkoff staff, met with Japanese government officials in Japan to obtain the accurate information reflected in all Checkoff published information. The Japanese market is the largest export market for US pork. With other export markets, this one adds up to $23 dollars per head to the price of hogs. Fulfilling MRL requirements will allow US producers to maintain this important market open to this industry’s product. Producers and other members of the pork chain can find updated information on Japanese market requirements and preserve one of the United States’ most important pork customers by accessing the information available online at: http://www.pork.org/Producers/JapanMRL.aspx.

Swine health

Producer input in the development of a swine disease surveillance plan. The Pork Checkoff worked with USDA APHIS’ National Surveillance Unit to develop an effective and efficient swine disease surveillance business plan that will coordinate all swine-related health surveillance activities. Through these efforts, the pork industry became the first commodity to formally prioritize its surveillance objectives.

Development of porcine circovirus associated diseases-related material. The 16-page brochure, A Producer’s Guide to Managing PCVAD, was developed and distributed to producer and veterinarian audiences. Over 10,000 copies of the brochure were distributed in 2006. The brochure lists production and health practices, per production area, that can be put in place on a farm to prevent or control PCVAD. These areas include breeding and gestation, farrowing, nursery, grow-finish, and replacement gilts. Also included is a list of practices proven to have reduced the effect of PCVAD in France. The pamphlet answers producers’ questions on managing PCVAD and is available online at: http://www.pork.org/PorkScience/Documents/PCVADBrochure.pdf.

Continued implementation of the PRRS Initiative. The Pork Checkoff continues to partner and implement the national PRRS initiative. By 2006, 49 research projects focused on vaccination, persistent infection, and virus elimination were funded. In 2007, the PRRS initiative funded 12 projects. Areas of research included PRRS virus immunology, epidemiology and ecology, and PRRS virus diagnostics. This partnership includes providing research results to producers and other audiences through the PRRS Initiative Web site, www.prrs.org.

Partnering with USDA to promote premises registration and to educate. The USDA awarded the Pork Checkoff $400,000 in cooperative agreement to further promote premises registration among pork producers. This cooperation has resulted in materials being developed for producer education and promotion of the species-specific swine identification plan. Combined efforts have allowed the industry to achieve almost 65% premises registration.

With the understanding that observation is a more powerful learning tool than a classroom or book, the USDA, the Pork Checkoff, the AASV, and other partners developed a 3-D video designed to aid producers and veterinarians in recognizing classical swine fever. The video will serve as a model for other learning tools requiring a complete understanding of a scenario that is difficult – and risky – to replicate in the field. Producers and veterinarians can now see and hear what a disease that has not been present in this country for 40 years looks and sounds like without visiting another country and putting their livelihood at stake.