News from the National Pork Board

An introduction to the National Pork Board’s new Chief Executive Officer

The National Pork Board’s new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chris Novak, started on October 1, 2008. Novak’s experience includes being executive director of the Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana’s corn organizations. He led the merger of two soybean organizations and helped build partnerships between Indiana’s soybean, corn, and livestock commodity organizations.

“This is like coming home for me,” said Novak, who grew up on a diversified farm near Marion, Iowa, and who worked for the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) early in his career. “I look forward to building on the grassroots tradition of serving both the producers who invest in the Pork Checkoff and those who hold a stake in the success of the US pork industry.”

“Pork producers have a long history of leadership in caring for their animals, nurturing the environment, and meeting the needs of their communities and their customers. The board’s responsible pork initiative is a great example of putting that commitment into action. I am honored to be able to return to this great segment of American agriculture and to be able to help chart its future.”

Novak replaces Steve Murphy, who an-nounced his resignation in January 2008 and who continued to serve as CEO while the board searched for his replacement, and as an advisor through the end of 2008. Murphy became the National Pork Board’s first CEO in October 2002. Prior to that time, the National Pork Board’s Checkoff-funded programs were handled under a contract with NPPC.

Novak has a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University, a law degree from the University of Iowa, and an executive master’s degree in business administration from Purdue University. He began his professional career as a legislative assistant to US Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa and joined NPPC in 1990 as director of public policy. In 1992, he became NPPC’s first director of environmental services. Novak also has been executive director of the Terrene Institute, a nonprofit environmental education organization. He served as an executive of the American Soybean Association, and he was science communication manager for Syngenta, where he directed biotechnology communication activities.

Nutritional Efficiency Consortium update

The Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council has joined the Pork Checkoff’s Nutritional Efficiency Consortium, a group of organizations addressing the increasing cost of producing pork through research. Today, the 26 consortium members include the Pork Checkoff, state pork associations, state and national corn grower associations, the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, and several allied industry organizations.

Since its inception, the Nutritional Efficiency Consortium has funded over $1.3 million ($US) in research. An additional $500,000 was provided in cooperative funding from the Illinois Corn Marketing Board. Research priorities have included a review of alternative feed ingredients for swine rations; the use of co-products, such as distillers dried grains with solubles, in swine rations; the estimation of net energy for feedstuffs; a study into the physiology of nutrient utilization by pigs; and the effects of co-product use on pork quality.

Pending approval of the 2009 budget by the US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service, the consortium will have approximately $400,000 for funding. The Illinois Corn Marketing Board has pledged $500,000 in cooperative funding for the next fiscal year as well.

The consortium’s Web site at has more information about the group’s activities, research priorities, funded research, and fund allocation.

2008 Pork Industry Environmental Stewards to be honored at the Pork Industry Forum

Four pork-production operations were selected to represent the industry as the 2008 recipients of Pork Industry Environmental Steward Awards in September 2008. The Pork Checkoff and its co-sponsor, National Hog Farmer magazine, award this honor yearly to four US pork-producing operations that demonstrate a firm commitment to safeguarding the environment and the communities that surround them. The 2008 award recipients were:

1. Enterprise Nurseries of Madrid, Nebraska, represented by Dr Scott Burroughs;

2. Oetting Farms of Concordia, Missouri, represented by Sharon and Steve Oetting;

3. O’Neel Farms of Friend, Nebraska, represented by Terry and Diane O’Neel; and

4. Veldkamp Farms of Jasper, Minnesota, represented by Jim and JoAnn Veldkamp.

The 2008 Pork Industry Environmental Steward Award winners will be honored at the 2009 Pork Industry Forum in Dallas, Texas, in March 2009.

The Environmental Steward Award winners were selected by judges drawn from pork producers and environmental organizations. The judges reviewed the applications of pork producers committed to minimizing the pork industry’s footprint on the environment. Their operations were evaluated on their manure-management systems, water and soil conservation practices, odor-control strategies, farm aesthetics and neighbor relations, wildlife habitat promotion, innovative ideas used to protect the environment, and an essay on the meaning of environmental stewardship.

Pork Checkoff recommends producers and their employees get the “flu shot”

In what has become an annual communication to the industry, the Pork Checkoff reminded producers, farm personnel, veterinarians, and others who have contact with pigs to get the flu shot in anticipation of the 2008–2009 flu season. The season starts as early as October and can last through May.

This season’s flu shot contains two type A viruses and one type B virus. While the A viruses may spread between people and pigs, the B virus is not of concern to the health of the animals. Humans will develop antibodies that will protect them against infection with the flu virus 2 weeks after taking the flu shot, according to Liz Wagstrom, assistant vice president of the Pork Checkoff’s Science and Technology Department.

Wagstrom recommends other practices to reduce the spread of infection among workers and pigs with human influenza viruses. Among them is modifying sick-leave policies to encourage workers to stay away from the farm if they are suffering from acute respiratory infections. Good building ventilation and good hygiene also will reduce transmission of the flu viruses.

Wagstrom added that to protect pigs and humans from other species’ influenza viruses, producers also should look at bird-proofing their buildings, protecting feed from birds, and enforcing biosecurity practices, such as the use of farm-specific clothing and footwear. She suggested chlorinating the water used on the farm, especially if it is surface or pond water, since migrating fowl and other wildlife may spread different viruses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have more information on this season’s flu vaccine. The CDC’s Web site is

A Pork Checkoff’s fact sheet titled “Influenza: Pigs, People and Public Health” is available online at

Pork Checkoff participates in development of Trichinae Certification Program

In November 2008, the voluntary Trichinae Certification Program for US pork was made effective. The program certifies pork-production sites that follow prescribed good production practices that reduce, eliminate, or avoid the risk of exposure to Trichinella. The program was formalized with an announcement in the Federal Register. This announcement is available online at

The US Department of Agriculture’s program is meant to facilitate access of domestic pork products to foreign markets, and may also increase the sales and marketability of fresh pork products destined for those markets. It targets markets requiring imported pork products to be trichinae free, including the European Union and the Russian Federation.

The program was developed as a cooperative effort with the National Pork Board and the pork-processing industry. Participation in this program is voluntary, and because of the need to control potential trichinae exposure, it will be limited to those producers who house and feed swine in confinement units and who do not utilize waste that contains meat in their feeding regimen.

Qualified accredited veterinarians and qualified veterinary medical officers will be accredited to perform site audits of production facilities enrolled in the voluntary program. Qualified accredited veterinarians are accredited veterinarians who have been granted an accreditation specialization by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), based on completion of an APHIS-approved training program in good production practices in swine management, and will be authorized by APHIS to perform site audits and other specified program services.

Qualified accredited veterinarians will be responsible for the cost of periodic training to perform this activity. At least initially, APHIS’ National Trichinae Coordinator will provide this special training to accredited veterinarians, charging an amount sufficient to recover costs. Qualified accredited veterinarians will need requalification training, but this will not occur more than once every 2 years, and the accredited veterinarians will again be charged a fee to recover costs.

Qualified veterinary medical officers of the state or federal government are trained in good production practices and are authorized by APHIS to perform site audits, spot audits, and other specified program services.

Once a producer is accepted into the certification program, the USDA will award the production site Stage I enrolled status. This stage signifies that a qualified accredited veterinarian or qualified veterinary medical officer has performed a site audit of the facility and found it to adhere to the good production practices in the rule, as well as other recordkeeping and program requirements and that APHIS has received the producer’s completed audit form. A producer awarded Stage I status is acknowledged to be participating in the certification program, but will not be allowed to identify pigs or hogs originating from his or her site as certified products from a certified production site.

Stage II certified status can be obtained upon APHIS approval of a site audit of a Stage I enrolled site; and Stage III certified status is obtained upon APHIS approval of a site audit of a Stage II certified site and maintained upon APHIS approval of subsequent site audits for renewal of Stage III certified status.

Stage II and Stage III sites that have passed subsequent site audits can identify their products as certified products from a certified production site. Without such identification, pork products from the site may not undergo process verification testing at a participating slaughter facility, and a certificate of export identifying the products as being from the Trichinae Certification Program may not be issued. The regulations also dictate requirements for the monitoring and testing of pork products that originate from certified sites at harvest facilities. Only harvest facilities that are under continuous inspection by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), or under state inspection that FSIS has recognized as equivalent to federal inspection, may participate in the program.

Harvest facilities that purchase swine from certified production sites are required to carry out certain functions relating to verification, segregation, testing, and recordkeeping of certified swine under their control. Testing at the slaughter facility entails taking tissue, blood, or meat juice specimens from a sample of the certified swine population processed at the facility in order to determine the Trichinella species infection status of the tested animals and to verify that the trichinae management practices at the production level are adequate.

The USDA has committed to drafting program standards to help producers better understand and participate in the program, as well as an auditor’s handbook.