News from the National Pork Board

Pork Checkoff Logo Student session at the Allen D. Leman conference

For the second year, the National Pork Board is sponsoring an exciting opportunity for students with an interest in swine-production medicine attending the Leman Conference. The conference is taking place in St Paul, Minnesota, on September 19-22, 2009. The National Pork Board is looking for up to 20 students to attend the preconference workshop that will focus on discussing the social issues facing the pork industry and food-animal medicine today.

Some of the topics that will be discussed include animal welfare issues, including individual housing of sows, animal transportation, and piglet processing; zoonotic agents, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus; public-health issues surrounding pork production, such as antibiotic resistance and issues concerning respiratory health and endocrine disruptors; and food-safety issues. Attendees also will receive spokesperson-media training designed to make the students comfortable with public speaking, one-on-one discussion of issues, and even reporter-led interviews.

The goal of the program is to help students gain understanding of issues and receive the training to speak with classmates, professors, students, or the public about the practices in and misconceptions commonly held about pork production.

Interested students who apply and are selected will be invited to attend the session with expenses paid by the National Pork Board. Students will have the opportunity to network with other veterinary-college students and practitioners attending the conference and create long-lasting relationships and business opportunities. In 2008, 17 students from several universities attended the session and provided great reviews.

Student members of the AASV and faculty advisors of student AASV chapters will be contacted personally to recruit participants in the near future. For more information on this program, contact Liz Wagstrom at or Lisa Becton at

Pork Checkoff unified research meeting

The Pork Checkoff’s annual unified research review meeting took place in Raleigh, North Carolina, February 15-16. Over 100 Pork Checkoff members of the Animal Science, Animal Welfare, Swine Health, Pork Safety, Environment, and Human Nutrition Committees participated in the meeting.

The Animal Science Committee will review 31 projects on nutritional efficiency. The research priorities are biological and genetic efficiency of nutrient utilization and co-product evaluation and utilization. Funding available for this research is $500,000.

The committee also will review 14 projects on sow lifetime productivity. Available funding for this area of research is $250,000. Research priorities are gilt development, young-sow management, and the effects of sow housing systems on lifetime productivity.

The Animal Welfare Committee set its research priorities for 2009 to include on-farm humane euthanasia, gestating-sow housing, transportation and handling, and production practices such as litter processing and weaning and their effect on animal well-being. The committee received 17 proposals and has $195,000 available to fund selected projects.

The Swine Health Committee will review 32 submitted research proposals covering all areas of swine health except porcine circovirus associated diseases and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome. There is $250,000 available for funding research in the area of swine health.

The Pork Safety Committee will evaluate research proposals related to pork safety pre-harvest and post harvest. Seventeen pre-harvest proposals and 10 post-harvest proposals were received by the committee. Salmonella is the top research priority in both areas of pork safety. A total of $250,000 is available for funding research in these two areas of pork safety.

The Environment Committee will review 23 research project proposals on priority areas, including water quality, water conservation, energy conservation, manure utilization, use of alternative mortality disposal practices, and use of biofuel co-products as fertilizer. The committee will be allocating up to $350,000 for research in this area. Other projects of the environment committee include funding a carbon-footprint assessment initiative for the industry.

The Human Nutrition Committee has seven proposals to review during the meeting and $200,000 to be allocated for research funding. Priorities of research include examining the benefits of high-quality animal protein in healthy diets or for weight control, analysis of national consumption databases to determine actual pork consumption by various demographic groups in the United States, analysis of existing epidemiological studies to examine associations between processed or fresh pork consumption and cancer, and research exploring novel health benefits of pork’s nutrient composition.

Participants at the meeting were also training for PQA Plus certification.