News from the National Pork Board
National Pork Board continues to support swine-and premises-identification system

Pork Checkoff Logo Despite the February announcement by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) eliminating the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), the National Pork Board’s objectives have not changed. The Checkoff will continue to seek ways to help pork producers and veterinarians to have timely disease surveillance and protection for the US swine herd.

“Premises identification is the cornerstone of animal health and disease surveillance,” said Dr Paul Sundberg, vice president of science and technology at the National Pork Board. “This new direction does not change that fact and the pork industry remains committed to these critical efforts. The pork industry is committed to working collaboratively with USDA and state animal-health officials to provide a sound system. Pork producers have demonstrated their confidence in premises identification through their participation and it is important that we maintain this voluntary cooperation.”

According to USDA data, the US swine industry already has more than 85% of its farms identified through premises identification.

The Checkoff’s Swine Health Committee, and the committee’s Animal ID Working Group, had supported the NAIS and incorporated elements of the program as a requirement in the industry’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus program. The announcement by USDA does not change the Checkoff’s reliance on a voluntary premises identification program as an integral part of our swine-health initiatives. The committee will work closely with USDA and state animal-health officials in maintaining our progress toward improved swine disease surveillance.

For more information, contact Patrick Webb at 515-223-3441 or

National Pork Board seeks to improve NARMS

After recently meeting with the Agricultural Research Service, the Checkoff’s Pork Safety Committee has recommended that staff actively participate with the government agency to improve the animal arm of its National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS). Samples for the chain-wide system come from diagnostic laboratories, farms, USDA-inspected meat plants, and retail meat outlets. However, on-farm sample submissions have been decreasing in recent years, which provided an impetus to initiate this new effort.

Steve Larsen, pork safety director for the National Pork Board, said the goals of input from Checkoff are to improve both participation and the process of on-farm, pre-harvest sampling for pathogen prevalence, antibiotic-resistant profiling, and genotyping. He reiterated that the process will maintain its anonymity policy to protect all participants. “We will be working with veterinarians across the United States in the coming months to develop a sampling scheme designed to benefit the entire pork chain. In the end, the whole industry will get more useful, robust data about pathogen and antibiotic-resistant trends.”

For more information, contact Steve Larsen at 515-223-2754 or

PQA Plus program announces Version 1.2

The PQA Plus program is the cornerstone of the “We Care” initiative, an industry-wide effort to promote and demonstrate producers’ long-term commitment to responsible pork production and continuous improvement in industry practices. So, with that ideal in mind, several key components of PQA Plus have been enhanced and are collectively known as Version 1.2.

Sherrie Niekamp, director of animal welfare for the National Pork Board, said, “We gathered input from industry experts and program participants to help identify ways to strengthen this leading food-safety and animal-care education program. As a result of this process, certain ‘Good Production Practices’ have been expanded, and program materials will be introduced as PQA Plus Version 1.2. However, the site assessment process will not change with this update.”

The new PQA Plus Version 1.2 manual expands education in the following areas:

  • Within Good Production Practice #3, “Use Antibiotics Responsibly,” specific guidelines are being added that address issues for pork producers to consider concerning antibiotic use in pigs. These same guidelines are covered in the “Take Care” program and are being rolled into the PQA Plus content.
  • Within Good Production Practice #9, “Develop, Implement and Document an Animal Caretaker Training Program,” content is being added to assist pork producers in communicating important on-farm procedures when working at a production site and includes techniques for effectively training others and resources for documenting training sessions.
  • Within Good Production Practice #10, “Provide Proper Swine Care to Improve Swine Well-Being,” certain animal-handling practices from a separate, transportation-specific training program, “Transport Quality Assurance,” are being added concerning procedures to use when handling and moving hogs within, and out of, a facility.

PQA Plus trainers and those producers needing to get certification or site status for their farms are urged to contact the National Pork Board immediately. As a reminder, the National Pork Board has adopted a resolution urging all US pork producers to become certified in the Pork Quality Assurance Plus program by June 30, 2010, and to achieve PQA Plus site status by December 31, 2010.

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