News from the National Pork Board
pork checkoff 25 years of serviceThird-party verification of PQA Plus site assessment begins

Beginning in May, a small percentage of pork producers who have achieved Pork Quality Assurance Plus site-assessment status will be randomly selected to voluntarily participate in the next step in the program – an independent third-party verification of their farm’s compliance with the program’s objectives of maintaining Good Production Practices and continuous improvement.

Of the six organizations that applied to conduct the on-farm visits, a National Pork Board producer-led panel selected two – Validus, a firm based in Urbandale, Iowa, and the Audit, Review and Compliance branch of the US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service. Either one of the vendors will be able to conduct an independent third-party verification of the PQA Plus program on producer operations.

Chris Novak, Pork Checkoff CEO, said, “The PQA Plus program is not a mere symbol of our industry’s commitment to responsible production practices; rather, it must function as a means for actively improving how our industry operates. This will further demonstrate the industry’s commitment to the Good Production Practices along with the Care and Well-Being Principles of the We Care initiative.”

To learn more about third-party verification of the PQA Plus program, go to under the Certification tab or contact Stacy Revels at or 515-223-2795.

New insights into Checkoff euthanasia research

In 2009, the Pork Checkoff funded just over $500,000 in research to identify and validate new and novel methods as well as validate existing recommended methods of euthanasia for swine, especially for suckling and nursery pigs. Recently, the Pork Checkoff hosted the Euthanasia Research Review Workshop via Webinar to highlight the results of this large research initiative. More than 100 veterinarians, producers, and researchers logged on to the Webinar. Registrants were primarily from the United States, but participants from Canada, New Zealand, and Australia also joined the Web meeting.

Five euthanasia experts recently offered an update and answered questions regarding their Checkoff-funded research to a large online crowd hosted by Checkoff’s Director of Animal Welfare, Sherrie Niekamp. Presentations covered electrocution, captive bolt, carbon dioxide, and mixed-gas methods of euthanasia. Niekamp said, “This session showcased how Checkoff research is working to find innovative solutions to this important industry issue. We had good participation and discussion during the session.”

To view an archived version of the Webinar or for more information, contact Sherrie Niekamp at or 515-223-3533.

Group reviews pork-quality research, identifies needs

The Pork Checkoff recently hosted a group of meat scientists from the packing industry, United States Department of Agriculture, and universities to discuss the latest pork-quality research and identify future research needs. Steve Moeller of The Ohio State University and Rhonda Miller of Texas A&M University reviewed their research and led the discussion of Checkoff’s Consumer Preference Study (the full 184-page report is at In addition, Steven Shackelford, Tommy Wheeler, and Andy King, all from the US Meat Animal Research Center, presented their latest research, partially funded by Checkoff, that suggests rate of temperature decline at the packing plant influences tenderness. Research priorities identified by the group included improving pork tenderness and fat quality.

For more information contact Dr Mark Knauer, or 515-223-2606.

25 years of Checkoff research, new e-newsletter available

Since the Pork Checkoff began in 1986, America’s pork producers have funded more than 1300 research projects. This critical research has looked into key areas such as animal science, animal welfare, antibiotics, environment, human nutrition, pork safety, public health, and swine health. This producer-directed research helps ensure the necessary science and facts are available to help make the National Pork Board’s vision of “leading a world-class food industry” a reality.

To learn more about Checkoff-funded research, a new bi-monthly e-newsletter has been launched called Pork Checkoff Research REVIEW. Some of you may have already seen it, but if not, and you would like to subscribe, go to the “Email Updates Sign Up” link at the bottom right of the homepage at

PQA Plus exceeds 75% mark, site assessments surpass 14,000

The Checkoff’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus program has reached a new high of more than 54,000 pork producers certified as of press time. This level of participation means that more than 75% of the nation’s pigs are now raised by producers who have achieved this level of proficiency. Also, more than 14,000 farms have achieved site status – another new high.

For more information, contact Stacy Revels at or 515-223-2795.

Carbon footprint calculator debuts soon

Pork producers and swine practitioners alike will have a new tool at their disposal soon as the Pork Checkoff unveils a carbon footprint “calculator” in coming weeks. Developed with experts at the University of Arkansas, the tool will offer new insights into a farm’s carbon footprint in terms of greenhouse gases. More importantly, it will highlight key areas on a farm where inefficiencies exist that can then be addressed to lower production costs and help improve the environment.

For additional information, contact Allan Stokes at or 515-223-3447.