News from the National Pork Board
Pork Checkoff LogoPork producers reaffirm industry support for producer choice on sow housing
At the 2013 National Pork Industry Forum, pork producers approved a resolution reaffirming the industry’s position that producers should be able to select a sow housing system, including gestation stalls or individual maternity pens, which best promotes employee safety and animal care while ensuring a reliable supply of pork for consumers.

“Pork producers, working with veterinarians, understand what it takes to provide the best care and welfare for their animals,” said Karen Richter, a farmer from Montgomery, Minnesota, and National Pork Board vice president. “The National Pork Board builds its animal and well-being programs on the foundation of what is best for the pig. By adopting this resolution, producers are reaffirming their commitment to choose what type of housing is best for their animals.”

The National Pork Board provides educational programs and materials that focus on how producers can best ensure the well-being of their pigs. The programs offer methods that help producers take an objective look at each animal’s well-being, independent of the size of farm or the specific type of housing.

A survey conducted in 2012 by University of Missouri Extension Economist Ron Plain found that currently 17.3% of sows spend a portion of gestation in open pens. Plain surveyed pork farms with 1000 or more sows and received responses from 70 farms, which combined own about 3.6 million of the nation’s 5.7 million sows.

“Regardless of the system, what really matters is the individual care given to each pig,” Richter said. “And we will continue to rely on science-based standards and our own long history of leadership in animal welfare to ensure that all animals are treated humanely.”

For more information, contact Sherrie Niekamp at or 515-223-3533.

US pork industry: more sustainable than 50 years ago

A new study finds that, while pig farms of the 1950s may be remembered as idyllic, they were not as sustainable as those of today. This becomes clear as the metrics most associated with sustainability are revealed from their 1959 baseline – a 35% decrease in carbon footprint, a 41% reduction in water usage, and a 78% drop in land needed to produce a pound of pork. This Checkoff-funded study is crystalized in a new infographic that the Checkoff communications team is sharing with all audiences via many outlets, including a poster, which is available at no cost on’s Pork Store site.

For more information, contact Mike King at or 515- 223-3532.

Swine health leader, Jim Leafstedt, receives pork Distinguished Service Award

At the 2013 Pork Industry Forum, the National Pork Board presented its Distinguished Service Award to South Dakota farmer Jim Leafstedt for his leadership in improving swine health in the United States, including the role he played during the elimination of swine pseudorabies. Leafstedt, whose farm near Alcester, South Dakota, was an early victim of pseudorabies (PRV), was a member of the pork industry’s PRV Eradication Task Force, and then served on the National PRV Control Board that helped write the state-federal-industry cooperative program standards. Those standards provided the guidance for the eradication program that eventually led to eradication of the disease in 2004.

“Jim Leafstedt has been a quiet and steady leader of the pork industry throughout his career,” said Dr Paul Sundberg, the National Pork Board vice president of science and technology. “The thing that has made him unique is his ability to listen, digest, and analyze and then give a producer’s perspective in plain, simple terms that makes people pause and listen. He recognized that people can make a difference if they have determination and really a very simple vision for the right thing to do. US pork producers have benefited from his willingness to give his time and his talent.”

Sundberg said Leafstedt also earned national respect from his tenure as president of the US Animal Health Association and as a long-time member of what is now the Pork Checkoff’s Swine Health Committee, where he helped to give some structure to the concept of basing surveillance for a disease on the sources of risk to get it.

For more information, contact Paul Sundberg at or 515-223-2764.

Upcoming PORK 101 courses

The American Meat Science Association (AMSA), in cooperation with the National Pork Board, recently announced that PORK 101 courses will be held May 21-23 at Texas A&M University and October 7-9 at Iowa State University. PORK 101 is a 3-day, hands-on experience designed to update participants about the value differences in live hogs, pork carcasses, pork primals, and processed pork products, with meat science faculty and AMSA members at each university conducting the sessions. Attendees will experience the selection, evaluation, and fabrication of pork carcasses firsthand, and as well will learn about the importance of hog handling, grading, and food safety. The course also will give participants the opportunity to prepare and sample products from pork carcasses, including pumped loins, bacon, hams, and sausage. PORK 101 is co-sponsored by the American Association of Meat Processors, the American Meat Institute Foundation, the American Society of Animal Science, the North American Meat Association, and the Southwest Meat Association. Registration for members of these groups, including the AMSA, is $800, with a non-member fee of $950. Companies or organizations sending more than one person to PORK 101 are eligible for a discount. Anyone involved in the production, processing, and marketing of pork will benefit from attending this course, including pork producers, veterinarians, researchers, educators, pork packers, meat processors, retailers, food-service operators, and investors.

For more information, visit or contact Deidrea Mabry at 1-800-517-AMSA, ext 12.

Japan, Mexico offer new opportunities

In 2012, the top five value export markets for US pork included Japan ($1.986 billion), Mexico ($1.126 billion), China/Hong Kong ($886.2 million), Canada ($855.7 million), and South Korea ($421.1 million). US pork exports are building on the momentum of 2012, when 1-year export records were set in key markets, including Mexico, Canada, Central/South America, Australia, and New Zealand.

Some of the most promising opportunities include the following:

•  Free-trade agreements – three new free-trade agreements were implemented in 2012 with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama.

•  New markets in Japan – Japan remains the United States’ leading customer for US pork in terms of value. To strengthen this position, US pork is creating a new niche in Japanese convenience stores.

•  Hams and more in Mexico – the United States exports a significant number of hams and other pork products to Mexico for further processing. With large supermarkets growing in Mexico, a variety of promotions are helping to increase US pork demand in Mexico.

For more information, contact Becca Hendricks at or 515-223-2621.