News from the National Pork Board
Checkoff research delivers predictable return of more than two to one

In 2014, pork producers continued to battle porcine epidemic diarrhea virus and faced other challenges, but as always, the investment they’ve made through the Pork Checkoff into science- and technology-based research continued to deliver dividends.

“Our long-term focus on research, education, and the sharing of information is paying off,” said Dale Norton, National Pork Board president and producer from Bronson, Michigan. “The ongoing investment in Checkoff funds over the year has provided us with solutions that help contribute to a stronger pork industry.”

From a financial perspective, Checkoff funds allocated to research in science and technology don’t simply work alone. They actually draw in outside funding from other sources such as land-grant universities and allied industry. This is shown in a 2014 review of all funded National Pork Board science and technology projects from 2007 to 2011, which found that for every dollar of Checkoff investment, more than two additional dollars are drawn from outside sources to help find solutions to mutual challenges that are facing the pork industry.

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

Checkoff research earns multiple citations

When a Checkoff-funded research report is cited, it builds overall impact of the study. Researchers responding to the survey reported a total of 3762 different places and in 1087 publications where they cited Checkoff research during those 5 years.

Pork Checkoff cited research (2007-2011)

*  Includes magazines, Web sites, fact sheets, white papers, software, books, book chapters, and National Pork Board final reports.

Updates from Checkoff’s science and technology committees

At the National Pork Board’s recent Unified Research Meeting held in Orlando, Florida, each of the committees in the science and technology area gave updates and conducted related business. Here are some selected highlights.

Animal science

The committee invested a substantial amount of time discussing their role in a successful 2015 Strategic Plan by 2020. The committee was asked to evaluate their role in each of the objectives under each of the three goals: build consumer trust, drive sustainable production, and grow consumer demand.

Research update (Sow Lifetime Productivity). A summary of the preliminary report was given on how research is being conducted and collaborated upon. An additional project was discussed, and the committee agreed with the Sow Lifetime Productivity Scientific Working Group that this project should be funded.

Review of research proposals (High Feed Cost Mitigation Research). A total of 20 research proposals were submitted to the High Feed Cost Mitigation RFP. The committee voted to exclude seven proposals from farther consideration on the basis of poor scientific score and producer review.

Animal welfare

The committee received an update on the progress of the Industry Audit Task Force and the newly introduced Common Swine Industry Audit. The committee discussed the future of the third-party verification component of PQA Plus now that the common audit is available. A motion was made to reallocate funds originally budgeted for PQA Plus third-party verification and use them to build a dashboard for aggregating data from the common audit. The motion was seconded and was approved by voice vote.

Checkoff staff presented proposed content for the animal-care chapter of the next PQA Plus version. Committee reviewed the chapter and offered revisions to the content. Staff was instructed to incorporate the edits and recirculate for final approval of the content.

An Iowa State University researcher presented mid-project data from a Checkoff-funded research study focusing on fitness to transport of pigs arriving at consolidation markets.

Producer/Public Health and Workplace Safety Committee

Jim Lummus, Checkoff’s retiring director of producer learning and development, introduced Karen Hoare as his successor.

The Safe Pig Handling training materials, revision of the Employee Safety Tool Kit, and the Workplace Safety Assessment research were completed and distributed.

A half-day session was held on antimicrobial resistance and benchmarking for the industry. Several speakers were invited to provide an overview of their activities and perspectives. Invited speakers and topics included Dennis Treacy, EVP and Chief Sustainability Officer, Smithfield, speaking on “PCAST report on combating antibiotic resistance,” followed by Craig Lewis, Veterinary Medical Officer Center for Veterinary Medicine, FDA, on “FDA antimicrobial resistance strategy,” and finally, Dr Peter Davies, Professor of Swine Health, University of Minnesota.

Environment committee

Allan Stokes, Checkoff’s director of environment, gave an update on the National Pork Board’s Sustainable Pork Framework and associated sustainability efforts, including the Four Pillars of Environmental Sustainability. The committee members then discussed how the National Pork Board can ensure the Sustainable Pork Framework components are implemented and progress in sustainability efforts continues.

Karen Hoare, director of producer learning and development with the National Pork Board, facilitated a committee discussion on including environmental components in National Pork Board educational programs and solicited member input to identify key topics to be trained, identify sources of core materials, and identify persons who might serve on a working group to assist in developing the training materials.

Pork safety, quality, and human nutrition

The committee considered seven human nutrition proposals and funded two. They considered one pork-safety proposal and funded it, while they also considered three pork-quality research proposals, but decided they needed additional input before deciding. In an open discussion, the committee established food-safety baseline studies for the National Pork Board’s strategic plan.

Other business centered on the impact of heavy pigs on pork safety and a study on lymph nodes. In addition, three researchers have submitted a joint quality proposal to consider for funding.

Related to nutrition, the committee discussed human health effects of inclusion of pork in diets, cardiovascular disease, and adult gut health, along with other health topics.

Swine health

The committee provided comments regarding the proposed concept paper on the National List of Reportable Animal Diseases. Comments will go to USDA:

Reviewed an issue brief on feral swine surveillance and developed a committee position statement to be used for comments back to USDA Veterinary Services and USDA Wildlife Services regarding future disease surveillance in feral swine;

Provided comments on the proposed changes in pseudorabies virus/swine brucellosis surveillance. Comments will go to USDA; and 

Discussed the direction that the current swine enteric coronavirus diseases plan should take: continue, discontinue, or adjust the program.

Farmer LogoAmerica’s Pig Farmer of the Year award applications due May 15

The National Pork Board’s new America’s Pig Farmer of the Year award is accepting applications until May 15. The award will honor the US pork producer who best excels at raising pigs using the We Care ethical principles and wants to share with the public how he or she does that. The program builds on many elements behind the successful 20-year run of the now-retired Environmental Stewards Award program.

“The public is the main audience rather than our own industry because that’s who has questions about how we raise pigs,” said Brad Greenway, vice president of the National Pork Board and chairman of the Stewards Task Force, which oversaw creation of the new program. “Producers demonstrate the We Care ethical principles on their farms every day, and the new award is a unique way to share that with the public,” he said.

The intent is to establish the winner as a practical expert in pig handling and pork production, according to Kevin Waetke, vice president of strategic communications for the Pork Checkoff. “Consistent with the National Pork Board’s new strategic plan, we want to build consumer trust through on-farm transparency and accountability,” he said. “The focus is on environmental sustainability, along with animal welfare, production efficiency, the adoption of best practices, and a commitment to continuous improvement.”

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