The National Pork Board’s Swine Welfare Program received top priority at the organization’s Annual Meeting last week in Orlando, Fla. Delegates passed a resolution encouraging all U.S. pork producers to participate in the voluntary, educational assessment. They also passed around sign up sheets to meeting’s attendees to get the movement rolling.

The point is to illustrate to the public and customers at all levels of the pork chain the producer’s and the industry’s commitment to the care and well-being of swine, notes Wayne Peugh, a pork producers and Pork Board member. “We’d like to get 100 percent of our industry on board to make SWAP the industry standard.”

SWAP is an on-farm assessment program where trained personnel come on to a producer’s production site and assess the animal care and handling procedures. A confidential consolation and education process follows as needed. All information remains with the producer.

“It’s an educational opportunity for your farm,” says Hugh Dorminy, a pork producer and former NPB president. “Animal welfare is a fundamental part of our industry. The SWAP program is a chance to demonstrate that to our customers.” Other producers echoed that sentiment.

Don Bulter, director of government and public relations for Murphy-Brown, announced the company’s support and endorsement of SWAP. Murphy-Brown operations control 800,000 sows.

“We’re encouraging all pork producers to participate in SWAP,” says Bulter. Murphy-Brown has had its own Animal Welfare Management System in place since 2002, “which encompasses SWAP principles, plus others specific to our system,” he notes. Bulter chairs the company’s animal welfare committee.

Murphy-Brown joins Cargill, Premium Standard Farms, Farmland, Tyson and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians in supporting SWAP.

Among the other topics addressed during the NPB delegate session was an endorsement to advance research involving pig genome sequencing. NPB’s education committee is charged with developing a strategic plan to educate youth and adults about modern pork production techniques. 

Delegates also nominated eight producers to fill five sets on the National Pork Board. The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture will select the individuals to fill the three-year terms. The nominees include: Deborah Johnson, N.C.; Brian Zimmerman, Neb.; Wayne Peugh, Ill.; Lynn Harrison, Wis.; Carol Kiehl Hein, Mo.; Betty Baker, Okla.; Randy Brown, Ohio; Dale Springer, Kan.

It’s worth noting that the Pork Board is responsible for the collection and distribution of the national pork checkoff, and that NPB is responsible for research, education and promotion programs for the pork industry.