The pork industry’s Swine Welfare Assurance Program will be available to all pork producers this summer. SWAP is is voluntary checkoff-funded program that’s geared to provide producers with an objective way to assess welfare at the farm level, regardless of size or type of production facilities, while addressing potential market-access issues.

"We will begin training SWAP instructor teams this spring to start moving the program forward, " says Dale Norton, a producer from Bronson, Mich., and member of the National Pork Board’s Animal Welfare committee. "Our goal with this program is to give the producer a user-friendly and scientific-based process to show that the welfare of our animals is a priority."

The SWAP instructor teams, which will be a cooperative effort of animal scientists and veterinarians at colleges with Extension functions, will be trained late this spring. They will in turn train certified SWAP educators whose role will be to go on farms and work with producers to do welfare assessments as outlined in SWAP. Certified SWAP educators must have a working knowledge of pork production, including a bachelor of science and/or doctor of veterinary medicine and two years documentable field experience or equivalent education/experience. All educators will be required to pass an examination at a certified SWAP educator training session.

"Restaurants, retailers and their associations have shown a clear interest in auditing welfare on the farm," says Norton. "This program is producer designed, producer tested and producer implementable.  It is adaptable to third-party audits, should welfare-based market access become an issue, rather than having people outside pork production dictate the program content."

National Pork Board