US - At its regularly scheduled November meeting, the National Pork Board's board of directors approved the funding of a national Swine Health Information Centre.
The new, autonomous venture will focus its efforts on implementing industry preparedness for disease challenges that could affect US swine herds.
According to Dr Paul Sundberg, vice president of science and technology at the National Pork Board, a $15 million investment by the Pork Checkoff would fund the center for five years.
The center would be governed by a board consisting of representatives from the National Pork Board, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) and at-large pork producers.
"It is our intention to establish a center that can improve our preparedness for swine diseases with the combined resources of swine veterinarians, producers, researchers, diagnosticians and state and federal animal health officials," Dr Sundberg said.
"We have learned a lot over the past year and a half from our experience with Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus and we want to create a unique, collaborative system that will help us achieve our overall goal of preparing for the next emerging swine disease."
Dr Sundberg says the proposed new center would work toward recognising and filling the resource and knowledge gaps that currently exist in swine disease diagnostics as they relate to emerging diseases.
Also, the new center would work with the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases at Texas A&M University to help facilitate swine health data analysis.
"Although this is a one-time allocation of supplemental funds outside of our regular budget, we realise that this is an investment in the future of the US pork industry," said Dale Norton, National Pork Board president and producer from Bronson.
"In the coming months, we will reach out to producers, gather their input and design a centre that best meets their needs."
Dr Sundberg emphasised that the Swine Health Information Centre would not be specifically responsible for a disease response plan nor would it duplicate current AASV, NPPC or National Pork Board efforts.
The USDA will continue to oversee and manage classical foreign animal diseases, such as Foot-and-Mouth Disease, that already have a preparedness plan in place.
More information on the new center will be announced at the annual National Pork Industry Forum, which will be held 5-7 March, 2015, in San Antonio, Texas.
The National Pork Board has responsibility for Checkoff-funded research, promotion and consumer information projects and for communicating with pork producers and the public.
Through a legislative national Pork Checkoff, pork producers invest $0.40 for each $100 value of hogs sold.
Importers of pork products contribute a like amount, based on a formula. The Pork Checkoff funds national and state programs in advertising, consumer information, retail and food service marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, science and technology, swine health, pork safety and sustainability and environmental management.
For information on Checkoff-funded programs, pork producers can call the Pork Checkoff Service Centre at (800) 456-7675 or check the Internet at www.pork.org.
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