US pork sector to focus on continuous air quality improvement

The program dedicates $1 million in grant funding
calendar icon 21 April 2022
clock icon 2 minute read

Farmers have always been committed to protecting natural resources, including water, soil and air for the present and future generations. In an effort to measure and continuously improve air quality in and surrounding swine production facilities, the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR), in partnership with the National Pork Board (NPB), is launching the Improving Swine Production Air Quality Program. This program dedicates $1 million in grant funding to develop objective measures for key air quality components and concentrations in and within 500 meters of swine production facilities.

Using objective methods and metrics assessing air quality is critical for understanding the source of swine production particulates and developing continuous improvement efforts. However, existing air quality measurements are subject to bias, preventing the development of effective strategies to improve air quality.

“We want to better understand particulates and air quality. We first must accurately and objectively understand the levels of exposure to these particulates by workers and surrounding communities," said Lucyna Kurtyka, senior scientific program director Health-Agriculture Nexus. "Only after we have this information, can we begin developing effective interventions."

Swine production air quality studies reveal that researchers unintentionally introduce bias in a variety of ways, clouding efforts to understand the challenges and opportunities. This research program aims to develop a scientifically valid assessment of particulate levels inside and immediately outside of swine facilities. The first phase of this potentially multi-phase program focuses on developing accurate and objective measurements. Eligible projects must include collecting new data for risk assessments; FFAR will not consider projects based upon existing data due to potential bias in the studies.

“Pig farmers have always been committed to doing what’s right for people, pigs and the planet,” said Dr. Heather Fowler, Director, Producer and Public Health, National Pork Board. “Recently, we released the US Pork Industry Sustainability Report to document pork’s ongoing continuous improvement efforts. Projects such as this will allow us to continue to measure where we are today and look for areas of continuous improvement in the future.”

“Pig farmers have always been committed to doing what’s right for people, pigs and the planet. ... Projects such as this will allow us to continue to measure where we are today and look for areas of continuous improvement in the future,” Heather Fowler, director, producer and public health, National Pork Board.

With an accurate and objective air quality measurement in hand, and contingent on available funding, future phases of this program may assess particulate exposure among swine production facility workers and those living nearby to understand impacts to workers, animals, and local communities.

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