At its regularly scheduled November meeting, the National Pork Board's (NPB) board of directors approved the funding of a national Swine Health Information Center. The new, autonomous venture will focus its efforts on implementing industry preparedness for disease challenges that could affect U.S. swine herds.
According to Paul Sundberg, vice president of science and technology at the NPB, 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 NP, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) and at-large pork producers.
"It's 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," Sundberg says. "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."
Sundberg says the proposed new center would work toward recognizing 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 realize that this is an investment in the future of the U.S. pork industry," says Dale Norton, NPB president and producer from Bronson, MI. "In the coming months, we will reach out to producers, gather their input and design a center that best meets their needs."
Sundberg emphasizes that the Swine Health Information Center would not be specifically responsible for a disease response plan nor would it duplicate current AASV, NPPC or NPB efforts. The U.S. Department of Agriculture 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 March 5-7, 2015, in San Antonio, TX.