Creating Research Synergy through Producer Investments

America’s pork producers invest millions of dollars through their Pork Checkoff each year to help find solutions to challenges they face in the 21st century. A good return on this investment is expected – and rightly so. However, what isn’t necessarily realized is the fact that their dollars don’t work alone. In fact, a recent survey of researchers found that for every dollar of checkoff investment, nearly two additional dollars are drawn from outside sources to help find solutions to mutual challenges that are facing the pork industry.

In 2012, the National Pork Board awarded more than $7 million in research grants to fund 88 projects in areas such as swine health, food safety, public health, animal welfare, swine nutrition, swine genetics, environment and human nutrition. This level of investment has been fairly typical in recent years, making the Pork Checkoff one of the largest sources of farmer-supported research in the nation.

“It’s fortunate that we can make this kind of investment in research as producers to help us find solutions to industry issues based on sound science,” says National Pork Board President Conley Nelson of Algona, IA.

“This long-term investment helps attract additional funding from government agencies, third-party organizations and private industry, which producers often don’t know about,” Nelson says. “Yet the outside investments help us move the research needle more quickly.”

To better determine the return on investment in research made by America’s pork producers over a multi-year period, National Pork Board staff reviewed projects funded from 2005 to 2009.

As part of this effort, staff contacted researchers who worked on the projects. Nearly 80% of the 227 who were reached offered feedback on 320 of the 403 total checkoff-funded projects.

The results showed that the $24.5 million invested in research from 2005 to 2009 directly resulted in over $45 million of additional research. This is an increase of 185%  in additional research value that benefitted the industry.

Initial Funding Draws More Research Dollars
Sometimes overlooked in the benefit of checkoff-funded research is its ability to serve as seed money for a research program that then leads to additional funding. Examples include:

• A $750,000 commitment of checkoff funding for the swine genome project that cost over $30 million.
• Combined $6.8 million in checkoff funding for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) projects that helped leverage funds from groups, such as the PRRS Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP), to get more and bigger research projects accomplished more quickly than possible without checkoff funding

Often, it’s likely that checkoff has a funding role in research projects even when it’s not readily apparent. This is especially true when research is applicable, scientifically sound and serves to build the foundation for research that will result in production efficiencies.

Results from checkoff research give vital information to veterinarians, nutritionists, production managers and other specialists that help them provide services to producers every day.

“America’s pork producers invest millions of dollars through their Pork Checkoff each year to help address the challenges that we face every day,” Nelson says.

“The ongoing flow of information and science-based data from checkoff researchers helps meet the demand for practical, on-farm solutions,” Nelson says. “Maximizing producers’ investment is always a top concern. Whether it’s a small tactic or a major investment in checkoff research, projects are selected based on the criteria determined by the Pork Board.”

Visit to review findings from specific checkoff-funded research projects.

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