The Pork Checkoff last week released the 2012 Pork Industry Progress Report, "Responsible Farming. Our Heritage. Our Future," designed to highlight improvements in the pork industry.
"Principles guide pork producers' actions on a daily basis, and the six We Care ethical principles emphasize what producers have been doing for years," said National Pork Board CEO Chris Novak. "Implementation of programs over the years, including the Pork Quality Assurance Plus, Transport Quality Assurance and Environmental Stewards programs, display pork producers' commitment to providing safe, high-quality products for consumers."
Food Safety. In the past five years, pork producers have invested more than $1.3 million in research to support issues associated with pork safety, the report found. Farmers are partnering with the scientific community and governmental agencies in the development of programs and policies to advance food safety. The PQA Plus and Swine Identification programs are examples of processes developed to advance good production practices and food safety throughout the pork-supply chain.
A formal process for identifying and tracing pigs in interstate commerce and from the farm to the point they enter harvest channels is also in place to protect public health. Farmers and facilities are required to make these records available to animal health officials when necessary.
Farm Worker, Animal Safety. PQA Plus individual certifications reached an all-time high of more than 55,000 in 2012, and PQA Plus site assessments were conducted on more than 16,000 U.S. farms. TQA individual certifications also reached an all-time high of 29,000. These programs are in place to help ensure that farm workers are promoting animal well-being in all their production practices.
Natural Resources.. Data from a 50-year study (1959 to 2009) revealed that productivity gains in pork production went hand in hand with decreases in environmental impacts. Factors affecting pork's footprint at the farm level – feed, water, energy, land and crop nutrient resources – were included in the research model. The results, calculated on a per-pound-of-carcass-weight basis, showed that water use was reduced 41%, land use was reduced 78% and the carbon footprint was reduced 35%.*
Human Resources. The National Pork Board's efforts to deliver human-resource tools to farm owners continued throughout 2012. New technologies and Spanish-language materials helped bring training tools to farm workers throughout the United States. Progress continues on delivering critical worker safety materials and training to farms across the nation in an effort to promote a safe work environment.
To view the complete 2012 Pork Industry Progress Report, visit www.pork.org.