hogs huddled together at hog farm Scott Olson_Getty Images News

FFAR, Pork Board collaborate to launch swine health research program

Up to $2 million available through competitive call for applications.

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR), a nonprofit established with bipartisan congressional support in the 2014 farm bill, and the National Pork Board announced March 22 joint support totaling up to $2 million for a competitive research program to improve pig health, productivity and well-being, with the end goal of improving pig survival during all stages of production.

In the U.S., pork producers strive to improve all facets of animal care, including pig health, well-being and productivity, FFAR said. Ultimately, improvements in these three areas will result in marketing more pigs and producing more pork.

This grant program is designed to focus research, education and training in these key areas of pork production.

"As animal caretakers, America's pig farmers strive to give their animals the best opportunity to reach marketable weight," said Dr. Dustin Kendall, a swine nutritionist with Prestage Farms in Clinton, N.C., and chair of the National Pork Board's Animal Science Committee. "Unfortunately, data from the pork checkoff's 'Industry Productivity Analysis' suggests the trends are negative in this area. Focusing checkoff funds in this underserved research area will allow us to find solutions that significantly benefit all of our producer stakeholders."

Up to $2 million is anticipated to be awarded to one scientifically diverse group of researchers willing to pool talent and resources to make a significant, immediate impact on pig survival, FFAR said. Potential research areas may include health, genetics, nutrition, facility design, management, monitoring, economics and welfare.

"The most meaningful agricultural research is designed in partnership with stakeholders," FFAR executive director Dr. Sally Rockey said, adding that FFAR "is pleased to join the National Pork Board to support this important initiative to address swine mortality rates on farms across the United States."

In addition to research, successful applicants are expected to conduct outreach to industry stakeholders and train graduate and veterinary students involved as assistants on the project. Applicants are required to submit a clearly defined outreach plan with specific objectives for disseminating research results to the scientific community as well as to pork producers and their staff.

Potential applicants should contact National Pork Board director of animal science Dr. Chris Hostetler at [email protected]. Applications are due May 15.

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