Swine Research Funding
There is a continuing decline in funds to support swine research to improve productivity and herd health. This will have a long-term negative effect on the swine industry’s productivity and lessen its competitiveness in the international market place.
Many years of swine research have contributed to the control and elimination of diseases, enhanced reproductive output of the U.S. breeding herd and improved genetics that produce leaner pigs that are more efficient in feed conversion. This, along with research on swine nutrition and housing, has made U.S. pork producers the global leaders in producing a safe and wholesome protein at a low cost. The country’s pork producers are very competitive in the international market and currently export approximately 23 percent of U.S. production. In addition, it has helped pork producers continue to make a significant contribution to the U.S. economy. Annually, the U.S. pork industry adds about $34.5 billion to the economy and supports more than 550,000 mostly rural jobs. This success is due in large part to basic and applied research carried out at land grant universities and by federal agencies.
But recently, funds for swine research have decreased as state budgets for universities have been reduced, and there is more competition for federal research dollars. Additionally, much of the swine research is being focused on environmental concerns such as air and water quality and mitigation of greenhouse gases to address climate change. Although this is a very important area of research, it should not be carried out to the detriment of swine production and health research. Resources must also be focused on emerging diseases. Many of these diseases are zoonotic, and public health agencies are increasingly interested in their potential risks to human health.
Given that food production will need to double by 2050 to feed the growing global population, it is imperative that public funding for agricultural production research, technology development and education not be disproportionately reduced. Accelerating reductions in publically funded agricultural research puts the nation’s food security at risk and
contributes to the increasing costs of food. Partnerships between the federal government, universities, producers and allied industry, such as the U.S. Pork Center of Excellence, provide efficiencies in scientific discovery and delivery.