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March 14, 2016

Committee Awards Nearly $225,000 in Grants to Enhance Swine Industry

Final recipients chosen through decade-long Smithfield grants program

DES MOINES, Iowa -- A statewide program to educate pork producers about manure pit safety, and research projects to combat E. coli in piglets and to help diagnose sow lameness, will share nearly $225,000 in the final allocation of a ten-year, $1 million program to advance and enhance swine production in Iowa.

A bipartisan state selection committee awarded the 2015 funds through the Smithfield grant program. The initiative began in 2005 to advance and enhance swine production in Iowa through projects that demonstrate financial need and promote hog production in Iowa in an innovative manner. The annual award program was launched through a landmark 2005 settlement under which Smithfield made substantial financial commitments to Iowa’s pork industry and agreed to provide a contractor growers’ “bill of rights” to Smithfield contract producers.

Attorney General Tom Miller’s office, in collaboration with Smithfield Foods Inc., and two Democratic and two Republican state legislators, evaluated 15 submitted proposals and awarded nearly $225,000.

“We are really pleased to allocate the remaining Smithfield grant funds to a mix of projects that do exactly what we all intended when we created and first launched the grant program,” Miller said. “This year’s grant recipients will conduct research on problems that lead to losses for Iowa hog producers, and a program to promote safety around swine manure storage facilities.”

2015 Grant Recipients
The committee awarded the 2015 funds to the following three recipients, who agree to make the results of the sponsored research publicly available:

  • Dr. John Patience, Iowa State University ($49,696): The study will look at the effects of dietary fiber supplements with or without NSP degrading enzymes on the health and performance of weaned pigs challenged with enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (E. coli). The disease causes economic losses for pig producers.

  • Dr. Anna Johnson, Iowa State University ($123,693): The project will attempt to validate the sow lameness diagnostic manual, to determine whether the lameness diagnostic guide can identify naturally occurring sow lameness. Sow lameness is a major production issue and is the second most important reason for culling.

  • Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) ($50,000): The project will enhance pork producer knowledge and awareness of on-farm safety hazards and standard operating procedures associated with manure storage areas.

“Farmer and farm employee safety are of utmost importance for all in agriculture,” IPPA president Dave Struthers said. “We hope the additional resources and educational outreach made possible by these grant funds can continue to encourage strong safety measures and help prevent future farm injuries in Iowa.”

The committee comprised representatives of the Office of the Attorney General, Smithfield Foods, Sen. Tim Kapucian (R-Keystone), Sen. Steve Sodders (D-State Center), Rep. Chris Hagenow, (R-Windsor Heights) and Rep. Dan Kelley (D-Newton).

Background
On September 16, 2005, Miller and Smithfield Foods, Inc., Murphy Farms, LLC, and Prestage-Stoecker Farms, Inc. announced an agreement through a federal consent decree.

The consent decree included the following provision:

“Smithfield agrees to pay $100,000 per year for 10 years to fund a program for the awarding of annual grants to Iowa citizens or entities that demonstrate both a need for funding and an innovative program to advance swine production in the State. The grants will be awarded to applicants selected by the office of the Attorney General in collaboration with Smithfield and at least two Republican legislators and two Democratic legislators or their designees...”

Previous grant awards

  • 2013

    • Iowa State University – Dr. Nicholas Gabler and Dr. Kent Swartz were awarded $85,960 to do a critical assessment of PRRSV and co-infection on grow-finisher pig mucosal immunity and tissue metabolism.

    • Iowa State University – Dr. Eric Burrough was awarded $92,797 to study the impact of increased dietary insoluble fiber through the feeding of dried distiller’s grains with solubles (DDGS) on the incidence and severity of Brachyspira-associated colitis in pigs.

    • Iowa State University – Dr. Jeffrey Zimmerman was awarded $71,027 to develop statistically valid PRRSV surveillance sampling guidelines (sample size x frequency) based on the use of pen-based oral fluids.

  • 2012

    • Iowa State University – Dr. J. (Hans) van Leeuwen was awarded $87,819 to evaluate fungal biomass as a feed source to assist low performing nursery pigs achieve viable production outcomes.

  • 2011

    • Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine was awarded $50,538 to collaborate with pork producers to determine the probability of detecting a PRRSV-infected pig in a pen of PSSRSV-negative pigs using an oral fluid means of gathering sample material as opposed to a more costly method of collecting blood samples from individual pigs.

    • Iowa State University – Dr. Kenneth Stalder was awarded $49,462 for a project to develop a set of criteria in order to evaluate feet and leg soundness of sows, which is a key component in improving sow longevity, overall lifetime performance, and production efficiency.

  • 2010

    • ISU Department of Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering were awarded $50,000 to perform swine feeding trials with fungi grown thin stillage.

    • Juergens Environmental Control LLC was awarded $50,000 for evaluation of deep-pit swine finishing house ammonia concentration emission as a function of manure surface treatment using a proprietary application product.

  • 2009

    • ISU Animal Welfare Division was awarded $28,700 to establish an Iowa Swine Welfare School to provide a hands-on education and training program for producers and others involved in the swine industry focused on low-stress handling and care of swine.

    • ISU College of Veterinary Medicine PRRS Virus Project was awarded $43,046 to determine if ultraviolet light, an inexpensive off-the-shelf technology, can be a practical and cost-effective method to protect pigs from airborne PRRS virus.

    • Iowa Pork Producers Association was awarded $25,000 (to perform energy audits at several Iowa swine production facilities to analyze energy use and develop specific recommendations for reducing energy costs.

  • 2008

    • Golden Hills Resource Conservation & Development of Oakland, Iowa, was awarded $16,348.20 to demonstrate growth response to a new natural swine nutrition supplement made from an ethanol syrup co-product.

    • The Boone Community School District FFA was awarded $25,824.96 to construct a mobile swine laboratory that will allow the public to view and learn about commercial and sustainable swine farrowing operations.

  • 2007

    • The Drake University Agricultural Law Center was awarded $21,886.50 to identify, research and analyze existing and future legal issues affecting the swine industry in Iowa, culminating in a series of papers and workshops for producers, their attorneys, and other members of the swine industry in Iowa.

    • Iowa State University was awarded $34,261 to develop an economic model that can be used by Iowa swine producers to evaluate the economic viability of utilizing dried distiller’s grain and solubles and other ethanol industry bi-products as feed ingredients in a wide range of feed input price and supply conditions. ($31,610 for 2008 for second part of program.)

    • Practical Farmers of Iowa Inc. in Ames was awarded $19,453 to develop and deliver educational programming to farmers who presently produce niche pork, farmers who produce conventional pork, and farmers who recently exited pork production, with a focus on niche pork production systems that have not been well researched in the past. ($22,909.70 for companion project for 2008.)

    • The Chamber and Development Council of Crawford County was awarded $24,399.50 to conduct a feasibility study to ascertain the viability of a commercial biomass facility that utilizes hog waste and other waste streams to produce methane and high-quality fertilizer for Crawford County farmers.

In addition to the $1 million grant program, Smithfield agreed in the 2005 settlement to pay $1 million to Iowa State University for a ten-year environmental training program, and $240,000 over a four-year period to fund Smithfield-Luter Scholarships at ISU.

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