Federal cuts will end ISU's host role with national pork center

A national public-private partnership for pork research and education no longer will be hosted at Iowa State.

Effective July 1, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will withdraw as the host of the U.S. Pork Center of Excellence, one action the college is taking to address budget cuts forced by the federal sequester. The decision will save the college approximately $100,000 in overhead and administrative costs and salary for a half-time position.

Last week, the center's board of directors met via phone and accepted an offer from the National Pork Board to transfer oversight, management and staffing of the center to the pork board's Des Moines offices. It's uncertain whether the center will maintain three other full-time positions (funded with member fees), but they no longer would be university positions.

The current estimate of the sequester's impact is more than a 7.6 percent reduction in "formula" funds for research – federal funds distributed annually to the nation's land-grant schools. This translates to an annual cut of more than $600,000 from the college's budget. At Iowa State, these funds support research carried out through the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station.

The college has hosted the U.S. Pork Center of Excellence since its establishment in 2005. Housed in the National Swine Research and Information Center, the center has worked to add value to the pork industry by facilitating research, continuing education and publications for U.S. pork producers. Funded primarily through member fees, the center has been a collaborative effort of 25 land-grant universities, 18 state and national pork industry groups and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Iowa State will remain a partner member of the center.