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Pork Producers Maintain Current Checkoff Rate

by 5m Editor
10 March 2003, at 12:00am

US - Pork Act Delegates agreed to keep the Pork Checkoff rate at the current level of 40 cents per $100 of value, following hours of discussion during the Pork Act Delegate session March 8 at the 2003 National Pork Industry Forum in Dallas, Texas.

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“The unity and optimism of pork producers about the future of the Pork Checkoff was clear today,“ said National Pork Board President Hugh Dorminy, a pork producer from Russellville, Ark. “The future of the Checkoff isn’t about individual pork producers at Forum. It’s about all producers working together to deal with the issues affecting all of us.“

The decision to keep the Checkoff rate at 40 cents was part of a resolution, which included an amendment to create a task force. The amendment read: “The Pork Act Delegate Body directs the National Pork Board to recommend the establishment of a task force to study the creation of a single industry organization. The task force will be formed jointly by the National Pork Producers Council and the National Pork Board. The task force will bring its final recommendations to the 2004 Pork Forum for consideration.“

Pork producers invest in the Pork Checkoff and, through individual suggestions, formal resolutions or as members of Pork Checkoff committees, they can guide how their investment is used in research, promotion and consumer information. For 2003, Checkoff collections based on the Checkoff rate of 40 cents per $100 of value and approximately $11 billion in farm sales, are estimated at $44 million. Of that, about $35 million is targeted for national programs and $9 million for state programs.

At the national level, promotions in 2003 will feature ham, barbecue and Hispanic marketing. Consumer information is planned to highlight these areas, as well as to continue to spread the news that pork is part of a healthy diet. Historically, these consumer information efforts of the Checkoff’s Pork Information Bureau have resulted in a return of $30 for every Pork Checkoff dollar invested. Other efforts to increase demand for pork include retail and foodservice marketing, consumer advertising, niche market development and foreign market development.

The Pork Checkoff is at work to find science-based answers to questions that can affect pork producers and the demand for pork . Examples include proposals to limit the use of penicillin because of its use in humans as well as livestock, or proposals for animal care that would result in limiting markets for pork producers who use common production techniques, such as castration, ear notching and tail docking. As a science-based alternative to animal care guidelines being suggested by some food companies, the Checkoff has developed the Swine Welfare Assurance ProgramSM (SWAPSM) to provide a way for pork producers to measure their on-farm production practices in case that becomes necessary for them to market their hogs. The Pork Checkoff also is at work in surveillance of animal diseases, to limit the threat of emerging animal diseases, which include foreign animal diseases and new diseases.

The Checkoff’s education program is focused on taking this research information to producers so they can apply it to their farms. Some of this is through the certification programs Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) and Trucker Quality Assurance (TQA). The Checkoff launched the PQA program in 1989 and it continues to provide pork producers with updated information. More than 70,000 pork producers hold PQA certification. The TQA program started in February 2002. Within a year, more than 5,600 truckers became TQA certified. In addition to time-tested educational seminars and national programs including P.O.R.K. Academy, the Checkoff’s education program is using technology to develop Internet-based interactive information, which also will be available on compact disks.

Based on producer recommendations, the 2003 budget includes more funding for communications and producer outreach. The communications plan for 2003, designed to make sure producers have information about their Checkoff investments, includes increased use of direct mail, advertising in community newspapers, trade magazines and radio. It also continues its sponsorship of RFD-TV, and the long-standing producer communications tools, such as the quarterly Pork Checkoff Report magazine.

In the 60 days prior to Forum, the Producer and State Relations Department met with hundreds of pork producers at 38 functions in 31 states, making face-to-face contact with 7,250 pork producers. The outreach efforts include the Producer Service Center. Pork producers can call the Producer Service Center at 800-456-PORK. The Producer Service Center also calls pork producers for specific projects, many of which are coordinated with states. During February, the Producer Service Center averaged 60 phone calls per day, which is nearly double the average during the first six months of operation. The call center was launched in July 2002.

The national Pork Checkoff budget for 2003 includes funds held in reserve, for total spending projection of $42.7 million. The budget is about 11 percent lower than in 2002 and many previously funded programs are not included in the plans for 2003.

National Pork Board has responsibility for Checkoff-funded research, promotion and consumer information projects and for communicating with pork producers and the public. Through a legislative national Pork Checkoff, pork producers invest $0.40 for each $100 value of hogs sold. The Pork Checkoff funds national and state programs in advertising, consumer information, retail and foodservice marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, technology, swine health and pork safety.

Source: National Pork Board - 8th March 003

5m Editor