National Pork Board (NPB) President John Kellogg has an appeal for all U.S. pork producers before casting their vote in the pork checkoff referendum anticipated in early to mid-September:
"You've got to learn more about checkoff programs; base your decision on facts rather than emotion," he stresses. "Many people don't realize the depth of the programs their checkoff dollars reach."
Value Test Kellogg suggests producers run their own value test on pork checkoff programs. Start by identifying the two biggest problems you face in your hog operation (or facing the pork industry as a whole) then call the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) to find out if they have allocated checkoff dollars toward research, promotion or producer education to address the problem.
"I know that all producers may not be personally involved at the state or national level; therefore, they are not aware of the many checkoff-funded programs," he adds. "But it is so important that they learn more about what's going on."
Kellogg quickly rattles off a list of recent checkoff-supported efforts producers might not associate with their checkoff dollars.
Schwan's home delivery service now features grill-ready pork products. "Although that's a checkoff program, the Schwan's truck driver's probably not going to show you anything that directly connects that program to the pork checkoff.
"Or, you may not think of Production and Financial Standards when your banker or your software provider comes to you and makes it available," he continues. "Chances are he's not going to say: 'this is available because of checkoff dollars.'
"Or, the food safety issues that are being handled. Cross our fingers, there's not been a major incident in the pork industry. That didn't just happen automatically or by luck.
"Or, the checkoff money spent on studying pit additives. When the report comes out of Purdue University, they probably won't associate it as being checkoff investment.
"Or, the tremendous efforts made all over the country and the world to address animal health and disease security issues."
He says the best and quickest way to get information on the checkoff is for pork producers to simply call their state organization office or call the NPPC office in Des Moines at (800) 456-PORK. "They should feel comfortable to just get on the phone and ask for the information they need."
Kellogg concludes: "This is going to be a very important decision that producers have to make this fall when they come to vote. They should not take it lightly. They should not assume that just because a poll taken last January said that most producers favored the checkoff or saw personal benefit from it that the referendum will automatically pass. This is absolutely not the time to take anything for granted. Make sure you vote."