Pork producers can vote in-person or by absentee ballot in the pork checkoff referendum. Here is a synopsis of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rules on the upcoming vote.

Voting In-person voting will be Sept. 19-21 at county Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices. If they participate in FSA programs, producers should vote at the county office where they normally do business. If they do not participate in FSA programs, producers should vote at the FSA office in the county where they raise hogs.

Producers can request absentee ballots from their county FSA office starting Aug. 1. Requests can be made in-person or by telephone, facsimile or mail. Ballots will be mailed on or after Aug. 18. Absentee ballots must be returned or postmarked by Sept. 21.

The Question The question on the ballot will read "Do you favor continuing the pork checkoff program? Yes or No."

Eligibility Producers and businesses that owned and sold one or more hogs from Aug. 18, 1999, to Aug. 17, 2000, may vote.

Three types of eligible voters include:

* Persons who own and sell hogs or pigs in the U.S. in their own name;

* Persons who import hogs, pigs, pork and pork products into the U.S. in their own name; and

* Persons who are designated to cast a single vote for a business entity that owns, sells or imports hogs, pigs, pork or pork products.

You are not eligible to vote if you are:

* A contract grower who did not own or sell hogs in your own name; or,

* A producer who left hog farming prior to Aug. 18, 1999.

Challenge Procedure FSA offices will display a list of all people who voted in that county.

If anyone believes that an ineligible person voted, he can challenge that person's ballot. Each challenge must be written and signed by the challenger.

When a vote has been challenged, the voter will be required to submit documentation, such as sales or tax records, to the county FSA office.

The challenge period is from Sept. 22 to Oct. 2. AMS officials are required to notify producers who cast the challenged votes by Oct. 6. The producers must provide documentation within five business days.