On the very popular game show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,” contestants have three “lifelines” to help them attain the correct and “final” answers to the multiple-choice questions.

I don't watch the show regularly, but I did catch part of it recently. As I watched, it occurred to me that we, too, offer lifelines to our readers through various avenues.

Our first lifeline, National Hog Farmer, the magazine, provides news, production and business information aimed at making your pork production system more efficient and, hopefully, more profitable. Now, of course, we make no pretense or promise that the payoff will be a million bucks, but we do understand that it is not unusual for a modern-day pork producer to have that much, and more, invested in their operations. That's why we push harder and dig deeper to provide you with the facts, figures and documentation necessary to support a claim or new technology.

This lifeline also includes our very popular Blueprint Series that we have been sending your way since 1985. Traditionally, the Blueprints offer an in-depth study of a specific production phase, a herd health challenge or new pork production technology.

Next month's Blueprint, for example, will dig deeper into the National Pork Producers Council's Production & Financial Standards for the Pork Industry. We helped roll out the standards program with a special report in 1997 (the “Silver” edition), followed by the popular “Gold” edition in 1999, which included standardized and updated definitions and formulas that allow producers to compare their production and financial records with others — apples to apples.

The 2001 version, the “Platinum” edition, will serve as the 32nd Blueprint in our series. It will feature extensive coverage of the National Pork Database, the key to unlocking benchmark comparisons reported in real-time updates. Additional features will include return on equity (ROE) models, a profile of a 2,500-sow, farrow-to-finish sample farm and much more. This is exciting stuff because it advances recordkeeping and analysis into an Internet-based era.

We already know that we will not be able to offer examples of all of the reports generated by the standards program. Therefore, we will extend our printed coverage with supplemental information, report screens and additional information about the Pork Database and its benchmarking capabilities through Internet hyperlinks.

Which brings me to your second lifeline — our newly redesigned Web site — www.nationalhogfarmer.com — where you will find more industry news, supplemental details to stories, additional references and links to other Web sites.

Every Monday morning we will post the latest pork industry news and add special features, including research updates, monthly Hogs & Pigs reports, letters (and e-mails) to the editor and so on. Of course, when breaking news surfaces, we will post it on our Web site within hours. That's the beauty of the World Wide Web — it operates on real time without paper, ink or press time.

Your third lifeline is available quickly and easily from www.nationalhogfarmer.com by simply clicking on AgriClick.com. When you do, you gain access to the much bigger world of agriculture, including nine of the top agricultural magazines in the U.S. We know that many of our readers also have a vested interest in corn, soybeans, cattle, etc. And, from the AgriClick.com site you can easily access the latest market information for other commodities, news of the day, legislative information, employment opportunities and much, much more. It's virtually a one-stop, electronic library of agricultural news and information. How's that for a valuable lifeline?

So, here's a quick review. Know that National Hog Farmer magazine is your first lifeline to in-depth news, business and production information. In this issue, you will find several small Web site reference boxes similar to the one shown below. The box will alert you that more information can be found on www.nationalhogfarmer.com — your second lifeline.

For example, you will find one of these boxes with the story on page 16. There you will read about the 35 manure additive products tested in the NPPC Odor Solutions Initiative. The Web site reference box at the end of the article will remind you that the manufacturer of each product, their address and telephone numbers can be found on our Web site.

Finally, if you want to check out other sectors of agriculture from our site, simply click on AgriClick, and a world of information will be at your fingertips.

Now I'm no Regis Philbun, but I'm sure as you become more familiar with this wealth of information, you will find the correct and “final answers” to most of your questions.