With the long list of challenges confronting pork producers today, the National Pork Board is seeking producer input to help shape the future of the U.S. pork industry.

The goal of the series of meetings is to find new solutions to the economic, social and scientific challenges facing the pork industry.

The July regional meetings are open to all pork producers and to others with an interest in the future of the pork industry and the role of the Pork Checkoff. The meetings will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. as follows:

July 23 in Omaha, NE, at the Holiday Inn Convention Center, 3321 S. 72nd St.;

July 24 in Indianapolis, IN, at the Indiana Pork Producers office, 5722 W. 74th St., and

July 27 in Clinton, NC, at Sampson Community College, 1801 Sunset Ave.

In 2010, the National Pork Board will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the creation of the national Pork Checkoff. The strategic planning process is motivated in part by a desire to look at the role of the Pork Checkoff with fresh eyes, just as the pioneering producers who created the Pork Checkoff did 25 years ago, says National Pork Board Chief Executive Officer Chris Novak.

For Novak, the big questions to be addressed are: “What are the industry’s needs, concerns and priorities now, and what will they be five years from now and even 25 years from now? And what should the National Pork Board be doing to address these needs through the Pork Checkoff?”

At the regional meetings, producers will hear a brief overview of the National Pork Board, its role in the industry and its statutory obligations. There will be a progress report on the planning process, and then producers will have the opportunity to offer ideas and discuss others’ ideas. The best of those ideas will go to the task force of producer leaders who are working with the Pork Board to craft a new plan for the future. The board is expected to approve a new strategic plan by the end of 2009.

Producers unable to participate in the regional meetings can provide their ideas to their state office or to state leaders attending the meetings, Novak says. They also will have the opportunity to participate in an online survey that will be available at National Pork Board.

Lunch will be provided at the regional meetings. To assist with meal planning, anyone planning to attend should call (toll-free) the Producer Service Center at the National Pork Board, (800) 456-7675 before July 17, 2009. Customer service representatives will provide details and directions to the meeting sites.