If the mandatory nationwide pork checkoff program fails, pork producers will be asked to form an organization consisting of existing staff members of the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council.

“We’ll start over. It would be a new name,” reports Pork Board chairman Craig Christensen and veteran hog producer Glen Keppy of Davenport, IA. The pair, who spoke to county delegates at the Iowa Pork Producers annual meeting in Des Moines, was appointed to two, 12-15-member task forces at the 2003 Pork Forum.

The task forces are looking into alternatives should the pork checkoff be discontinued. A federal district court and a federal appeals court have ruled the checkoff, now 40-cent/$100 market value, is unconstitutional.

The U.S. Department of Justice has petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court’s ruling declaring the beef checkoff unconstitutional, says Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman. But there has been no word on the fate of the pork checkoff.

Christensen and Keppy say producers need to be proactive in defending their industry. The pair say there “is a growing need to address critical public policy programs that are not legally funded through mandatory checkoff dollars.” They also indicated research and market development programs must continue.

Sustainable funding would be sought through a voluntary checkoff of 45-50 cents/$100 of value.