National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) officials have confirmed that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) intends to conduct a survey to weigh support for a referendum on the pork checkoff program, which is administered by the National Pork Board (NPB).

NPPC CEO Neil Dierks confirms that the Request for Referendum is being conducted as a result of a settlement of a lawsuit on Feb. 28, 2001, between USDA and several state pork producer associations.

Under that agreement, it was decided that the NPPC and the NPB should operate independently while the pork checkoff is in effect.

Eligible producers, including contract growers and importers, will be able to participate during a four-week period in 2008, announced by the secretary of agriculture. Dierks says not dates have been announced.

If 15% of the eligible producers and importers want a referendum on the pork checkoff, it would have to be held within one year from the date the results of the Request for Referendum are announced.

Based on data for 2007, from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), there are 69,446 producers and importers who would be eligible to participate in the survey.

Eligible producers can participate through county Farm Service Agency offices that will confirm producer eligibility, canvas and count requests and report the results to AMS.

Importers must fill out customs forms or other documentation, and their eligibility to participate will be determined by AMS.