The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has announced that it will conduct a Request for Referendum next month to determine if producers want a referendum on the Pork Checkoff program.

USDA will only conduct a referendum on the Pork Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Order if at least 15% of the total number of eligible pork producers and importers request a referendum.

There are about 69,446 producers and importers who are eligible to participate. Based on that number, at least 10,417 must request a referendum.

Once a referendum is requested, it must be held within one year after the results are announced.

The Request for Referendum will be held Dec. 8, 2008 through Jan. 2, 2009. Producers and importers at least 18 years of age who engaged in pork production or the importation of hogs, pigs and pork products between Jan. 1, 2007 and Dec. 31, 2007 are eligible to participate.

For producers, the Request for Referendum will be conducted at the USDA County Farm Service Agency (FSA) office where their farm records are kept. For producers not participating in FSA programs, they can participate at the county FSA office where they own or rent land.

Eligible producers may obtain form LS-54-1: Pork Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Request for Referendum from the FSA office in person, by mail or fax. Forms may also be obtained at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/LSMarketingPrograms.

Participants must include supporting documentation of their eligibility to vote to the appropriate county FSA office by the close of business Jan. 2, 2009.

Importers may obtain LS-54-1 through the Marketing Programs Branch, Livestock and Seed Program, AMS, USDA or via the Internet at http://www.ams.usda.gov/LSMarketingPrograms.

For more information, contact Kenneth R. Payne, chief, Marketing Programs Branch, Room 2628-S, Livestock and Seed Program, AMS, USDA, Stop 0251, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20250-0251, or by calling (202) 720-1115, faxing (202) 720-1125 or e-mailing Kenneth.Payne@usada.gov.