At its meeting this week in Des Moines, the National Pork Board will be reviewing its committee structure and mulling a report from a task force it appointed last spring to study how producer committees are organized.

The board currently has 11 pork producer-led committees that provides guidance on issues ranging from product marketing, environment, to animal health and food safety. The task force is recommending that the board trim the number of committees to eight by combining two committees that focus on producer services, education and communications and two others that focus on nutrition and pork safety.

It is also advising that a committee focused on niche marketing become a subcommittee of the merged producer group, and that the board assure that producers who specialize in providing niche market products be included on all board committees.

“Creating a task force to study our committee process was one of the recommendations in our new five-year strategic plan,” says Gene Nemechek, a swine veterinarian from Springdale, AR, who is president of the National Pork Board. “The task force recognized the importance of the work that producer-led committees do. They provide valuable expertise in areas the board, as a whole, might not possess. But the task force also found that there was some overlap between committees, prompting its recommendations on reorganization.

“The task force offered a number of other suggestions to improve the committee process, one of which calls for more direct involvement in the committee process by board members.

“The goal is to assure we have a committee structure that is more efficient and more focused on achieving the goals outlined in the five-year strategic plan the board approved last spring.”

If the Pork Board approves the task force report, the committee structure will include domestic marketing, producer education and services, environment, animal well-being, animal science, swine health, trade and pork safety and nutrition.

The National Pork Board meets Tuesday through Thursday. Tuesday afternoon the board will meet with the task force studying how the National Pork Board might better serve the needs of state pork organizations. It will also review a progress report from the task force focusing on Pork Board research objectives.

Also on the board’s agenda is approval of the 2011 program budget from the Plan of Work Task Force, a group of 50 diverse producers who make budget recommendations from goals outlined in the strategic plan. The new budget calls for $46 million of Pork Checkoff revenue to create new excitement for pork in the marketplace and to help consumers better understand and appreciate modern agriculture.

Other proposals will advance the work of the pork industry’s We Care initiative and fund research to address significant social, economic and production concerns facing the pork industry.

Once the board approves the budget, it will be sent to the secretary of agriculture for final approval.

The board will also:

  • Hear a report on plans for the 25th anniversary of the Pork Checkoff created by Congress in the 1985 farm bill;
  • Discuss a new vulnerabilities assessment to help guide the board on issues management;
  • Receive a progress report on work being done to reposition pork in the marketplace;
  • Receive training in the use of techniques on “social media;”
  • Play host to its annual staff appreciation luncheon; and
  • Start planning for the 2011 Pork Industry Forum in March.