Pork America, the national producer-owned marketing cooperative, is now accepting membership applications.

The initial membership drive began Feb. 21 and is open to individual pork producers, producer groups and other cooperatives.

The cooperative was incorporated and registered in December. Pork America's goal is to coordinate pork production from farm to market, add value to products and to capture value further up in the pork food chain.

"Pork America plans to revolutionize pork marketing," says Jack Rundquist, Butler, IL, pork producer and board chairman. "Producers need to increase their return on their investment in the pork business. Pork America is designed to provide the tools necessary to make that happen."

Producers who join the cooperative before April 15 will be foundation members, according to Rundquist. They will be given priority for the cooperative venture and program opportunities.

To join Pork America, producers are required to purchase one $500 share of membership stock. Producers must also register their pigs with the cooperative. During the foundation membership drive, the cost is $500 for the first 5,000 head and $100 for each additional 1,000 head.

Allied industry memberships are also available, but voting membership is limited to actual pork producers and groups of producers. Voting members may be individual producers, partnerships, corporations, family groups and organizations controlled by producers.

The cooperative's goals include partnerships with packers, processors and others in the pork chain which allow producer-members to increase their income from their pork enterprise. Pork America has already commissioned feasibility studies and programplanning.

"We intend to explore every opportunity, looking for alliances and partnerships that can help us obtain and retain additional value for our members' production," Rundquist says.

The cooperative also is taking applications for a chief executive officer. The CEO will lead the organization through the business planning, membership recruitment, capital development and business transactions.

Interested candidates can contact Rundquist by phone at (217) 532-5350; fax, (217) 532-3232; or by mail at 124 Rundquist Lane, Butler, IL 62015.

For membership information, go to www.porkamerica.com or contact Linden Olson; phone, (507) 372-4708; e-mail, lolson@rconnect.com; or 28190 Paul Ave., Worthington, MN 56187.