Pork Forum delegates discuss building non-checkoff monies.

Pork producers may face the option of a new voluntary pork checkoff in the future. This voluntary checkoff would be used to fund areas that cannot be financed by the current, mandatory Pork Act checkoff. Fighting legal battles, responding to trade disputes and lobbying for fair environmental regulations cannot be paid for from Pork Act checkoff money.

So producer delegates of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) approved preliminary plans for a voluntary checkoff. The delegates met at the NPPC annual meeting held during the Pork Industry Forum in Reno, NV, March 5-7.

NPPC delegates will take the proposed checkoff back to states for discussion and guidance. They plan to meet again this fall to act on the checkoff proposal.

The proposed checkoff, also called a "voluntary investment program," would raise much-needed money for handling issues outside of the Pork Act. The Pork Act states the current checkoff of 45 cents/$100 value of market hog can only be used for producer education, pork promotion and research.

New NPPC President Donna Reifschneider presented the proposed voluntary investment plan to the delegates. She reported state pork producer groups cited a growing need for non-checkoff money.

"During a Federation Council meeting, we did a survey on the non-checkoff needs in states," Reifschneider said. "Of the 42 states, 36 said non-checkoff needs were increasing dramatically. The most common state increase was 25% annually.

"The leading cause for increases are state and local regulations, legal aid expenses, lobbying and staff time related to these interests," she added.

Current Non-Checkoff Budgets Until now, non-checkoff money was raised by membership fees, trade shows and allied industry contributions on the state level. Together, the states generate about $3 million each year in non-checkoff money, according to Reifschneider.

NPPC generates about $2.6 million annually from World Pork Expo, allied industry contributions and the Packer Processor Industry Council (PPIC). They also receive other money from such sources as Pork Report and state producer groups. The NPPC budget in 1998 calls for $3.2 million to be spent in non-checkoff areas.

However, the need is much greater than the current revenues, according to Reifschneider. NPPC expects to need $1.25 million/year more in non-checkoff dollars for the next three years. Plus, state producer groups estimate their needs to grow $2 million/year for the next three years in addition to their current non-checkoff revenue.

The outside sources for non-checkoff funds may be at the limit. "The pool of money out there is shrinking and we were looking at ways to generate our own funds," Reifschneider said. "We hear from producers that it is harder to get involved in the state fairs and those kinds of things. And the states' annual meetings have fewer companies to be involved in their conventions."

The proposed investment checkoff could help solve the fund-raising problems.

Voluntary Checkoff The proposed investment program calls for a 5 cents/market hog or sow checkoff at the point of animal sale. The money raised would be split 50% to states and 50% to NPPC.

The PPIC will be strongly urged to establish a contribution, too, at 2.5 cents/animal. These funds would be allocated by NPPC where needed.

If approved, producers will need to sign up for the voluntary checkoff.

"We've talked to packers about this (checkoff)," Reifschneider explained. "It will be treated as a line item deduction. There would be a form for the producer to fill out saying (the market) may take out the contribution. It would be a one-time signing. If you change your mind, it can certainly be rescinded."

Reifschneider said they anticipate 70% participation for the proposed investment checkoff. This amounts to about $3.4 million annually.

The proposal facing the NPPC delegates calls for the NPPC Board of Directors to evaluate the need for the non-checkoff funds each year.

The NPPC delegates approved the voluntary concept and agreed to meet at a special session before Oct. 1 to act on the proposal.

Delegate Discussion During the annual meeting, NPPC delegates generally supported the proposal. In fact, North Carolina already has a state checkoff with funds allocated to producer needs not covered by the Pork Act checkoff.

Jim Stocker of Murphy Family Farms and an NPPC board member, said Murphy Family Farms currently contributes 3 cents/pig to this fund.

"It has worked in North Carolina and can be made to work (nationally)," he said. "I certainly speak in favor of establishing something that will take care of the big need we have. It seems to be growing faster than our hog business."

Delegates Against Local Rules After some debate, delegates to the NPPC annual meeting approved a resolution discouraging local government jurisdiction in environmental rules.

Instead, the delegates supported federal and/or state jurisdiction of environmental rules for agriculture. This move is a desire to head off hundreds of different rules being considered by local governments including county commissions and health boards.

Sometimes the rules devised at local levels are based on emotion and not sound science. This can affect the viability of pork production in those areas.

The delegate support of this resolution followed earlier action on a set of national environmental standard regulations. During 1997, representatives of NPPC negotiated with federal and state environmental agencies. Together, these groups developed standard environmental rules for hog farms.

Called the National Environmental Dialogue on Pork Production, the standard rules were released in December 1997. (See story in National Hog Farmer, Jan. 15, 1998, page 8.) Delegates gave their stamp of approval to the dialogue during the NPPC annual meeting.

The pork industry is the first livestock industry to work with environmental groups on developing model regulatory guidelines for hog farms of all sizes. The guidelines are based on proven science and generally accepted best management practices.

It is hoped the dialogue will be used by state and federal groups for formulating environmental rules. This will create consistent, reasonable rules.

The dialogue covers such items as: permitting procedures; design and management standards; siting; developing nutrient management plans; training and certification for manure handling; inspections; and emergency responses.

Other Resolutions The 150 NPPC delegates considered 21 resolutions during the annual meeting. They approved 11 resolutions.

Food Safety The issue of food safety and a pork producer's responsibility was the focus of three resolutions.

The delegate body approved one proposal urging packers to require Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) Level III certification by Jan. 1, 2000. The resolution also urged NPPC to continue to educate producers about the PQA program.

Also approved was a resolution supporting further work on a national identification system for all market hogs, sows and boars. The identification system would allow traceback to the producer in the event of animal health or residue problems.

Trichinae, PRRS Trichinae and PRRS (Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome) were the subjects of two other resolutions approved by the NPPC delegates.

One resolution called for the pork industry to aggressively pursue steps to certify U.S. pork products trichinae-free. The resolution also called for communicating this to domestic and international pork markets.

While the U.S. supply of pork is virtually trichinae-free, no inspection system exists to certify this. As the U.S. strives to increase pork exports, the need to prove the trichinae-free status becomes more important. Countries like Denmark have tested every hog for trichinae for several decades with no positive tests. This diligence has helped make Denmark successful in pork exports.

Action taken on another resolution supported a research project to study the feasibility of eliminating PRRS infection in U.S. herds through on-farm management practices.

The resolution called for summarizing current PRRS research. Management recommendations must be developed for controlling or eliminating PRRS. And finally, the resolution called for the dissemination of effective, on-farm protocols for managing the disease.

Emergency Health Plan Following a presentation on the recent hog cholera outbreak in The Netherlands, NPPC delegates asked for the development of a national animal health emergency management plan.

The approved resolution called for NPPC to work with state associations, state animal health officials, USDA and other commodity groups to develop this plan.

Recent outbreaks like hog cholera and Foot-And-Mouth Disease in Taiwan highlight the devastation these diseases can bring to a hog industry. The U.S. is not immune from such disease outbreaks and should be prepared.

The emergency plan should include things like:

* Appropriate level of inspection of passengers at U.S. points of entry.

* Ability to conduct surveillance programs.

* A swift, aggressive response system.

* A regionalization plan to minimize the impact of the disease in the U.S.

* Procedures for providing indemnification to affected herds.

Pork And Beans An Iowa resolution asking for lean pork to be included in the popular pork and beans canned product was amended and passed.

Delegates decided to work with packers, processors and food manufacturers to improve and add more value to family favorites like pork and beans.

The delegates also approved a resolution pushing for more aggressive marketing of the "Pork. The Other White Meat" campaign.

Producers not paying the required checkoff on farm-to-farm feeder pig and breeding stock sales have a grace period to begin paying without penalty. The National Pork Board voted to halt penalties until July 1, 1998, to allow producers to begin remitting the checkoff.

Board President Esther VerMeer stated some producers may not have realized their responsibility to pay the checkoff on farm-to-farm sales of weaner or SEW pigs and breeding stock. During the grace period, the penalty of $1,000/infraction and 1.5%/month late fee will be waived.

The mandatory pork checkoff produced $61 million in 1997, up from $58 million in 1996. The National Pork Board offered their report at the recent Pork Industry Forum.

The National Pork Board is responsible for the collection and disbursement of the pork checkoff. They reported revenues were much higher last year than expected. The year ended with a record surplus of $10.9 million.

However, in 1998, the board expects lower revenues due to lower hog prices. They are estimating a $56 million budget.

National Pork Board delegates chose eight nominees for possible selection to the 15-member Pork Board. Five seats for three-year terms are vacant on the board. The eight names will be submitted to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman. Glickman will then appoint five members to the National Pork Board.

The nominees in order of delegate body priority are: Greg Boerboom, Marshall, MN, and Bobby Bryan, Dillwyn, VA, (both incumbents); Tom Floy, Thornton, IA; Donald Berend, Wichita Falls, TX; Kaye Whitehead, Muncie, IN; Nash Johnson, Clinton, NC; Richard Alig, Okarche, OK; and Mike Lewis, Tulare, CA.

Details of a program to seek and test odor control technology was announced at the Pork Industry Forum. The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) plans to spend $3.5 million for an Odor Solutions Initiative. The initiative was first announced last summer at World Pork Expo.

The Odor Solutions Initiative will identify and evaluate biological, chemical, mechanical and management technologies to reduce odor. The initiative also will reward the individuals bringing this technology forward.

Beginning in April, a selection committee will solicit entries from individuals and private industry for products to be tested. Each product will be tested on three to five farms per technology. The testing is scheduled to begin in July.

Odor and water quality will be monitored at the farm sites while the technology is in place. Odor will be measured by olfactometry, chemical analysis and any other documented method.

A third-party verification of odor measurement and laboratory procedures will be provided by a private firm specializing in these procedures.

The intent of the initiative is to see how well these technologies or products live up to their claims, reports John Kellogg, Yorkville, IL. Results of the testing will be provided to producers at the end of the program.

Kellogg adds NPPC needs producers willing to have the technology tested on their farms.

With little fanfare, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) elected the first woman president in its history. Donna Reifschneider of Smithton, IL, took over the position during the Pork Industry Forum held recently in Reno, NV. Reifschneider succeeded Jerry King, of Victoria, IL.

Reifschneider and her husband Jim own a 600-sow, farrow-to-wean operation. The couple also raise corn, soybeans, milo and wheat.

In the coming year, Reifschneider vowed to focus NPPC's efforts in two areas acutely affecting producers: the environment and hog prices. She cited the on-farm environmental audit and odor assessments along with a new program, the odor initiative, as ways to help producers solve environmental problems.

"We hope in the next few years to have a majority of hog farms involved in the assessments," she said. "We're trying to make our producers better stewards and actually better producers in the process.

"Price is the other area on producers' minds," she said. "We at NPPC know this is a serious challenge. We are working in the retail area, getting the Other White Meat tale out and showing retailers the value of pork products."

Reifschneider also said they will continue to push for more government purchases of pork.

While a member of the NPPC Board of Directors, Reifschneider served as chair of the Demand Enhancement Committee, Food Safety Committee and Budget Committee. She also chaired the Pork Quality Assurance Committee and participated in the National Environmental Dialogue on Pork Production.

Officers Elected The new NPPC president-elect is John McNutt of Iowa City, IA. McNutt is part owner and general manager of his family's 300-sow, farrow-to-finish operation. He also assists his wife, Ilene Lande, in the operation of her biological products company.

Craig Jarolimek of Forest River, ND, was named NPPC vice president. Jarolimek and his wife Dawn operate a 5,000-head finishing operation. They also raise wheat, barley and sugar beets.

Other Election Results NPPC Board of Directors - Elected to three-year terms: Jarolimek; Lynn Green, Morgan, MN; Max Waldo, DeWitt, NE; and Jill Appell, Altona, IL.

Randy Buller, Apple Valley, MN, was elected to the associate member seat on the NPPC Board of Directors representing allied industry. This is a two-year term. He is district manager for Elanco Animal Health.Pork Industry Nominati ng Committee - Elected to the committee responsible for selecting, interviewing and recommending candidates for national leadership positions were: Rick Rehmeier, Augusta, MO; Charlie Miller, Alexander, NY; and Don Buhl, Tyler, MN.