Larabee, IA, pork producer Tim Bierman has been elected by his fellow board members as president of the National Pork Board. Gene Nemechek, DVM, swine veterinarian with Tyson Foods in Springdale, AR, has been elected vice president. Both begin immediately serving one-year terms.

Bierman, board vice president, has a long history of pork industry service with the Iowa Pork Producers Association. He serves on the pork board’s trade committee. In the past, he served on the national group’s animal well-being, domestic marketing and budget committees and has held a number of other state and national pork industry positions.

“Pork producers know this is one of the most challenging periods our industry has ever faced,” Bierman says. “It began almost two years ago with the sudden and dramatic increase in our input costs because of higher corn and soybean prices. And now with the H1N1 flu, we’re experiencing lower prices for our pigs because of the way some countries and some consumers have misconstrued the role of swine in the global pandemic.

“At the same time,” Bierman says, “I am optimistic because I believe the National Pork Board, through the pork checkoff, is well positioned to help producers work through the current challenges. We continue to assure consumers and our trading partners that pork is safe to eat. We have new research from the National Animal Disease Center that proves what we already knew: That even when pigs get sick from the flu, that they recover and return to normal and that there are no traces of flu virus in the meat.

“We continue to market pork products aggressively at home and abroad. And we continue to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Pork Producers Council, swine veterinarians and others to assure that producers have the information they need in these challenging times.

“I’m also optimistic about the progress our industry is making through the We Care initiative to demonstrate to all of our customers that U.S. pork producers are ethically and scientifically committed to delivering high-quality pork products that are safe, nutritious and affordable. I will continue to encourage producers to become certified in our industry’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus program and to have their sites assessed so we can continuously improve our animal handling practices. I will be urging producers to get involved in their communities and to help young and old consumers understand what it’s like to farm in the 21st century. I’m looking forward to a good year.”

Bierman and his wife, Mary, raise 15,000 hogs annually on their diversified farm in northwest Iowa. Bierman succeeds California pork producer Steve Weaver who has one year remaining on his three-year term on the board.

The pork board officers were elected during their summer meeting held at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.

At their meeting, the board focused on both the 2009 and 2010 budgets. The board agreed to cut 2009 spending by $4.2 million to account for unexpected expenses related to the industry’s response to the H1N1 flu outbreak this spring. The board assured that this decision won’t affect a new proposal to spend an additional $1 million on pork promotion this fall.

The board also set a $46.8 million target for the 2010 budget. This figure compares to a $58.5 million budget for 2009. Because of lower hog prices, checkoff revenues are expected to decline in 2010.

For more information on pork checkoff programs, call the Pork Checkoff Service Center at (800) 456-7675.