NPPC is entering a new era," said Dave Roper, newly elected National Pork Producers Council president. "We have a new structure and a renewed focus."

Identifying funding sources was among the top priorities that NPPC delegates from 43 states addressed last month at the National Pork Industry Forum in Denver, Colo.

Based on the checkoff settlement agreement between the pork industry and USDA, responsibilities have been split between NPPC and the National Pork Board. NPPC will take on legislative, regulatory, public policy and advocacy issues – all of which are exempt from mandatory checkoff funding.

Such non-checkoff revenue sources have included: World Pork Expo; allied industry, packer/processor and other voluntary contributions; rent from the Des Moines office that NPB now occupies; assessments from state producer groups; and funds generated by Environmental Management Solutions.

Now you can add a voluntary checkoff to that list. The delegates approved a resolution to create a program whereby a producer would sign a consent card with his/her packer to deduct $0.10/$100 value per market hog sold. Half of the money collected would go to the producer's state pork association, with the other half sent to NPPC.

At Pork Forum, Neil Dierks, NPPC's executive director, presented a forecasted budget of $7.36 million, compared to the $2.1 million spent in 2001.

"NPPC has never used checkoff dollars for lobbying and legislative activities," noted Barb Determan, outgoing NPPC president. "We lost efficiencies with the split of NPPC and the Pork Board. Producers used to be able to wear two hats." That also was true for some staff members, now divided between NPPC and NPB.

Not having World Pork Expo last year, and defending the national pork checkoff further burdened NPPC's financial resources. NPB can only work to educate people about the checkoff; it can not come to its legal or political defense.

Due to its voluntary nature, participation estimates for the newly proposed checkoff range from 30 percent to 50 percent, at least in the early years. Roper believes contributions from 70 percent of the nation's market hogs would occur.

While the delegates agreed there is an "immediate" need to get the contributions started, NPPC officials weren't sure if program details would be ready by World Pork Expo. Breeding stock, feeder or weaned pigs, imported live hogs and pork products still need to be addressed, but it appears those contributions will be at the seller's discretion.

Another funding source will come from membership dues as part of NPPC's restructuring, which the delegates also approved in Denver. A 40-member task force, created at last year's Pork Forum, drew up the proposal known as "Shareholder Outreach #10: Future Organizational Structures." (See Pork Inc. on page 12.)

"Membership will include all segments of the pork industry chain and will not be exclusive to pork producers," said Bryan Black, a task force participant from Ohio.

State associations will direct the membership efforts. In terms of pork producers, membership will be open to owners, operators, managers, individuals involved in cooperatives, contractors, contract growers and pork production employees. Other members can include state or regional pork associations, input suppliers and allied industry, packers and processors, retail and foodservice entities, pork exporters and importers.

"It's important that the pork chain be involved and represented in the new
organization," commented Mike Townsley, with Premium Standard Farms, representing packers/processors on the task force. "But at the end of the day, it's still a producer organization."

Exact membership fees have not yet been determined. "It will be pay to play," said Donna Reifschneider, former NPPC president and task force member. "He who plays will have to pay."