Steven Murphy is the National Pork Board’s new chief executive officer. He has a strong business background, including involvement with multiple startups. Most recently, he was president/ chief operating officer of AgWeb.com.

Q. What intrigues you about the NPB CEO job?
A. I thrive on challenges. While my agriculture roots run deep, my experience with the pork industry has been only peripheral to date. The opportunity to learn, the opportunity to make a significant difference in a rapidly shifting industry, the challenge of finding opportunity within this environment of change – these things provide substantial motivation for me.

Q. What are your top priorities for the NPB?
A. Frankly, after only a few weeks onboard, I’ve been very impressed with the staff, as well as the quantity and quality of their work. It leads me to believe that their output is a fairly well kept industry secret. I’ve identified the following three areas on which to focus my efforts: Communication – led by a grassroots effort to help producers understand how to get the most out of programs and tools developed through the investment of checkoff dollars. I also intend to clearly listen to all producers in order to get a better understanding of how NPB can best serve their needs. I plan to work closely with the state organizations to accomplish that goal.

- Incorporate strong business controls into the NPB structure and activities. Even though this is a nonprofit organization, for-profit disciplines like return on investment and accountability still apply. We are stewards of the producers’ checkoff dollars, and as such have a fiduciary responsibility to manage the business efficiently and effectively.

- I hope to be an ent of change. After 10 years of experience in the technology industry, I have grown to understand how companies survive and even thrive in a rapidly changing environment. I hope to share those experiences with staff and producers to help them stay in front of change, and to assist them in unearthing opportunities.

Q. What program and procedural changes need to be made?
A. NPB programs are producer driven, and as staff we are responsible for executing them effectively and efficiently. From a process standpoint, improvements can be made through an integrated execution approach– an element of strategic planning will assist in accomplishing that objective. It also is important that every activity have a clear and measurable objective that ties back to the strategy, and that staff is accountable for delivering on target.

Q. How will you apply your business skills to running an association?
A. I hope to be able to contribute by sreamlining the planning and budgeting process and incorporating a strategic component into the methodology. I also hope to create an effective two-way communication link between NPB and producers, and hope to bring an element of consensus building to the process.

Q. What are some of the major topics facing the pork industry? How will you address these?
A. Food safety, animal welfare and the environment are substantial growth areas. Certainly the events of Sept. 11, 2001, have served as a catalyst as it relates to these topics. NPB is closely evaluating our ability to serve the industry within these subjects in a quality way, and we’re in the process of adjusting and expanding our science and technology, environment, education and production support to insure producer needs are met.

Q. How do you see NPB’s relationship with the National Pork Producer’s Council?
A. NPB views NPPC as a sister organization. While our roles are different and clearly defined, we serve all pork producers. As a result, our objectives, although separate, should be consistent. The transition goal was to create two viable organizations that are better positioned to serve the producer. We are close to that target.

Q . How do you address critics who contend the checkoff only helps large pork producers and promotes packer ownership?A . NPB (and checkoff) activities are limited to promotion, research and education, and its programs and activities are designed to serve all producers. NPB recognizes the concerns of some as it relates to this issue, and is open to producer input that will give us a better understanding of who feels left out and how we can better serve their needs.

Q. What are your plans to secure the national pork checkoff’s future?
A. NPB’s goal is not to perpetuate the checkoff program, but rather to invest the funds on programs to better serve producers. We respect producers’ right to choose. Our goal is to provide them with the information needed to make an informed decision.