Beyond the decision to recommend a reduction in the National Pork Checkoff rate at the recent National Pork Industry Forum, Pork Act Delegates outlined their preferred procedures for USDA's eventual checkoff survey.

In keeping with the pork industry and USDA checkoff settlement agreement, the agriculture department will conduct a producer survey in 2003 to determine whether to hold a national checkoff referendum. After much discussion, delegates approved an amended resolution that suggests only those producers who can verify that they have sold animals and paid checkoff assessments for the 12 months preceding the survey or referendum announcement date be eligible to participate.

Also, youth enrolled in swine projects should be included in the producer count used to calculate the number of signatures needed for a checkoff referendum. Barry Carpenter, representing USDA, pointed out that such a request must come from 15 percent of all U.S. pork producers.

The resolution also addresses the need to ensure that eligible individuals participate only once, and that all verifiers are trained, understand and enforce survey and referendum guidelines uniformly.

"In the previous referendum, there was no differentiation concerning age or organizational involvement," said Carpenter. "USDA's basic principle is that if you pay checkoff, you have a right to vote."

"This resolution will serve as our recommendation," noted Hugh Dorminy, NPB president. "It will be the (USDA) secretary's decision what to do."