While the decision is still fresh and the details are sketchy, pork producers attending the National Pork Industry Forum, March 3-5 in Orlando, Fla., have agreed to investigate future options for a U.S. pork industry organization.
The action occurred in an unprecedented “unofficial” industry meeting that followed the completion of the National Pork Board’s annual meeting on the afternoon of March 5. The National Pork Producers Council’s annual meeting had ended earlier that same day. Producers from Indiana presented the proposal for discussion and action by those attending the industry meeting.
David Culbertson, NPB president, set that hat aside and acted as an Illinois pork producer in directing the meeting and the discussion. During the session various producers spoke about the need to look to the future and determine how best to meet pork producers’ needs and what such an organization might look like. The concern, uncertainty and need to pursue the design of future organization revolves around the unknown future of commodity checkoff programs. The U.S. beef industry’s checkoff program is currently awaiting a U.S. Supreme Court decision, which could impact more than 100 commodity checkoff programs, including the national pork checkoff. The Supreme Court’s decision is expected anytime before June 28.
“The proposal came from the industry, for the industry,” says Culbertson. He and others contend the industry needs to take this action “regardless of a Supreme Court’s negative or positive ruling” on checkoff programs.
More details about this new effort will be forthcoming, notes Culbertson, but for now the rough idea is to organize a pork industry strategy group—although that’s not an official name. The expectation is that 15 or so pork industry leaders will come together to look at options for a future organization.
“This is not a splinter group,” says Culbertson, citing R-Calf as an example of a group that has split off from the National Cattleman’s Beef Association.
No checkoff money will be spent on the endeavor. “We will need industry support with this,” he adds. By that he means in terms of funding, ideas and direction.