The National Pork Board and the pork industry’s national Pork Checkoff program celebrate 25 years of service to U.S pork producers this year. The milestone was observed at the 23rd annual World Pork Expo being held  this week in Des Moines.

Pork has evolved considerably over the last 25 years and the checkoff has been an important partner to the industry .  “As we look back over the past 25 years, there have been many changes and challenges to meat consumption and the checkoff has helped address each one,” says Chris Novak, NPB chief executive officer. “The ‘Other White Meat’ campaign, funded by the pork checkoff, helped position pork among consumers as a lean, nutritious and healthful meat protein. “

Today, the effort encompasses the new ‘Pork. Be Inspired’ campaign as well as the new lower cooking temperatures recommended for pork recently approved by the USDA.

The pork checkoff was created by the 1985 Farm Bill under the Pork Act signed into law by President Reagan in 1986. The collection of funds contributed by pork producers was begun in 1986. Pork checkoff funds are invested in three primary areas that benefit U.S. pork producers:  pork promotion, research and education.

NPB estimates that $75 million will be collected in checkoff revenue in 2011. Twenty percent of checkoff funds collected are returned to state pork producer associations to help address needs on a local basis. The investment by pork producers is currently 40 cents per $100 of value from hog sales.

Pork Quality Assurance Plus is a primary example of the programs funded by pork checkoff. “The PQA Plus program helps the pork industry give consumers the assurance that pork is a healthy and nutritious product they can be proud to feed their family,” says Novak. “We currently have 52,000 pork producers certified in the PQA Plus program.”

Promotion, education and research are all important contributions to ensure the future for the U.S. pork industry. The NPB and the pork checkoff are dependable partners to help the industry remain the world’s leader in pork production.