The National Pork Board has named a new task force that will examine consumer needs, animal care, sustainable pork production and other current challenges facing the industry to define a future vision of the Pork Checkoff and, on a larger scale, the entire pork industry.
Beginning December 2013 the yearlong planning process will review research, market data and opinions of industry leaders to set a strategic vision that will carry the organization from 2015 through 2020. The primary goal is to assess the Pork Checkoff's role in an ever-changing world and set the priorities that can help pork producers better meet customer needs.
The current five-year strategic plan was unveiled in 2009 and will be complete next year. Through that process, the Pork Checkoff defined three critical issues, including: protecting a producer's freedom to operate, enhancing U.S. and international consumer demand for pork and making U.S. pork producers more competitive in the global marketplace.
To Pork Checkoff Chief Executive Officer Chris Novak, it comes down to asking the industry's key players a simple question - what if? - and then charting a course that can help pork farmers achieve the opportunities that single question may identify.
"In the hands of pork producers who have a vision for how we can better serve consumers, 'what if?' is an incredibly powerful tool to explore what we can attain as an industry," Novak said. "The last time we asked that question, we articulated an industry vision to become more responsible, sustainable, professional and profitable. We've made great progress these past four years, but we know we can achieve more through a focused planning effort that unites producers, processors and customers.
"Today, the agricultural industry faces many challenges that will define our next five years - and that is especially true for the pork industry. So it is very fitting that we begin our journey now to chart our vision through 2020 - collecting new thoughts, while improving upon what we have accomplished in the last five years," Novak said.
For the first time, the planning process will bring together pork producers, animal health experts, packers, processors and food distributors, and foodservice and retail experts. By involving key leaders from both pork production and its allied industries, the National Pork Board expects diverse opinions to inform its deliberations.
"Only through sharing information with each other and truly looking at our industry through the eyes of its key partners can we fully assess the challenges and opportunities that are ahead," Novak said. "For me, strategic planning comes down to analyzing three fundamental questions - Where are we today? Where do we want to be? How do we get there together?
"For example, we need to further our commitment to transparency and make all consumers aware of the ethical principles that guide our actions and business. We are committed to responsible and ethical animal agriculture that extends from animal care to environmental stewardship to food and worker safety programs, But what if - and how can - we improve? Together we will take that input and turn it into a plan of action."
The process will use a variety of tools to engage stakeholders in the planning process, including providing an opportunity for each of the more than 60,000 U.S. pork producers to participate by answering surveys and submitting opinions. The task force will collect valuable information from farmers, customers and supply chain partners. To facilitate a dialogue on the future of the pork industry, pork producers can email comments to - WhatIffirstname.lastname@example.org - on how the Pork Checkoff can best strengthen tomorrow's industry.
The participants in the National Pork Board's strategic planning task force include:
• Board president Karen Richter and board vice president Dale Norton
• Board members Jan Archer and Glen Walters
• Roy Lee Lindsey, executive director, Oklahoma Pork Council
• Randy Spronk, president, National Pork Producers Council
• Dr. Jay Akridge, dean of agriculture, Purdue University
• Pork producers Robert Dykhuis, James Heimerl, and Dr. Craig Rowles, DVM
• Rich Gallant, vice president, Cargill Meat Solutions
• Joe Jordon, vice president, Domino's Pizza
• Joe Swedberg, vice president, Hormel Foods
• Leann Saunders, president, Where Food Comes From, Inc.
• Rick Parker, director, JBS USA
• Michael Skahill, vice president, Smithfield Foods
The National Pork Board has responsibility for Checkoff-funded research, promotion and consumer information projects and for communicating with pork producers and the public. Through a legislative national Pork Checkoff, pork producers invest $0.40 for each $100 value of hogs sold. Importers of pork products contribute a like amount, based on a formula.