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?