The Indiana Producers Association Board of Directors has voted to reorganize the state pork organization into two separate groups. According to IPPA President Keith Schoettmer, Tipton, Ind., the board voted to form a new membership organization that has yet to be named.

He says the board decided there must be a clear separation between pork checkoff activities and pork advocacy issues. This action follows the USDA-directed national pork checkoff agreement that mandated the separation of the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council. However, state pork producer associations were exempt from the USDA agreement. IPPA’s actions come under its own accord.

"IPPA still exists, but it will address only pork checkoff programs," says Schoettmer. IPPA will continue to manage all pork checkoff funds. Schoettmer says the major structural change will be in the makeup and election of IPPA’s board of directors. It will decline from 70 producers to 18, with all producers having the opportunity to vote for their board representative. There also will be an open annual meeting.

"Producers have voiced concern that they don't know how their checkoff funds are managed," says Schoettmer. "These new changes should give producers the opportunity to get as involved in the checkoff decisions as they want."

The board also approved the formation of a new pork organization, which will be membership-based, and deal solely with public policy and advocacy issues. "The No.1 concern producers have is all the legislative, regulatory and legal issues facing pork producers," says Schoettmer. "Because of the way the federal checkoff law is written no checkoff funds can be used to represent pork producers on those issues. That means we have to raise additional funds to represent producers in the public policy arena," he adds.

Membership fees and voluntary contributions will fund the new group, with voting shares allotted based on contribution amount. The membership structure will allow producers, local pork organizations, allied industry and youth to become members. The new group would elect its board of directors, exclusive of IPPA and establish its bylaws.

"Producers have to understand that their checkoff funds can’t be used for public policy issues. The only way we can successfully deal with public policy is to form a new organization that can raise the funds needed to support those issues," says Schoettmer.

Schoettmer says plans are underway to have the new pork organization ready to begin operations by the first of September. For information, producers can contact the IPPA office at (800) 535-2405.

IPPA news release.