“Think about where you were 25 years ago,” challenged Gene Nemechek, National Pork Board president. As of this year, the National Pork Checkoff program is 25 years old.

“Together we can accomplish big things that individuals couldn’t do alone,” he told the 143 producer delegates at the Pork Act Delegate meeting held at 2011 National Pork Industry Forum, March 4-5 in Phoenix, Ariz. The meeting’s theme, appropriately enough was “Your pork checkoff: A silver anniversary and a golden opportunity.”

NBP is responsible for the collection and distribution of National Pork Checkoff funds, and is charged with research, education and promotion.

He cited various polls over the years that reflected producer’s support of the checkoff program holding in the range of 81 percent to 78 percent. “Checkoff is still working for pork producers.

Nemechek outlined numerous major accomplishments over those 25 years, some of which included:

  • “Groundbreaking product development like the McRib, and Burger King’s BK rib and expanding bacon’s usage beyond breakfast,” Nemechek noted.
  • Provided funding for mapping the swine genome, as well as other research, including psuedorabies eradication and nutrient management, biosecurity and more.
  •  Promote “Pork. The Other White Meat” ad campaign, which in 14 years became the 5th most recognized ad slogan. Looking ahead, “The new Pork brand campaign is inspiring and hopefully will get some demand moving domestically for our product,” he said. 
  • Raised the health and wellbeing of swine. Get 50,000 producers and their staff PQA-Plus certified, and 14,000 production sites accessed.
  • “Outline the pork industry’s six ethical principles, illustrating to our customers that we do care about our animals, workers, the community and the environment,” he said.

The No. 1 accomplishment as he noted: “Moving from a net pork importer to a net exporter, with one in four pigs today going to a market elsewhere in the world.”

He challenged producer delegates at Forum, and those at home. “We need to continue to move forward; we can’t stand our laurels,” he said. “Just as we learned 25 years ago, big efforts require big commitments.”