Continuing a tradition begun two years ago, the National Pork Board will travel to a major pork-producing state for its first meeting of the new year. Following meetings in Raleigh, N.C., two years ago and in Columbus, Ohio, last year, the board will be in Oklahoma City Jan. 12-15 to meet with Oklahoma producers and producer leaders.

Oklahoma ranks eighth nationally in total swine numbers and fifth in the number of pigs produced; the state is a major producer of piglets that are finished in nearby states. According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Oklahoma producers market approximately 7.5 million hogs annually, producing cash receipts of more than $636 million. Nearly 16,000 Oklahomans are employed in swine production.

"From our meetings the last two years we have learned the value of having open and frank discussions with local producers," said Gene Nemechek, a swine veterinarian from Springdale, Ark., and president of the National Pork Board. "Producers from different parts of the country face unique challenges and sometimes have unique views on issues confronting the pork production industry. We look forward to learning from our fellow producers in Oklahoma.

"These meetings also give local producers the opportunity to ask board members about decisions we've made," Nemechek said. "It's a great opportunity to discuss our new five-year strategic plan and how we're using the resources they contribute through the Pork Checkoff to help all producers succeed."

The meeting begins Wednesday evening with a roundtable discussion of industry challenges and opportunities. On Thursday, the focus is on specific Oklahoma issues, priorities and programs. Also included that day is a tour of Lopez Foods, a major pork processor for quick-service restaurants.

Among the items on the board's working agenda for Friday are:

• A discussion of new and emerging production technologies and how to measure the potential impact of those technologies on consumer purchasing decisions.

• A final report from the producer-led task force that has been reviewing the relationship between the national and state pork organizations.

• A planning session for the annual Pork Industry Forum, scheduled for March 4-5 in Phoenix.

• Discussion of a proposal to require PQA Plus® certification for any producer serving on a Pork Checkoff committee.

• A report on European Union pork production issues and the impact those issues might have on U.S. production.

• A discussion of the results from the recently completed annual survey of producer attitudes on a variety of topics.

Meetings of the National Pork Board are open to the public. Those wishing to attend are asked to contact Lorraine Garner, lgarner@pork.org, (515) 223-2600.

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. The Pork Checkoff funds national and state programs in advertising, consumer information, retail and foodservice marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, technology, swine health, pork safety and environmental management. For information on Checkoff-funded programs, pork producers can call the Pork Checkoff Service Center at (800) 456-7675 or go to pork.org.

Source: National Pork Board