The National Pork Board announced on Thursday, that it is eliminating 18 staff positions in response to a prolonged slump in live-hog prices that has reduced national pork checkoff revenues. The layoffs, from a staff of 96, are effective July 15.

"Many pork producers have been losing money during the past 18 months, which has turned out to be one of the more severe dips in the price cycles ever," says Steven Murphy, NPB's chief executive officer. "Producers have had to take a critical look at their own operations and they expect the same of their checkoff organization."

Pork producers contribute 40 cents per $100 in sales to the checkoff each time they market an animal. NPB uses those funds to build demand through programs such as the "Pork. The Other White Meat" advertising campaign; conduct production and consumer research, and provide education programs for producers and consumers.

Low live-hog prices, coupled with a 5-cent reduction in the checkoff rate approved in 2002, has cut NPB's budget by 17.5 percent in just two years. The budget in 2002 was approximately $57 million; the projected budget for 2004 is $47 million.

Murphy notes that technology advances, including new Internet tools, are helping NPB maintain producer programs with fewer full-time staff. "Our commitment to managing programs with producers’ checkoff investment is, if anything, firmer than ever," he says. "We will strive to work smarter and to continue to seek new ways of doing business that are more efficient, freeing resources for the programs that yield the greatest results for producers."

Background note:

NPB is based in Clive, Iowa. It is responsible for collecting and distributing national pork checkoff funds, which are targeted for pork-industry research, promotion and education. The checkoff funds national and state programs in advertising, consumer information, retail and foodservice marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, technology, swine health and pork safety.

For information about checkoff-funded programs, pork producers can call the NPB Service Center at (800) 456-PORK or check the Internet at www.porkboard.org

National Pork Board