The National Pork Board is moving forward with the transition process of taking over the day-to-day management of the national pork checkoff program.

After putting together a transition team headed by NPB president John Kellogg, the group begins searching for a permanent chief executive officer and chief financial officer. Since this process could take three to four months, the team hired interim directors for those positions. RSM McGladrey, a business consulting firm and wholly owned subsidiary of H&R Block, will serve as the interim director/CEO to oversee NPB operations, while Kurt Johnson, a Des Moines, Iowa, native with extensive experience in the pharmaceutical industry, is the interim CFO.

With these interim directors in place, Kellogg says they can concentrate on selecting a search firm to help hire a permanent CEO and CFO. The transition team has narrowed its choices of serach firms and are planning interviews to get one hired.

“I think we’re making excellent progress to get the positions filled,” contends Kellogg. “It’s important that we had USDA approval on filling the interim positions.”

Along with hiring a CEO and CFO, there are many other issues to work out. For starters, getting staff members put on NPB payroll, along with their insurance and other benefits. They hope to have this process complete by the end of June. “I’m pleased with the cooperation between staff members at NPB and the National Pork Producers Council in making sure the move is smooth and we won’t miss any services that we provide for producers,” adds Kellogg.

The NPB also is holding producer listening posts in different states. They are working with state producer organizations to line up meetings allowing pork producers to voice their comments about the checkoff programs.

So far, sessions have been held in Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota. Overall, the NPB is receiving a wide variety of comments from meeting attendees. Some were favorable, others had concerns about how the checkoff programs were being run, and there are still some producers who haven’t accepted that NPPC and USDA have reached a settlement agreement continuing the checkoff.

Two of the first listening posts were conducted at regularly scheduled meetings, while the others were planned by the state producer associations. Once planting is over, NPB plans to hold more of these meetings, plus look at other options at reaching producers.

Right now plans are to conduct two different telephone focus groups. The first focus group with producers who are anti-checkoff and the second with a moderate mix of producers. Plus, they’re looking at meeting with groups outside of state associations, such as producer buying groups.