Rayne Pegg, the new administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service, will meet with members of the National Pork Board on Nov. 9, the first day of the board's autumn meeting in Des Moines. AMS oversees the work of the National Pork Board.

"This is a great opportunity for us to get acquainted and to help the new administrator better understand how the National Pork Board uses the Pork Checkoff to address issues of importance to U.S. pork producers," said Tim Bierman, an Iowa pork producer who is president of the board. "It is especially important that we help her  understand how we're using the Checkoff right now to market pork to help producers get through the current economic crisis."

During its three-day meeting, the board will give its final approval to the 2010 Plan of Work and Budget, review a new five-year strategic plan developed by a board-appointed producer task force, and discuss a proposal to develop a new brand position for The Other White Meat.

The board also will complete work on a budget that Bierman describes as looking "very different" from recent budgets. He said the 2010 budget, once approved by the board and the USDA, is expected to be 26 percent smaller than what the board plans to spend in 2009, reflecting lower hog prices that are not expected to improve measurably until the second half of 2010.

The board's budget task force has recommended reducing the $46.2 million budget set for 2010 to $44.1 million, Bierman said. Board spending during 2009 will be approximately $59.4 million, he said.

"With a reduction of that size, it's obvious that many of the programs we have now either must be eliminated or scaled back," Bierman said. "As painful as that might be, we all recognize the pain our fellow producers have experienced during the last two years because of high input costs and, more recently, low hog prices. At the same time, there are things we absolutely must do next year. And one of those things is to be sure we are helping to move product. This budget will reflect that."

Source: NPB