National Pork Board members will meet July 13 to begin planning for the  2011 budget. They will review revenue projections from the pork checkoff and set a spending target for the new budget year. The meeting will take place during the three-day National Pork Industry Conference at Wisconsin Dells, Wis.

The board, under the leadership of newly elected president Gene Nemechek, will welcome four new pork producer members recently appointed to three-years terms by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack: Julie Maschoff from Carlyle, Ill.; Derrick Sleezer from Cherokee, Iowa; Wathina Luthi from Gage, Okla.; and Steve Wuergler from Drain, Ore.

The board also will pay tribute to four retiring board members: Tim Bierman, a Larrabee, Iowa, producer who as the immediate past president remains on the board for one year as a non-voting member; Steve Weaver of Elk Grove, Calif.; Bruce Samson of Three Forks, Mont.; and Henry Moore of Clinton, N.C.

The U.S. pork industry financial picture is much improved from one year ago when sharply lower hog prices prompted board members to set a 2010 spending target of $46.2 million, approximately 20 percent lower than the 2009 budget. Pork checkoff revenues are tied directly to the market price received by producers.

"Pork producers responded to those lower prices by reducing the size of the national herd," said Nemechek, a swine veterinarian from Springdale, Ark. "As a result, prices have rebounded and that should allow us to develop a budget more in line with our traditional planning and spending."

At the same time, Nemechek said, there are several major new initiatives in planning stages to address goals in the board's new five-year strategic plan, adopted earlier this year. "During 2011, we intend to launch a major effort to reposition pork in the consumer marketplace. And there are some exciting discussions under way with other major players in U.S. production agriculture about a national campaign to improve the public's understanding of 21st century agriculture.

"Both of those could require a significant investment of pork checkoff resources," Nemechek said, while at the same time we'll be asked to support the research, education and other programs that producers value. "Board members have some difficult decisions in front of them before we finish work on this budget in November."

Also on the board's agenda:

  • A report from the task force studying the board's producer committee structure. The task force is one of three groups studying specific recommendations in the new strategic plan.
  • An update on the board's international marketing work.
  • An update on a revised policy handbook for board members.
  • Discussion of a proposal to provide non-voting board representation to regions of the country without members on the board.

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.