The annual business meeting for the National Pork Producers Council is always a busy one, as producer delegates sift through proposed resolutions to set working priorities for the association. This year, nearly 50 resolutions were discussed during the two days of the National Pork Industry Forum, March 7-8 in Dallas, Texas.

However, NPPC’s funding needs kept surfacing as the most critical action for the association to address.

Following the USDA-directed division of NPPC and the National Pork Board, NPPC took on the public policy and advocacy issues for the U.S. pork industry. This includes local, state and federal legislative and regulatory activities. It also includes such things as animal rights, antibiotic and environmental issues as well as trade negotiations, and much more.

While exact numbers are hard to come by, Neil Dierks, NPPC’s chief executive officer, reports that the association’s minimal 2003 budget is pegged at $2.8 million—half of which stays with NPPC, the other half goes to state pork producer associations. He says if you evaluate critical issues that need to be addressed, NPPC could be and probably should be spending $6 million to $11 million annually.

NPPC receives only voluntary funds. In 2002, pork packers and processors contributed $650,000; the Pork Alliance, allied industry group gave $360,000; and the newly developed Producer Consent program, totaling producer contributions at $303,000. World Pork Expo brings in around $1.2 million and there’s about $100,000 that comes in annually from facility rent and other assets.

Recently, NPPC introduced the Producer Consent program where pork producers, contract growers, employees and others can contribute. For producers, the rate is 10 cents per $100 value for each market hog sold. Dierks says, however, that this year NPPC will need at least 28 million market hogs (about 28 percent of total hogs marketed) contribute via the Producer Consent program if the Council is to meet its budget. For the first two months of 2003, only about 1.5 percent of the market hogs sold have contributed.

“Each month that we miss that goal, we have to increase our percentage contributed in the remaining months,” says Dierks.

Numerous delegates spoke to the importance of NPPC’s work and the funding commitment needed. They also challenged fellow producers to participate in the Consent program and to go home and motivate others to participate. Howard Schoenfeld, a Minnesota producer, wrote a $100 check and challenged fellow NPPC and NPB delegates do the same before they left for home. 

The delegates did address funding through a few resolutions. They reduced the state’s share of the Producer Consent contribution from 50 percent to 25 percent, which means NPPC will receive 75 percent of the total. This is for 2003 only as an attempt to boost cash flow. Also, states are encouraged to increase their additional contributions to NPPC by 100 percent.

In terms of other resolutions that the delegates addressed, here’s a summary of some those that the delegates’ approved.

  • NPPC request Congress and the USDA Secretary to discontinue the monthly Hogs and Pigs Report as soon as possible.
  • Aggressively address animal welfare issues, and work with other compatible organizations to enhance agriculture’s image.
  • Work to provide direct and indirect access to legal assistance for regulatory, environmental, nuisance and related issues, and pursue developing a legal defense fund.
  • Support all producers’ right to market access regardless of operation size or production type. Also, to support a congressional study on market access, packer ownership and packing and production concentration.
  • Pursue a repeal of the mandatory country-of-origin labeling legislation.
  • Petition Congress and USDA to add swine to any future livestock disaster programs.
  • Request USDA to include an estimate of all hogs and pigs on the North American continent in the quarterly Hogs and Pigs Report.
  • Support and promote sound science in terms of the decision-making and policy development on antibiotic/antimicrobial use in food-animal production.

Finally, NPPC delegates matched the Pork Act Delegates’ resolution to organize a joint task force of the two groups to evaluate the prospect of creating a single industry organization, and to report with a recommendation at the 2004 Pork Industry Forum.