Producer delegates for the National Pork Producers Council also met during the National Pork Industry Forum in Denver, Colo., this past weekend. Among the many issues addressed, the delegates approved a resolution directing the organization to develop a voluntary “checkoff” program for pork producers.

The directive is to create a program whereby a producer would sign a consent card with his/her packer to deduct $0.10/$100 value per market hog sold. Half of the money collected within the state would return to the state’s pork association, the other half would go to NPPC. In both cases, the funds would be used for legislative, public policy and advocacy activities. As a “needs assessment” NPPC Executive Director Neil Dierks presented a forecasted budget of $7.36 million.

“NPPC has never used checkoff dollars for lobbying and legislative activities,” noted Barb Determan, outgoing NPPC president. “We lost efficiencies with the (USDA-directed) split of NPPC and the National Pork Board. Producers used to be able to wear two hats.” That also was true for some staff members, now divided between NPPC and NPB.

“Not having World Pork Expo last year also hurt us,” said Determan. NPPC can use only non-checkoff dollars to fund its work. Such revenue sources include: allied industry, packer/processor and other voluntary contributions; rent from the Des Moines office that NPB occupies; assessments from state producer groups; funds generated by Environmental Management Systems.

Defending the national pork checkoff burdened NPPC’s budget, even though it could use no checkoff funds in the process. NPB can only work to educate people about the checkoff; it can not come to its legal or political defense– that falls under NPPC’s jurisdiction.

Due to its voluntary nature, participation estimates in this newly proposed checkoff range from 30 percent to 50 percent of producers, at least in the early years. New NPPC President, Dave Roper, believes contributions would come from 70 percent of the nation’s hogs.

“There’s been an increased need in recent years in the legislative, policy and advocacy areas,” said Determan. She identified animal welfare, antibiotic resistance and environmental issues as industry priorities.

NPPC is redesigning its organizational structure, which will include a membership-fee structure that will generate funds as well.

Specific details for the voluntary checkoff are yet to be worked out, in particular whether feeder or weaned pigs, seedstock or other hog sales transactions would be included in the program.

While the delegates indicated the “immediate” need to get contributions started, NPPC officials weren’t sure whether detailed program information would be ready by World Pork Expo. Some delegates did donate contributions before leaving Pork Forumn.