AASV Pork Producer Partnerssm activities

Who will lead the charge on NPPC -directed producer educational activities if the pork checkoff referendum is defeated?

The news flash from the January 11, 2001 issue of Feedstuffs stated that Secretary of Agriculture, Dan Glickman, had announced the defeat of the pork checkoff. The results of the referendum, conducted between August 18 and September 21, 2000, were 14,396 votes for continuing the checkoff program, and 15,951 votes against. "This outcome demonstrates that the pork checkoff program does not have the support of the producers it serves and therefore cannot fulfill its stated purpose," said Glickman. He also said that he would be directing the Agricultural Marketing Service to prepare and issue a final rule to terminate the order and the program conducted under it. The pork checkoff has been in effect since 1988. The NPPC has said it will contest the referendum results.

According to the National Pork Board (Pork Report, Fall 2000), 63% of pork checkoff funds were directed at promotional efforts (such as the Other White Meat campaign), 13% toward consumer information, and 24% toward research and education activities.

One of the most successful educational programs funded by pork checkoff dollars has been the NPPC's Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) Program. The PQA Program has helped to ensure that our pork supply continues to be the safest and most wholesome in the world. In the year 2000, four million pork checkoff dollars were directed toward funding swine health, pork quality, and pork safety research and programs.

Swine veterinarians have long been involved in helping their producers understand and address PQA and Pork Safety issues. In 1997, the AASV (then AASP) formally joined the NPPC's PQA Partner Program, later renamed the Pork Producer Partners Program (J Swine Health Prod, July-August 1997). The 'Partner' Program began as a way to enlist the help of pork allied industries in encouraging producers to complete the PQA Program, and was later expanded to include programs such as Pork Safety, Animal Welfare, the Environmental Assurance Program, and others. What will happen to the PQA Program and these other educational programs if the pork checkoff funding is gone and the role of NPPC in these efforts becomes uncertain? Pork Quality Assurance cannot be allowed to go by the wayside with the demise of pork checkoff funding.

This column was begun in 1997 by the AASV's Public Relations Committee when AASV became an official PQA Partner, and has continued in each issue of JSHAP. Its purpose is to inform AASV members about our organization's PQA and producer educational activities, and to recognize AASV members who give that 'extra effort' in promoting PQA. Additionally, it has served to stimulate PQA promotional ideas for others to emulate. If the pork checkoff ends, the NPPC's PQA Program and other checkoff-funded efforts will be in question, and the continuance of the Pork Producer Partner Program doubtful. It seems appropriate that the current column be the last unless the AASV and its membership believe it is their responsibility to oversee the PQA, Pork Safety, Animal Welfare Program, and other producer educational efforts. Please direct your thoughts or comments on this issue to Dr. Tom Burkgren at the AASV office.

-- contributed by Dr. Teddi Wolff,
AASV Public Relations Committee