Alert: Family Farm Pork Producers, Take Action Today

If you are a family farm pork producer, your action is needed before January 2.

The USDA (under the cover of Christmas) is asking pork producers if they want to vote on the pork checkoff. If 15% of producers request it, a vote will be held within one year. You can read more here.

The form producers need to fill out and mail along with a feed bill or other proof of production can be found at the USDA website, or more easily here: The proof of production must be from 2007. This is a vote of 2007 hog producers.

Send or deliver your completed form to your county FSA office before Jan 2.

Time is short but the internet is fast. Fill our your form today and send this alert to others.

Since the mandatory checkoff began, hundreds of millions of dollars has been collected by the National Pork Board from producers while the number of independent hog farmers plummeted. The National Pork Producers Council, with close historical and operating ties the National Pork Board, has supported vertical integration and packer ownership of livestock and has blocked legislation that will make markets open and fair for independent family farms. The checkoff has not benefited small family farms.

Pork producers have been through this election once before. They triumphed at the ballot box, and lost amidst political gamesmanship in Washington. A new administration and new leadership at USDA creates hope for a fair handling of the vote this time. All checkoffs should be democratically controlled by producers.

For a history on the battle to end the pork checkoff visit:
Center for Rural Affairs, Corporate Farming Notes
Land Stewardship Project, Pork Checkoff Campaign

If you are not a hog farmer yourself, please send this to farmers you know.

Updated December 16th with additional details regarding the relationship between the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers.

Update 2: Don’t miss the comments on this post, and visit U.S. Food Policy for another post on this topic.

12 Replies to “Alert: Family Farm Pork Producers, Take Action Today”

  1. If I recall the checkoff vote last time was requested by a petition drive that lasted months. It was led by some farm organizations. The law must have been changed to let the USDA control the timeline in the way they are now doing. If this 30 day period is too little to get 10,000 signatures . . . .well, How About That? No vote.

    Don’t expect to get notified again about this vote. The NPPC/USDA real goal here is to avoid a vote.

  2. Just to set the record straight: The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) does NOT receive Checkoff funds; it is a voluntary organization that protects the livelihoods of ALL of the country’s 67,000 pork producers by fighting for reasonable legislation and regulation.

    NPPC supports the right of producers of any size to market their hogs through any legal arrangement, including contracts with packers. It opposes efforts by government to restrict contracts and to dictate on-farm production practices and hog sales. NPPC also supports free trade agreements, which this year added more than $40 to the price producers received for each hog marketed — a significant amount considering that, on average, producers are losing nearly $35 a head. NPPC opposes legislation and regulation that would lead to the demise of any pork producer.

    The National Pork Board administers the Checkoff program, putting funds paid by pork producers to good use. Among other things, it uses the funds to promote U.S. pork domestically and internationally to great success. U.S. pork exports in 2008 were at record levels and helped U.S. pork producers offset some of their increased costs of production, which resulted from higher feed grain prices. The pork board also uses Checkoff funds to advance critical research on swine diseases and on the swine genome and to implement a swine identification system that will help ensure herd health and keep foreign export markets open to U.S. pork in the event of a disease outbreak in this country. Its knowledgeable staff also supplies the scientific arguments against efforts by lawmakers and organizations to severely restrict (even abolish) production agriculture.

  3. Now let me correct Jerry’s post. It is NOT the goal of “NPPC/USDA” to avoid a vote on the Checkoff. Once again, NPPC has nothing to do with the Checkoff.

    The Checkoff is administered by the National Pork Board.

  4. I read Dave Warner’s comments with astonishment. Is this the same Dave Warner who is a director of communication for the National Pork Producers Council?!

    Dave writes, “The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) does NOT receive Checkoff funds.”

    That astonished me, because I thought the NPPC received millions of dollars in checkoff funds each year as a contractor to the checkoff program, carrying out checkoff-sponsored activities. In addition, I thought the NPPC in 2006 won an especially sweet backroom deal, in which the checkoff program agreed to pay the NPPC $60 million ($3 million each year for 20 years!) — with no work required at all — for the use of the property rights to the “other white meat” brand. I thought this deal was dreadful from the point of view of pork producers, because they had themselves already paid for most of the advertising that built the “other white meat” brand. And I thought it was a travesty that nobody at the NPPC, the checkoff, or the USDA would share with the public the dubious “appraisal” on which this sale was based.

    See this link for details:

    Dave writes, “NPPC has nothing to do with the Checkoff.”

    That astonished me, because I thought the NPPC was a major player in the deal that overturned the democratic outcome of the last pork referendum in 2001, when pork producers failed to approve the continuation of the checkoff and yet are still to this day forced to pay the “mandatory assessment” (please, nobody call it a “tax,” even though it is collected involuntarily using the federal government’s powers of taxation). The NPPC was one of the parties to the “agreement” with the checkoff and USDA which ended a lawsuit over the 2001 referendum and led belatedly to the current request for producer input.

    See this link for details of how the NPPC was involved in that agreement:

    I think of the NPPC and the checkoff as closer to each other than tweedledee and tweedledum, with just the thinnest veneer of official separation.

  5. Mr. Warner, are you saying that the NPPC has not received ANY checkoff dollars? Not one? Ever?

    John Crabtree

  6. Mr. Warner… or, perhaps I’ll call you Dave since you are on a first name basis with Jerry.

    Another question, since the National Pork Board has never given a single checkoff dollar to NPPC, have the NPB ever given anything of value to NPPC?

    John Crabtree

  7. Dave, to be more specific, when NPPC and their for profit subsidiary Validus billed America’s Clean Water Foundation approximately $1.25 million in licensing fees for the use of an environmental assessment programs that was developed with checkoff funds and rights to which were granted to NPPC and Validus at no charge, wouldn’t that be something of value that NPPC got from the checkoff?

  8. “NPPC opposes legislation and regulation that would lead to the demise of any pork producer.”
    Dave Warner, 2008

    Given the statistics on the numbers of hog farms listed below, I would respectfully submit that perhaps the NPPC, the Pork Board, and any other organization claiming to represent hog producers should shut up and go home. All of the “mainstream” organizations, like NPPC, are failing miserably. In fact, you are failing so miserably that I fail to see the point of even debating the true definition of “production agriculture” or any other hog industry point. Clearly, your organization is simply awful at achieving its goal of helping farmers or producers or whatever you want to call them. The numbers speak for themselves.

    So get rid of the checkoff, the NPPC, the Pork Board, the whatevers. These organizations that have accepted and propagated the free market no-regulation-at-all form of agriculture for the past 3 decades have presided over the staggering destruction of family farming and rural communities. And for what? So you can administer checkoff dollars and INVENT THE GODDAMN MCRIB. Y’all should be proud.

    From National Hog Farmer, 2005:
    The number of U.S. hog farms declined last year for the 24th consecutive year, according to University of Missouri agricultural economist Ron Plain.

    There were 69,420 hog operations in the United States in 2004, based on data from the Agriculture Department’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

    That number is 4,300 fewer than in 2003 and 591,130 fewer than in 1980, the last year in which the number of hog farms increased, says Plain.

  9. I was going to weigh in here with the failure of the Pork Board and NPPC to protect the interests of any but the very largest mega-confinement operations that spew noxious fumes and poison the water, pay pitiful wages, decimate rural communities, and generally make a mess of things. But I see that Dan has beat me to it.

    The numbers speak for themselves. NPPC does not “protects the livelihoods of ALL of the country’s 67,000 pork producers”, because it didn’t protect the interest of ALL the country’s 600,000 pork producers.

    Dave Warner has convinced himself of his organizations own false propaganda. Good thing we have facts to believe instead.

  10. Just to add another fact to Dan’s statistics, the Pork Act, which created the mandatory checkoff and the National Pork Board passed in 1986 – so a vast majority of those 591,000 hog farmers went out of business after the checkoff arrived on the scene to save them all.

  11. He won’t come back. He doesn’t want to keep the discussion alive. He wants us to forget to send in our request for a vote.

    Besides, he sees he needs more than boilerplate responses now that he’s got knowledgeable critics to address. Maybe his silence is a way of conceding that they are right.

    It’s worth it to him to get egg on his face if he can let this topic die and keep the checkoff flowing.

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