The National Pork Board at its November meeting approved a 2006 strategic plan and budget that calls for spending $48.8 million in Pork Checkoff revenue to address the nine critical pork industry issues identified earlier by the board. The budget and plan now go to the U.S. secretary of agriculture for final approval.
The board is recommending that $20.6 million, approximately half of the program budget, be used to promote domestic demand for pork. That effort involves a number of strategies, including continuation for the second year of a new marketing and advertising program focused on the tagline "Donâ€™t be blah."
Danita Rodibaugh, president of the National Pork Board and a pork producer from Rensselaer, Ind., reported to board members that early research results from the first year of the program indicate the program is successfully changing the purchasing and cooking habits of its target audience â€“ women under the age of 40.
Those efforts in 2005 have resulted in an 8% growth in the number of pork items featured by the foodservice industry. The budget also calls for market research, continued emphasis on promoting pork with Hispanic consumers, continuation of the Pork Racing program and additional efforts to inform consumers about the nutritional benefits of pork.
Other critical issues identified by the board in the 2006 strategic plan include: the early identification and management of issues; the transfer and deployment of knowledge to producers; developing partnerships and alliances inside and outside the pork industry; improving the overall image of the pork industry; resolution of the swine welfare issue with customers; developing a long-range strategy for U.S. Pork exports; continuing to develop the industryâ€™s future leaders, and finding answers to the odor issue.
Additionally, the board earmarked approximately $10.5 million for state pork organizations to conduct their own promotion, research and consumer information programs. The board approved the state budgets.
"This is a very aggressive plan that builds on the success of our new planning process," says Rodibaugh, "Beginning last year, we decided to build our plan and budget from scratch each year. The board meets in June to identify what it sees as the critical industry issues for the next year. At that point, we involve several hundred producers from all over the country to help us develop the strategies and tactics that help us decided how to allocate Pork Checkoff resources to attack those critical issues.
"The end result is a producer-driven process that works to increase the competitiveness and opportunities for all U.S. pork producers."
Rodibaugh says the 2006 budget is built on an industry forecast that suggests 104.2 million hogs will be marketed at a live weight average of 271 pounds. And market prices are expected to average between $42.50 and $45.80 per hundredweight. From the sale of their hogs, U.S. pork producers contribute four-tenths of one% to the pork checkoff.
The board also gave its approval for three research projects designed to help provide producers with the tools to address the porcine respiratory and reproduction syndrome in their herds. All three projects involve work to improve vaccination strategies.
The board also approved a $220,000 project to help prevent or respond to an especially virulent form of porcine postweaning multi-systemic wasting syndrome. The outbreak was first discovered in Quebec and is now being seen in Ontario. PMWS is a disease syndrome of weaned piglets â€“ and now also in pigs of market weight â€“ with clinical signs that include progressive weight loss, jaundice and high mortality rates.