Industry Accused of Using Funds to Lobby Government29 November 2012
US - The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has filed a complaint with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Inspector General seeking an investigation into the National Pork Board’s potential use of federal checkoff dollars to support the National Pork Producers Council’s lobbying efforts.
The HSUS complaint comes as NPPC is holding its annual Pork Action Group meeting in Marco Island, Florida, a meeting that records indicate has been annually supported in part with Pork Board funds and participation.
The Pork Board, which collects funds from pork producers through the legally mandated Pork Checkoff program, is prohibited by federal law from spending these funds to influence legislation or government policy.
Nevertheless, records obtained by HSUS reveal annual purchase orders from the Pork Board to sponsor and participate in NPPC Alliance program activities. The Alliance program is described by NPPC as dedicated exclusively to lobbying and other legislative efforts.
“The National Pork Producers Council lobbies for large factory farms at the expense of family farms and animal welfare and appears to be using federal checkoff dollars to advance its extreme agenda,” says says Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at The HSUS.
“If checkoff funds have been illegally diverted to lobbying, USDA should take swift action to ensure America’s pig farmers are not footing the bill for the pork industry’s high-priced lobbyists.”
The council’s website publicly identifies the Pork Board as an Alliance Partner—a membership status that requires $20,000 in annual dues. Alliance program funds are then used to support NPPC’s extensive lobbying activities.
The NPPC recently used its lobbying dollars to try to block the egg industry’s efforts to establish a uniform, nationwide set of standards to improve the treatment of egg-laying hens, the Humane Society have said.
National Pork Board's response
The National Pork Board is not a member of the Pork Alliance. The board sponsors a dinner at the fall meeting of the Alliance to give the board the opportunity to get in front a large and influential audience of Checkoff-paying pork producers to showcase pork products and to talk about National Pork Board program and activities.
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