US - Since 2002, the National Pork Board has conducted an annual survey of pork producers to gain insight to the condition of the industry, general attitudes of pig farming and their support of the Checkoff. The most recent survey was conducted in November 2014 and shows great optimism.
For the fifth consecutive year, pork producer support for the Checkoff has increased to 89 per cent - up two percentage points from last year's results.
Meanwhile, opposition to the Checkoff declined one percent to a low of five per cent. These results are the most positive in survey history. Other survey highlights include:
- Right direction / wrong track: 83 per cent of producers feel the industry is heading "in the right direction," growing from a 2013 score of 75 per cent. Of those surveyed, nine per cent feel the industry is "on the wrong track," dropping from a 2013 score of 13 per cent.
- Support for the Checkoff and general optimism of the industry is strongest among larger producers, or those that marketed more than 20,000 pigs in the past year.
- The biggest overall challenge facing producers is managing hog health and disease. A recently announced $15 million investment in a Swine Health Information Center directly addresses this concern.
- The single most important thing the Checkoff can do to help their operation is to educate consumers about the safety of pork.
"Educating consumers about the safety of pork is a shift from previous years' results when top-of-mind desires were focused first and foremost on advertising and marketing pork," said Dale Norton, president of the Pork Checkoff and a producer from Bronson, Mich.
"This change stems from the increasing conversations that people are having about food production."
That sentiment was also evident in embarking on the National Pork Board's recent five-year strategic planning process. The stated goals of the new plan resonate with producers.
On a 10-point scale:
- Build Consumer Trust rated a mean score of 8.85 - the highest result and growing to 9.05 among large producers.
- Grow Consumer Demand rated a mean score of 8.39.
- Drive sustainable production rated a mean score of 7.86.
"This tells the Board that the development of our strategic plan is in synch with the concerns, interests and thoughts of producers," Mr Norton said.
The survey is based on phone interviews with 550 producers this past November.
ThePigSite News Desk