National Pork Board Approves 2008 Budget, Operating Plan

US - The National Pork Board has given its approval to a $51 million budget and operating plan for 2008. It addresses five critical issues facing the US pork industry.
calendar icon 30 November 2007
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The board approved the 2008 budget and plan at its meeting in Des Moines Nov. 13-14. The budget now goes to the US Secretary of Agriculture for final approval.

The approval culminates a four-month planning process that began in July with the 15 producer board members identifying the critical issues. The process also included input from more than 150 producers, many of them members of Pork Checkoff committees.

The five critical issues are: The competitive advantage for US pork; the safeguard and expansion of international markets; domestic pork expenditures; the trust and image of the US pork industry; the development of human capital.

"The 2008 plan combines programs that continue to work for producers with a number of exciting new ideas," said Lynn Harrison, a pork producer from Elk Mound and president of the National Pork Board. "Approximately 20 percent of this budget will go directly to state pork organizations to allow them to conduct their own Checkoff-sponsored activities and to partner with national programs," Harrison said. "On the national level, we have approved 22 new projects representing about $4.8 million of the budget.

Trust and image
A good example of blending the old and the new, Harrison said, came in the trust and image critical issue. "Just a few years ago, that issue was barely on our radar screens. Today, we have more than $5 million dedicated to efforts to build trust with customers and to improve the overall image of the pork industry. That represents nearly 15 percent of our total programming budget and addresses key consumer and customer concerns through programs such as Pork Quality Assurance Plus and Operation Main Street.

A new item in the trust and image area, Harrison noted, is an appropriation that will allow the National Pork Board to work with other pork and agricultural groups and with food-chain partners to help consumers develop a better understanding of modern pork production and how it contributes to a safe, high-quality and reliable source of food. The board also authorized staff to continue its work in finding new ways, including blogging, podcasting and video blogs such as You Tube, to reach young consumers.

"Another promising new program," Harrison said, "is a mobile marketing platform that enables us to introduce our product to millions of consumers at large-scale events, while integrating important marketing disciplines such as advertising, public relations and retail marketing for maximum impact," Harrison said. "This platform allows us to connect producers with target consumers and provides an outlet for states to be more involved in our marketing efforts."

The plan calls for grilling pork and conducting other promotions at events such as auto races, state fairs, food festivals and high-impact sporting events including college and professional football games. "It also gives producers an opportunity to share their product and their personal stories about their farms with an increased number of targeted consumers," Harrison said.

Research in all areas
The 2008 plan and budget continues research efforts in a wide variety of areas including: Porcine Respiratory and Reproductive Syndrome (PRRS); Porcine Circo-Virus Related Diseases (PCVAD); euthanasia procedures; nutritional efficiency, sow longevity, animal well-being; pork safety; environmental practices; and antibiotic use.

The board also added financial support for a genome sequencing research project that is designed to help scientists make specific use of the pig gene sequencing work that has been led by researchers at the University of Illinois the US Department of Agriculture and a consortium of international scientists. The Pork Checkoff helped to get that project started several years ago. The new appropriation continues the board’s support for this important work, Harrison said.

The new plan and budget also maintains the National Pork Board’s commitment to the work of the US Meat Export Federation in building export markets for US Pork. And it continues the national advertising presence for The Other White Meat n Don’t Be Blah program. It also continues the promotional activities that keep pork in front of the nation’s chefs, retail food marketers and restaurant operators.

"Successful organizations constantly look for new ways to improve their services and their products," Harrison said. "I can speak for my 14 fellow producers on the National Pork Board when I say that we believe this plan builds on the success of programs that have worked for pork producers throughout the country while giving us a chance to try to some ideas that we believe will contribute to the profitability of our industry and our producers."

The complete 2008 Operating Plan and Budget will be available at once it is approved by the Secretary of Agriculture.

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