Bolstered by market research that shows the new Pork Be inspired campaign is having a positive impact on consumer attitudes, more than 50 pork producers will meet in Des Moines Sept. 7-8 to draft a 2012 budget for the National Pork Board that is expected to maintain a strong focus on getting consumers to eat more pork.
The 50-plus producers from throughout the country who make up the Plan of Work Task Force will continue a planning and budgeting process that began earlier this summer when producer-led committees identified specific action steps designed to meet the goals in the board's strategic plan. Those goals include:
• Refresh and reposition pork's image to increase domestic and international consumer demand.
• Protect the rights and ability of U.S. farmers to produce pork in a socially-responsible and cost-competitive manner.
• Pursue strategies to enable U.S. pork producers to remain highly competitive, long term, on a global basis.
Based on revenue projections from the Pork Checkoff in 2012, the board has established a budget target of $69.3 million. The board anticipates spending $69.9 million in 2011.
"Despite continuing high operating costs, this year has been a very good one for hog prices," said Everett Forkner, a pork producer from Richards, Mo., and president of the National Pork Board. "We expect prices to remain strong in 2012, which means we will have a strong revenue stream coming in through the Pork Checkoff.
"Our challenge as board members is to strike an appropriate balance between those things that can help pork producers now, while at the same time planning both for the future and for unplanned emergencies and contingencies. That's why the board earlier this summer established a policy of maintaining the equivalent of two-months of expenses in reserves.
"As a result of that policy, our spending in 2012 will look very much like the current year."
The producer committees that oversee foreign and domestic marketing, science and technology, and producer education and services each make budget requests for specific tactics. The Plan of Work Task Force will be asked to align the committees' spending requests with the board's budget target.
"It's not an easy job," Forkner said. "Each year we get a number of deserving requests that simply ask for more money than we have. Deciding which ones get into the budget and which ones don't always makes for some interesting debate among producers. The difficulty of making those decisions also highlights why we are demanding measurement and accountability on all our spending."
The producers on the Task Force are selected to represent the diversity of U.S. pork production. The group includes all 15 board members as well as representatives of the board's eight producer-led committees and pork producers who represent differing geographic regions and production styles. There also will be a representative of pork importers, who contribute to the Pork Checkoff.
Consumer perspectives of pork and pork production continue to be a central focus of the new budget. The board in 2011 committed additional resources to improve the perception of pork. The Pork Be inspired campaign that was launched in April featured the first national television advertising of pork in more than five years, as well as a significant print and online advertising.
The early results of that effort, based on a scientific tracking study of more than 1,000 consumers nationally, have found that consumers who have seen the new campaign report they are consuming more pork as a result. Another tracking study will be conducted in November to see if the early results continued through the spring and summer months.
Another major emphasis in the 2012 budget is a continuation of work to help consumers better understand and appreciate modern agriculture. The National Pork Board has been a major supporter of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, a group of more than 50 farm organizations and businesses dedicated to helping answer consumers' questions about how their food is raised.
The board this year also is being asked to provide financial support for a pork production educational center that is being proposed as an addition to a similar dairy initiative at Fair Oaks, Ind. Additional proposals in the budget advance the work of the pork industry's We Care initiative and fund research that can address significant social, economic, and production concerns facing the pork industry.
The final step in the 2012 budgeting process is scheduled for November, when the National Pork Board meets to review the Task Force recommendations. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has final budget approval.
The National Pork Board will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday, ahead of the Plan of Work meeting, to prepare for the meeting and to handle a number of business items. The board is expected to:
• Hear a report on a management review conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service.
• Consider a request to add a new producer-led committee focusing on public health and worker safety.
• Review the results of a new Checkoff-funded study of the financial impact of Porcine Respiratory and Reproductive Syndrome on U.S. producers.
• Review the results of the tracking study on the new pork marketing campaign.
Meetings of the National Pork Board are open to the public. Those wishing to attend are asked to contact Lorraine Garner, [email protected], (515) 223-2600.