Working to maintain strong pork demand in the face of rising retail meat prices and continuing challenges to producer profitability, the National Pork Board begins work next week on its 2012 plan and budget. The board will meet Tuesday during the annual Pork Industry Conference at the Wisconsin Dells.
The board begins its planning process each year by assessing market conditions, projecting available Checkoff revenue, then establishing a fiscal year spending target. Economist Steve Meyer, who consults for the board, said barring the unexpected, next year should look much like the current year. "We don't expect much change in supply and given strong demand for pork and strong export demand, prices should remain strong," Meyer said.
This year, the board projects about $72 million in revenue from the Pork Checkoff. Pork producers contribute 0.4 percent of the sales prices each time they sell a hog. Pork importers contribute a similar amount based on sales. In 2011, approximately 108 million hogs will go to market in the United States. The board distributes roughly 20 percent of the Checkoff revenue to state pork organization for their use to promote pork and conduct research and devotes the remainder to national programs in promotion, research and consumer information.
"We reached agreement at our last meeting that we intend to maintain about two months of anticipated revenue in reserve for contingencies and emergencies," said Board President Everett Forkner, a pork producer from Richards, Mo. "So once we agree what 2012 looks like, we should be able to set a reasonable target for 2012 spending. We're committed this year to funding only those projects that are consistent with the strategic plan we approved two years ago. And we're also committed to addressing our management of the pork industry's most pressing issues."
Once the board establishes a spending target, producer-led committees and National Pork Board staff begin building program and budget requests. The staff will present a proposed balanced budget to a task force of 75 producers from across the country in September. Members of the task force review that budget and forward their recommendations to the board for final consideration in November.
For 2012, the board expects to hear requests to continue funding the new Pork® Be inspiredSM branding initiative, which includes national television advertising. Prior to the new campaign, pork had not been promoted on national television since 2006. The board also expects producers to request continued research into feed efficiency and alternative feedstuffs. Projections continue to indicate that record-high feed costs threaten producer profitability.
The Wisconsin meeting will mark the first for new board members Glen Walters of Barnesville, Ga., and Jan Miller of Belden, Neb. Former Board member Henry Moore of Clinton, N.C., also rejoins the board.
In other action, the board is expected to review its participation in the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance. The alliance, made up of more than 40 commodity association and businesses involved in production agriculture, is working to improve consumer trust in today's agriculture and to increase the voice of farmers in public discussions about healthy food for everyone. The board was one of the inaugural funders of the alliance and is represented on the alliance board and executive committee by Dale Norton, a pork producer and National Pork Board member from Bronson, Mich.
The board also will hear updates on the early success of its branding initiative and will continue
work on strengthening its partnership with state pork organizations across the country.