In the Game…

A Letter from Your President:

Pork producers historically haven’t been the wait-and-see types that sit on the sidelines. Not at all. Instead, for over five decades, U.S. pig farmers like you and me have been working together to make big things happen, or as in the case of 2019, to make big things NOT happen. You probably can guess that I’m referring to the massive, collaborative effort to keep African swine fever (ASF) from reaching the U.S. pig herd.

We’ve seen the devastation ASF has caused in China and in more than 50 other countries. The Pork Checkoff and its industry partners have dug in, taking a multitude of aggressive measures to protect the health and well-being of our pigs. This has included reminders to step up biosecurity measures on our farms and at pig shows, along with key research on everything from the risks of imported feedstuffs to which U.S. ports pose the greatest risk for ASF’s entry.

Meanwhile, the Pork Checkoff continues to collaborate with state and federal animal health officials to protect our nation’s swine herd. The Checkoff and the rest of the collaborative team have developed action plans and participated in crisis drills to answer the “what-if” questions if ASF should be found here. As producers, we need to be prepared to participate in the Secure Pork Supply plan, which means having premises ID numbers. The plan is designed to help us return to business as usual more quickly, and that would definitely be a good thing.

As for the last year’s “make-things-happen” efforts, the Checkoff released three ground-breaking Insights to Action consumer research reports. Our pork channel partners are using the comprehensive findings to refine how they connect with their customers to promote pork – a win-win. We also ended the year with U.S. pork exports setting new volume and value records despite some trade agreement hurdles. We worked with the U.S. Meat Export Federation to grow sales to established customers and to fuel the demand for U.S. pork in developing markets. The Pork 2040: China Market Assessment yielded powerful data and will be followed up by analysis of other key markets.

Closer to home, my family joined with other U.S. pig farmers in recommitting ourselves to following the We CareSM ethical principles on our farms and in our communities. When we talk about doing what’s best for people, pigs and the planet, pig farmers really mean it. Today, it’s critical that we share our sustainability progress and bring it to life by daily example and through research data.

And finally in 2019, a task force of pork industry representatives and the board of directors, with input from hundreds of producers, took the Pork Checkoff in a bold new direction through an entirely new Pork Checkoff vision, structure and operations plan. Our consumer-focused, producer-led Checkoff will focus on two overarching goals – building trust and adding value. The goal is to keep pork relevant and competitive in domestic and global markets. You’ll hear much more about this in the coming months, but I, for one, am excited.

New decade. New vision. New streamlined structure. New opportunities. I look forward to what’s to come in 2020 and beyond.

David Newman

2019 pork checkoff annual report