WASHINGTON, D.C.– In a letter sent to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the National Pork Producers Council said it is puzzled and disappointed with the secretary’s recent appointments to the National Pork Board.
The National Pork Board, with which NPPC works closely, administers the federal checkoff program for the U.S. pork industry. The program was set up by Congress through the Pork Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act of 1985, or Pork Act. The National Pork Board’s 15-member board, which is responsible for making checkoff funding and program decisions, is chosen by the Secretary of Agriculture based on nominations received from the Pork Act delegate body, whose members also are appointed by the secretary.
Historically the candidates eligible for service on the National Pork Board are ranked in priority order by Pork Act delegates at the annual National Pork Industry Forum, and traditionally the secretary has respected the will of the delegates.
Vilsack in early June rejected two of the top five of eight candidates, including one from North Carolina, put forth by the Pork Act delegates. There were five vacancies to fill.
“We recognize the efforts to ensure the Board reflects the vast diversity and dynamics of our industry,” said NPPC President Sam Carney in the letter to Vilsack, “but cannot understand how an entire region of the country can be overlooked, particularly since a candidate from the region was highly recommended by your own delegates.”
In the letter, NPPC pointed out that pork producers in North Carolina, the second largest pork producing state, contributed more than 10 percent of the checkoff funds in 2009.
NPPC said it would categorize Vilsack’s decision as “puzzling and disappointing to pork producers” and asked the secretary to share his perspective on the matter.