Based on first-hand observation of the ballot counting, the Campaign for Family Farms say that it looks like the votes of independent hog farmers have made the mandatory pork checkoff a thing of the past.
According to a farmer who monitored the counting of ballots, hog producers favored ending the checkoff two to one, in counties where they witnessed the vote count.
On Nov. 29, hog farmers traveled to their Farm Service Agency offices to watch the counting of ballots cast in the mandatory pork checkoff referendum, as allowed by referendum rules. The referendum will decide the future of the pork checkoff, a tax every hog farmer must pay on each hog they sell. The Campaign for Family Farms (CFF), a national coalition of state-based farm organizations, led the effort to end the mandatory pork checkoff.
"The counting we witnessed in Minnesota looks very good," said independent hog farmer Monica Kahout, a spokesperson for CFF and a member of the Land Stewardship Project. "We had members watching the ballot counting in several key counties and their reports are showing hog farmers turned out to vote down the checkoff."
In Iowa, the state with the largest number of hog farmers in the country, the unofficial tallies also look good to producers who want to end the pork tax. "We are rolling up big numbers in some of the largest hog farmer counties in the state," said independent hog producer Dale Leslien, a CFF spokesperson and member of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. "The National Pork Producers Council announced that they have approved a $51 million budget for the coming year. The way things are looking, I wonder where they plan to get that money?"