Two more examples of National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) misuse of checkoff funds to influence the vote have been identified by hog farmer members of the Campaign for Family Farms.
Hog farmers state that NPPC's repeated misuse of checkoff funds to influence the checkoff vote demonstrated the lack of accountability of the checkoff. Also, hog farmers are calling on the Agricultural Marketing Service of U.S. Department of Agriculture to suspend checkoff spending until the final results of the referendum are posted.
Hog farmers found out NPPC is proposing to use $12,000 in checkoff funds to air 30-second radio ads promoting the checkoff and emphasizing the benefits of the checkoff program. The commercials will run in the major pork producing areas of Colorado during the absentee voting period.
"It is unconscionable that at the same time producers' share of the retail dollar has dropped from 46 cents to less than 30 cents, NPPC attempts to spend checkoff dollars to influence the upcoming checkoff vote," said Rhonda Perry, Missouri hog farmer and Missouri Rural Crisis Center member. "They can't play by the rules, because they will lose. They know that independent hog farmers will vote to end their mandatory, multi-million dollar tax."
Also, NPPC has used checkoff dollars to fund a recent study by Louisiana State University (LSU) that was supposedly intended to find out which type of producer (independent, contract or corporate) likely will be left in hog production in the future.
The head of research for the study, LSU Associate Professor Jeffrey M. Gillespie, PhD, confirmed that checkoff dollars were being used. According to Gillespie, the study contains two questions about how producers are planning to vote in the pork checkoff referendum. Gillespie said the NPPC will use this information to help them identify different types of producers that will vote to continue the mandatory pork checkoff.
NPPC is violating federal rules by using checkoff dollars to influence the vote. "The USDA clearly explained to the NPPC that they could not use checkoff dollars to sway the vote, yet that is exactly what they are doing," stated Wayne Demmer, an Iowa hog producer and Iowa CCI member. "They will attempt to use the radio ads to promote the benefits of the checkoff and the information from the LSU study to develop referendum strategies to try to figure out how to win votes."
"I just can't believe that Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman is going to allow NPPC to use checkoff dollars to influence the vote," said Paul Sobocinski, Minnesota farmer and member of the Land Stewardship Project. "Glickman needs to step forward now and put in place an immediate moratorium that prohibits the use of checkoff funds for communication that touts the benefit of the checkoff. This moratorium should be in effect until the final results of the checkoff are released."