PORK MONEY STILL DUE
Pork producers still have to continue payments to the pork checkoff, officials say. According to USDA, farmers narrowly defeated the checkoff program in a September referendum by a vote of 15,951 to 14,396, a decision that some Alabama producers expressed disappointment with.
On Jan.19, the U.S. District Court for Western Michigan, Grand Rapids, granted the National Pork Producers Council and other plaintiffs a temporary restraining order prohibiting USDA from publishing a rule to end the pork checkoff program.
In accordance with the court order, the Pork Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Order is still in effect and pork producers and importers must continue to pay pork checkoff assessments. Failure to pay the assessment will be subject to a fine of up to $1,100 per violation.
The lawsuit filed by producers and the NPPC contends that USDA acted unlawfully in holding a binding referendum despite having no legal authority to do so. The challengers claim that even if a referendum could be held, USDA ran it in a manner that was filled with irregularities, that failed to apply consistent standards or to count all lawfully cast ballots.
The pork checkoff program, created by the Pork Act of 1985, has funded various research projects and was responsible for creating the popular ad campaign, "Pork. The Other White Meat'." Funding for these initiatives comes from producers who pay 45 cents for every $100 of gross sales.