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National Pork Board

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Title: National Pork Board  
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Subject: Pork. The Other White Meat, Fat free lean index, White meat, Marketing board, Antibiotic use in livestock
Collection: Commodity Checkoff Programs, Marketing Boards, Pork
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National Pork Board

The National Pork Board, headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa is a quasi-governmental (government-owned corporation) body of the United States government that was established under the terms of the Pork Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act of 1985, also known as the Pork Act,[1] which was included as part of the 1985 Congressional Farm Bill. The board is responsible for overseeing the provision of consumer information, performing industry-related research and promotion of pork as a food product, most notably through its "Pork. The Other White Meat" advertising program. The board's activities are funded by a mandatory commodity checkoff program for cattle and hog farmers, which requires producers to pay into a marketing fund each time an animal is sold.

The program operates as part of an Agricultural Marketing Service overseen by the United States Department of Agriculture. Its 15 members are chosen by the United States Secretary of Agriculture, based on nominations received from the Pork Act Delegate Body.[2]

With a program promoting pork as a lean meat to health-conscious consumers, pork sales in the United States rose 20%, reaching $30 billion annually by 1991, spurred by the success of its "Pork. The Other White Meat" advertising program, introduced in 1987.[3]

Data collected by the USDA's Economic Research Service showed that pork consumption following the introduction of the Board's promotion programs had risen from 45.6 pounds (20.7 kg) per capita in 1987 and reaching a peak of 49.3 pounds (22.4 kg) per person in 1999, dropping to 48.5 pounds (22.0 kg) in 2003. By contrast, beef consumption had declined from 69.5 pounds (31.5 kg) per American in 1987 to 62 pounds (28 kg) in 2003.[4]

The national checkoff began in 1986 with a rate of .25 of one percent (25 cents per $100), that was increased to .35 of one percent in 1991 and to .45 of one percent in 1995.[5] As of 2009, the checkoff rate is four-tenths of one percent — 40 cents for every $100 at market rate — of the value of all pork products manufactured in the United States or imported into the country.[2] The current rate has been in place since 2002, when the rate was decreased by .05 of one percent.[6]

Despite $4 million spent to support the retention of the checkoff, a referendum held in 2000 among hog farmers voted to eliminate the checkoff, which funded the $50 million marketing campaign promoting pork. Secretary of Agriculture voided the results, citing problems with petitions filed in advance of the referendum.[7]


The National Pork Board is also a leading proponent of confining breeding pigs, in the pork industry, inside gestation crates.[8] These cages are roughly the same size as the animals' bodies and designed to prevent them from even turning around. The animals are subsequently transferred into another crate to give birth, re-impregnated, and put back into a gestation crate. This happens pregnancy after pregnancy for their entire lives, adding up to years of virtual immobilization. The confinement system has come under scrutiny by veterinarians, farmers, animal welfare advocates, animal scientists, consumers, and others.[9]


  1. ^ [1] Pork Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act of 1985 (7 U.S.C.4801-4819)
  2. ^ a b Pork Checkoff, National Pork Board. Accessed April 22, 2009.
  3. ^ Hall, Trish. "And This Little Piggy Is Now on the Menu", The New York Times, November 13, 1991. Accessed April 22, 2009.
  4. ^ Levere, Jane L. "The Pork Industry's 'Other White Meat' Campaign Is Taken in New Directions", The New York Times, March 4, 2005. Accessed April 22, 2009.
  5. ^ Pork Checkoff History: 1954 - 1995. National Pork Board. Accessed April 22, 2009.
  6. ^ Pork Checkoff History: 1996 - 2003, National Pork Board. Accessed April 22, 2009.
  7. ^ Editorial. "The Other Political Pork", The New York Times, November 10, 2002. Accessed April 22, 2009.
  8. ^ McDonald's Sets Deadline for Gestation Crates.
  9. ^ Gestation Crates. Triple Pundit.
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