A Growing ROI

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U.S. pork producers receive a positive return on their Checkoff investment. Pork Checkoff vice president of strategic communications Kevin Waetke highlights a 2017 study that provides the ROI analysis. The results of an annual producer survey are also discussed in this podcast.


Don Wick


Kevin Waetke, Vice President of Strategic Communications, National Pork Board




Don Wick: 00:04 From the Pork Checkoff in Des Moines Iowa this is Pork Pod. Pork Pod, a look at the hot topics in today’s pork industry. The Pork Checkoff is working for you through various forms of research promotion and consumer information projects. This is Don Wick speaking on behalf of the Pork Checkoff. And today our guest is Kevin Waetke who is the vice president of strategic communications for the National Pork Board the National Pork Board has a new economic analysis of Pork Checkoff programs. Kevin give us some background tell us about this research.

Kevin Waetke: 00:31 Per the U.S. Department of Agriculture they require a return on investment analysis every five years and we’ve worked closely with Cornell University in conducting this economic review over the course of the past three survey periods. What we’ve found this year is really an outstanding producer return on their investment. The pork checkoff returns about 25 dollars for every producer dollar invested and those investments go specifically to conducting farm level research also marketing and promotion of pork and producer education.

Don Wick: 01:14 Do they break it down by the different areas served by the pork checkoff?

Kevin Waetke: 01:19 Yes it is broken down by very distinct areas so as you can understand a dollar invested in one area may not generate the same return on investment as a dollar invested in others. And really the shining star at the National Pork Board is really on the science and technology and research side. So for every producer dollar invested in a research program we deliver about 83 dollars a producer value and that really comes in terms of programs and on farm solutions to problems whether it would be related to responsible antibiotic use or investments in swine disease research.

Don Wick: 02:01 It really has to be rewarding to see these kinds of results that really tells you that the checkoff is on the right track.

Kevin Waetke: 02:09 It really is rewarding and in fact the National Pork Board is highest among many of the checkoffs out there. And this recent study that we commission on behalf of our producers aligns very closely with a similar study that’s unique and separate conducted by the U.S. General Accountability Office. So not only is it rewarding that we’re delivering value to producers but it’s also rewarding to know that study compared this study is very consistent. That’s excellent news. The work we do is important to producers and this is a way to validate that while it is a mandatory checkoff the money is being put to good use and it’s being used to directly fund programs that can be quantifiable in delivering value of that farmer investment. You know and the results indicate a positive impact across the board. And what we’re seeing is when we compare this study to the previous one to the previous one we’re seeing really an upward trajectory in terms of the return on investment.

Don Wick: 03:17 Kevin in addition a new producer survey the results have been released. Can you shed some light on those numbers for us.

Kevin Waetke: 03:25 Sure. Well since 2002 the National Pork Board has done its annual survey and it’s a random sample of 550 telephone interviews with farmers whether they’re small producers or large producers across the country. And we conducted our most recent survey in early November and we have those results now. Really what we’re seeing is that support for the Pork Checkoff is remaining very high at 91 percent essentially 9 out of 10 producers feel that the money they invest in the checkoff is of value and it delivers a return. What was unique this year is that you always have some opposition to a program and we’re actually seeing opposition decline even further down to a record low level of 3 percent.

Don Wick: 04:09 It’s amazing there are some highlights when you get into the heart of the study.

Kevin Waetke: 04:14 Yeah it really is the most important thing I think is optimism and we ask a question, Do producers feel like the National Pork Board or the industry in general is heading in the right direction or are we on the wrong track and in 2017 78 percent of producers say that the pork industry is heading in the right direction. And that’s actually an increase from last year and really only 12 percent say that we’re on the wrong track. A lot of this comes down to profitability. If a producer is profitable and they see good market indicators which we are seeing with growing consumer demand and lower input prices they’re going to feel better about the industry. The other thing we really focus on is what’s the number one challenge. What is it the National Pork Board can do to meet a producer needs. And first and foremost again managing hog health and disease, developing programs that really target improving the healthy environment for raising animals is critical and that’s their number one their number one concern. Helped me manage hog health and disease.

Don Wick: 05:29 Kevin obviously the Pork Checkoff has a strategic plan, does this kind of research help as you move forward maneuver with that plan?

Kevin Waetke: 05:35 Yeah, really if we are not in touch with producers if we don’t conduct annual periodic surveys of our producers then we have no way to validate the work we’re doing. Is it important, does it resonate, doesn’t meet their needs. And it’s this kind of producer surveys that we conduct that help us know if the goals are on target and what we’re seeing is you know basically on a 10 point scale we ask is it important to build consumer trust and we get eight point nine five. I mean that’s a very record high for the need for the National Pork Board to represent producer interests and to help build that consumer trust. We also see a great increase in focus on growing export demand and that’s different from U.S. demand. Domestic demand is very strong here in the U.S.. Our producers want to see us invest in programs and dollars to grow the export market.

Don Wick: 06:35 Kevin Waetke from the National Pork Board. Thank you for listening to this edition of Pork Pod. For more information on this topic or the Pork Checkoff itself visit pork.org.