Jonesboro, Arkansas pig farmer David Newman is the vice president of the 15-member National Pork Board. In this edition of Pork Pod, hear David’s thoughts on the Pork Checkoff priorities and the wise, efficient use of the farmers’ investment.
David Newman, Vice President, National Pork Board
Don Wick: 00:04 From the Pork Checkoff in Des Moines Iowa, it’s 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 promotion, research and consumer information projects. I’m Don Wick speaking on behalf of the Pork Checkoff, and today our guest is David Newman, Vice President of the National Pork Board, and a pig farmer from Jonesboro, Arkansas. David as you take a look at the priorities of the National Pork Board, the Pork Checkoff Board, what do you see as we move forward?
David Newman: 00:30 Well, that’s a great question! I mean, the responsible use of our producer dollars is our focus, that’s our effort. And right now it’s about building consumer demand, domestically and internationally. It’s about our sustainability initiative and it’s about building consumer trust. So we really try to bucket right now to those three priorities. And underneath those three priorities are everything that we have always been involved with: PQA Plus, We Care, producer services, animal science research, human health, nutrition, pork quality, all of these other initiatives. But you know, it’s really about the responsible management of the producers’ dollars and allocating those dollars as wisely as we can to move pork. I mean, it’s all about getting pork into the mouth of a consumer.
Don Wick: 01:25 Certainly, it’s the 15 members on that National Pork Board making those decisions, but it’s that grassroots producer that does have input.
David Newman: 01:32 Oh, absolutely! I mean, you know, what we do on the board of directors is we represent the pork producers of America. So we’re representing the people from our regions, and really, people that represent the pork industry coast to coast. So you know, what we want to do, again, is responsibly manage those dollars. But a producer, whether they’re in Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, or Rhode Island, is paying into the checkoff program, no matter how small or how big. One of the important things that I realize, and I hope that we can make sure other producers realize, is that those dollars make a difference. And whenever, you know, hopefully we can, we can invite producers in and show them what we do with their dollars for trade, for domestic disappearance of product, for animal welfare initiatives, research and science. You know, that’s actually a very limited number of dollars that we have to spread it across a great big pie. And so when we try to make sure we do that responsibly, but effectively.
Don Wick: 02:42 You talk about, at least when I look at your academic background, you look at the focus on research. Certainly at a federal level, some of those research dollars are hard to come by. Are we able to leverage those limited funds from the Pork Checkoff to advance some of the projects we’re looking for?
David Newman: 02:57 That’s a great question. We had our budget planning task force and it always gets brought up. Today, research dollars are scarce and, you know, whether it’s looking at federal, whether it’s looking at NIH, NSF, or commodity groups, dollars are scarce. And the research landscape is changing. Right? So I’m in that mindset, one of the things that we will always put an emphasis on at the National Pork Board is funding quality research. So, you know, I’ve seen the change over time as a scientist where we are doing and trying to utilize our dollar more effectively, partnering on different programs. We’ve been successful in partnering on some federal grants with academic researchers and federal grants, for example, with our safe pork supply initiative. That’s one example of that. But we have a long standing history of conducting great research with Pork Board, with the Pork Checkoff dollars and I think that that will continue. The emphasis is certainly there to try to hone in on the things that are most important for producers and funding those projects.
Don Wick: 04:10 David Newman, one of the 15 members of the National Pork Board. Thanks to you for listening to this edition of Pork Pod. For more information on this topic or the Pork Checkoff itself, visit pork.org.