The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service announced that it will conduct a request for referendum next month among eligible producers and importers of hogs, pigs, pork, and pork products to determine if they want a referendum on the Pork Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Order, commonly known as the Pork Checkoff Program. Participation is voluntary, and only individuals who desire a referendum on the Pork Checkoff Program should participate.
USDA will only conduct a referendum on the order if at least 15 percent of the total number of eligible pork producers and importers request a referendum. The total number of producers and importers eligible to participate in the request for referendum is approximately 69,446; therefore, at least 10,417 eligible producers and importers must request a referendum. If necessary, the referendum will be conducted within one year after the results of the request for referendum are announced. If results of the request for referendum indicate that a referendum is not supported, a referendum would not be conducted.
The request for referendum will be held Dec. 8, 2008 through Jan. 2, 2009. Producers and importers who were engaged in pork production or in the importation of hogs, pigs, pork or pork products between Jan. 1, 2007, and Dec. 31, 2007, and were at least 18 years of age on or before Dec. 31, 2007, are eligible to participate.
For producers, the request for referendum will be conducted at the USDA County Farm Service Agency offices where their administrative farm records are maintained. For producers not participating in FSA programs, the opportunity to participate will be provided at the county FSA office where the person owns or rents land. Eligible producers may obtain form LS-54-1: Pork Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Request for Referendum from those offices either in person, by mail or by facsimile. Forms may also be obtained at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/LSMarketingPrograms.
In order to vote, Form LS-54-1 and supporting documentation, where applicable, such as a sales receipt, veterinary bill, feed bill, copies of grower contracts, cancelled check or proof of payment must be returned in person, by mail, or by facsimile to the appropriate county FSA office by the close of business Jan. 2, 2009. Form LS-54-1 and supporting documentation returned by mail must be postmarked no later than midnight on Jan. 2, 2009, and received by Jan. 9, 2009.
Importers may obtain Form LS-54-1 through the Marketing Programs Branch, Livestock and Seed Program, AMS, USDA or via the Internet at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/LSMarketingPrograms. Form LS-54-1 and accompanying documentation, such as Customs Form 7501, can be returned in person, by mail or by facsimile. Forms returned by mail must be postmarked no later than midnight on Jan. 2, 2009, and received by Jan. 9, 2009. It is recommended that the form and supporting documentation be mailed via an express service.
The order is authorized by the Pork Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act of 1985, part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The program became effective on Sept. 5, 1986, and assessments began Nov. 1, 1986. This program is designed to strengthen the position of pork and pork products in the marketplace.
For more information, contact Kenneth R. Payne, Chief; Marketing Programs Branch, Room 2628-S; Livestock and Seed Program, AMS, USDA; Stop 0251; 1400 Independence Avenue, SW; Washington, D.C. 20250-0251; by calling (202) 720-1115; or faxing (202) 720-1125.; or e-mail at Kenneth.Payne @usda.gov.