FSA offices assisting with USDA’s request for referendum on pork

Eligible producers and importers of hogs, pigs, pork and pork products are to determine if they want a referendum on the U.S. Department of Agriculture?s Pork Promotion, Research and Consumer Infor?mation Order, commonly known as the Pork Checkoff Program.

The ?request for referendum? was launched Dec. 8 by the USDA?s Agricultural Marketing Service.

The national network of county offices of the Farm Service Agency is assisting AMS in the referendum-request efforts by publicizing the event, accepting referendum form requests, confirming eligibility of those persons who participate, and reporting request for referendum results to AMS.

USDA will conduct an actual referendum on the order only if at least 15 percent of the total number of eligible pork producers request a referendum.

The total number of U.S. producers eligible to participate is about 69,446; therefore, at least 10,417 producers must request a referendum.

If necessary, the referendum will be conducted within one year after the results of the request for referendum are announced.

The request for referendum will run from Dec. 8 through Jan. 2.

Producers who were engaged in pork production between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2007, and were at least 18 years of age on or before Dec. 21, 2007, are eligible to participate.

Participation is voluntary, and only individuals who desire a referendum on the Pork Checkoff Program should participate.

The request for referendum is being conducted as a result of a settlement of a lawsuit between USDA and the Michigan Pork Producers Association.

The opportunity for all eligible producers to participate will be provided at the county FSA office where their farm records are maintained. 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 facsimile request.

Forms may also be obtained at the following online site: ams.usda.gov/LSMarketingPrograms.

In order to vote, form LS-54-1 and supporting documentation, such as a sales receipt, feed bill or grower contract, must be returned to the appropriate county FSA office by the close of business Jan. 2.

Participation by proxy or through a power of attorney is not authorized.

The order is authorized by the Pork Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act of 1985?a part of the 1985 farm bill?and was designed to strengthen the position of pork and pork products in the marketplace.

Bill Harmon is executive director of the Marion County FSA office.

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