Farm Progress

Commodity Corner: For the seventh consecutive year, pork producer support for the checkoff increased.

January 31, 2017

4 Min Read
CHECKOFF SUPPORT: Pork producer support for the Pork Checkoff increased and is now at a record 91%.Kadmy/istock/thinkstock

The National Pork Board conducts a yearly survey of producers to assess the pulse of the industry. The survey provides a vehicle for determining producer concerns and getting feedback on checkoff programs that are designed to promote pork, educate consumers and address industry challenges. This year’s survey showed that for the seventh consecutive year, pork producer support for the Pork Checkoff increased and is now at a record 91% – up 1% from the 2015 survey. Meanwhile, opposition to the checkoff remains at a record-low 4%. These results are the most positive in the history of the survey.

Other highlights included:
Right direction, wrong track. 76% of producers said that the industry is heading “in the right direction,” improving from the previous year’s score of 70%. This improvement in optimism is encouraging despite the market supply pressure many are feeling with lower prices for pigs.
The biggest challenge facing producers is “too many regulations.” In previous years, the main challenge was viewed as “managing hog health and disease.” That previously No. 1 concern fell to No. 4 this year, a significant drop.
Single most important request. Producers’ No. 1 request of the checkoff is to educate consumers on pork production and the industry. This was followed closely by advertising and promoting pork and opening new markets.

“America’s pig farmers understand that growing domestic and export demand for pork is critical, but it all starts with building trust,” says Jan Archer, National Pork Board president and a pig farmer from Goldsboro, N.C. “This survey bears out that it begins with educating consumers about how pigs are raised, pork’s safety and its nutritional value.”

In response to specific questions about the National Pork Board’s strategic plan implemented early in 2015, the awareness and importance of each goal remains strong. On a 10-point scale:
• Build Consumer Trust rated a mean score of 8.91 (a decrease from 9.04 in 2015).
• Grow Consumer Demand rated a mean score of 8.70 (an increase from 8.63 in 2015).
• Drive Sustainable Production rated a mean score of 8.18 (an increase from 7.96 in 2015).

“Clearly, the implementation of the strategic plan is aligned with the concerns, interests and thoughts of producers,” Archer adds. “Pig farmers tell us that their investment in the Pork Checkoff is at work, with 17 defined objectives directly supporting each of the three goals.”

This most recent national survey was based on phone interviews with 550 producers across the country.

Michigan wheat farmers finish 2nd and 5th in National Wheat Yield Contest
Michigan growers knew they had a good harvest in 2016. Turns out, not only was it a good crop for Michigan, but Michigan’s results placed good nationally as well.

Michigan wheat farmers Gordon Briggs and David Eickholt represented the Great Lakes state by taking second and fifth place, respectively, in the new National Wheat Yield Contest. Briggs, from Scottville, placed second in the irrigated winter wheat category, and Eickholt, from Chesaning, garnered fifth in the dryland winter wheat category of the contest.

The National Wheat Yield Contest — which was restarted in 2016 after a 20-year hiatus — evaluates wheat yield in four categories by comparing the farmer’s yield against the average wheat yield in the county where they farm. Farmers compete in either spring or winter wheat, and then either irrigated or dryland. Each state has winners in either irrigated or dryland production, and from those winners the national winners are selected.

Briggs was Michigan’s top finisher with a final irrigated winter wheat yield of 167.4 bushels per acre, which was 170% above the average in Mason County. Also placing from Michigan in the irrigated category was Charles Eickholt of Chesaning with 141 bushels per acre, which was 108% above the county average.

In the overall contest, David Eickholt placed fifth in the dryland (nonirrigated) winter wheat category with a yield of 147.7 bushels per acre, which was 117% above the average yield in Shiawassee County.

Also placing in the Michigan dryland competition were Mark Kleinheksel from Allegan County, taking second statewide at 132 bushels per acre, which is 98% of the county yield. Placing third in the Michigan contest was Dennis Philpot of Sanilac County at 132 bushels per acre, which is 72% above his county average.

For perspective, Michigan wheat farmers set a record this past summer with a state average yield of 89 bushels per acre. The national average is only 55 bushels per acre. Michigan’s total yield in 2016 was also a record at 50.7 million bushels, which surpassed 2013’s largest-ever crop of 45 million bushels of wheat.

With a national harvest of 1.7 billion bushels, Michigan produces about 3% of the nation’s total wheat crop and ranks annually between 10th and 12th in wheat production.

Crop management updates held across the state
Gail Frahm, MSPC’s executive director, recently visited with farmer and agribusiness attendees at five Michigan State University Pest and Crop Management Update sessions, highlighting the soybean, corn and wheat checkoffs. Each group invests Michigan farmers’ checkoff dollars in programs, such as farmer and consumer education, agronomic research, and domestic and international market development efforts. For more information, visit for happenings specific to the state’s soybean checkoff.





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