National Pork Forum is the annual meeting of the delegates of the National Pork Board. Delegates are nominated by state organizations and appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture. The primary tasks of delegates is to elect the board of directors for the National Pork Board and to set the mandatory national checkoff rate.
Here are a few pictures I took while there.
There are 150 ish delegates from across the U.S. representing every size and kind of pig farm.
Electing a board of directors gets complicated and technically is not what happens. The delegates rank nominees from a list established by the nominating committee and the rankings are submitted to the Secretary of Agriculture at USDA. This year there were 13 nominees to fill 5 board seats. So by rule the top 8 names in the ranking will be forwarded to the Secretary of Agriculture. The Secretary then picks 5 from the list to fill the seats.
Voting is done on the electronic key pad at the top center of the picture
Some years the Pork Forum is held at a vacation destination (this year is an example) other years the meeting is in a less noteworthy but always nice location (next year it is Kansas City).
Since the National Pork Board is funded with mandatory checkoff dollars it would seem unreasonable for those dollars to be used for political lobbying purposes. Just as I don't want to be forced to fund abortions with my healthcare and tax dollars, I don't want to be forced to support candidates I don't approve through mandatory checkoff funding.
A second, completely voluntarily funded organization, to does the political work. This organization is the National Pork Producers Council. The National Pork Producers Council has its annual meeting in conjunction with but very seperate from National Pork Board. The National Pork Producers Council raises some of the funding it needs each year with an auction. Some really nice items are donated and auctioned off each year.
At the end of a long day of sitting in a conference room, listening, voting, and talking it is always a treat to take your wife and a few friends and head out for a nice meal.
If all this sounds and looks interesting to you, the place to start is by getting involved with your local and state organizations. You may be surprised how quickly you can make a difference.