Pork council taps O&B for PR help in face of legal battle

ST. LOUIS: The National Pork Board, facing a court challenge from small-hog producers over its Pork Checkoff program, has hired b-to-b firm Osborn & Barr (O&B) to implement a producer communications program.

ST. LOUIS: The National Pork Board, facing a court challenge from small-hog producers over its Pork Checkoff program, has hired b-to-b firm Osborn & Barr (O&B) to implement a producer communications program.

Small-hog producers have challenged the checkoff program, which requires they pay into a fund used to create pork marketing programs. The board administers the program.

Mike Wegner, VP of communications, wants his new agency to help tell pork producers "that the money they are investing in the pork checkoff is a good investment," he said.

Hog farmers voted to do away with the checkoff in 2000, but in 2001 the US Department of Agriculture said it would keep the program.

St. Louis-based O&B will first use direct mail to reach pork producers, specifically targeting different-size producers.

The board also plans ads on radio and in industry trades.

Some hog farmers won a victory last year when a federal court in Michigan called the program unconstitutional, and ordered it ended in 30 days.

The Justice Department requested a stay of that order. New arguments are set to be made March 14 in federal appeals court.

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