The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Inspector General requesting an investigation into the use of pork checkoff funds. HSUS contends that “federal pork checkoff program monies are being used to fund the NPPC’s [National Pork Producers Council’s] Pork Alliance program, which is the council’s state and federal lobbying operation. Further, the NPPC publicly lists the [National] Pork Board on its website among the high donor ‘partners’ of its Alliance program, a public endorsement that would also violate the Pork Board’s prohibition against involvement in lobbying activity.”

The federal pork checkoff program apparently requires pork producers to pay into a fund overseen by the National Pork Board, which HSUS claims “is to use the funds for ‘promotion, research, and consumer information plans and projects’ or for the Board’s own administrative expenses. However, both federal law and USDA regulations expressly prohibit the use of pork checkoff program funding for legislative activity.” According to the complaint, NPPC’s Pork Alliance program “is a voluntary scheme in which interested organizations from allied industries can pay dues to the NPPC in support of its legislative activities.” HSUS alleges that NPPC “uses Alliance dues ‘to fund outreach for critical legislative and regulatory industry priorities.’”

Details about the HSUS Federal Trade Commission complaint alleging that NPPC engaged in false advertising appear in Issue 436 of this Update. Details about an HSUS lawsuit against USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack alleging unlawful expenditures of pork checkoff funds appear in Issue 455 of this Update.