The Humane Society of the United States has filed a lawsuit that claims the National Pork Producers Council has been financing its lobbying efforts in part through the sale of the campaign slogan “the other white meat” in 2006 for 60-million dollars. According to the lawsuit – an economist thought use of the slogan was not worth more than 375-thousand dollars a year – but the National Pork Board agreed to the 60-million dollar price tag. The lawsuit goes on to say this was in an effort to keep the Pork Board’s friends at NPPC in business. NPPC CEO Neil Dierks says NPPC is reviewing the HSUS complaint. He says it appears there is no legal merit to the claim. In fact – he calls it another desperate attempt by the radical activist group to severely curtail animal agriculture and take away consumer food choices. Dierks says what does merit concern is how HSUS preys on the emotions of domestic pet owners with deceptive advertising and fundraising.
Dierks notes HSUS raises money on images of abused puppies without homes – when the truth is virtually none of those funds go to local shelters and instead go toward campaigns that attack family farmers and American meat production. According to Dierks – this is just the latest bullying tactic by HSUS in its efforts to force NPPC to abandon its position on allowing farmers to choose production practices that are best for the welfare of their animals. Over the past few months – he says HSUS has threatened NPPC with a Federal Trade Commission complaint; filed notice of intent to sue a number of hog operations over alleged emissions reporting violations; and charged that NPPC was responsible for the deaths of hogs in barn fires because the organization asked to give input on national fire standards for agricultural facilities. Dierks says all of the allegations lack merit.
National Pork Board Chief Executive Officer Chris Novak said. “I find it unusual that HSUS is filing suit now over a decision that was made and approved more than six years ago.”
The board purchased the trademark in 2006 from the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), which created the trademark prior to the formation of the National Pork Board in 1986. The National Pork Board subsequently assumed all marketing responsibilities for pork. The sale price, agreed to by both boards and approved by the secretary of agriculture, was $35 million. NPPC agreed to finance the payments over 20 years, making the payment from the National Pork Board $3 million annually.
“‘The Other White Meat’ is an incredibly valuable asset, which is why the board in 2006 took steps to assure it would always be owned by pork producers,” Novak said. “In 2000, Northwestern University conducted a study that determined that The Other White Meat was one of the five most recognizable taglines in contemporary advertising. So it was important to producers that it be protected,” Novak added. And even though the board has transitioned its advertising to another tagline, Novak said, it continues to use The Other White Meat. It will be featured by the National Pork Board this month at meetings of the American Dietetic Association and with the National Pork Board’s Advisory Panel of Retail Dietitians.