WASHINGTON – The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) said the US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) is attempting to settle a lawsuit related to the council’s sale of the “Pork: The Other White Meat” marketing slogan to the National Pork Board (NPB). In a March 23 meeting with the USDA, NPPC officials demanded USDA defend the 2006 transaction, which the agency initially approved.
NPPC President John Weber, a pork producer from Dysart, Iowa, and CEO Neil Dierks, met with USDA’s general counsel to register the organization’s objection to any settlement.
“We’re concerned that even though USDA has a very strong legal position, it isn’t defending a contract it approved,” Weber said in a statement. “We’re concerned that it already has thrown in the towel.”
The lawsuit, which was filed in 2012, alleges that the NPPC sold the iconic pork chop logo and the “Pork: The Other White Meat” trademarked slogan to NPB and unlawfully used the money to lobby against animal welfare campaigns. HSUS claimed that the payments associated with the sale allowed the NPPC and the NPB to “evade federal restrictions against the use of pork checkoff dollars for purposes of influencing legislation and government policy.” In September 2013, a US District Court dismissed the lawsuit. But a federal appeals court revived the lawsuit in 2015. Now, NPPC is demanding that USDA defend the deal.
The transaction is valued at $35 million. NPPC financed the purchase over 20 years with NPB making annual payments of $3 million.