WASHINGTON – The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dismissed a lawsuit against the National Pork Producers Council alleging the organization misappropriated funds from the sale of trademarks associated with the “Pork: The Other White Meat” campaign.
The lawsuit originally was filed in 2012 by Humane Society of the United States, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Harvey Dillenburg, an independent pig producer. In September 2013, a US District Court dismissed the lawsuit. But a federal appeals court revived the lawsuit in 2015. Another federal court ruling went in favor of HSUS in 2018.
In its lawsuit, HSUS argued that the NPPC sold its “Pork: The Other White Meat” slogan to the National Pork Board (NPB) for an inflated price of $60 million. The animal welfare group alleged that the payments enabled the NPPC and the NPB to “evade federal restrictions against the use of pork checkoff dollars for purposes of influencing legislation and government policy.” HSUS also alleged that the transaction violated the Pork Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act of 1985, the Pork Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Order and the USDA guidelines for checkoff program operations.
On Aug. 23, NPPC applauded the most recent ruling, which found that HSUS and other plaintiffs failed to show they were harmed by the transaction.
“The dismissal of this case is a win for American pork producers who depend on NPPC’s issues advocacy work and the research, education and promotional work performed by the National Pork Board,” said David Herring, NPPC president. “The real misappropriation of funds is HSUS’s continued efforts to fundraise under false pretenses while using its proceeds to attack farmers dedicated to feeding billions of people at home and abroad.”
The transaction was made in 2006 for $35 million, NPPC said, however a study by USDA later valued the trademarks at between $113 million and $132 million. USDA authorized the transaction as part of the agency’s oversight duties.