ORLANDO, Fla. – The National Pork Board approved an additional $3 million in Pork Checkoff funds for summer marketing initiatives. The move is in response to what the board calls "new market challenges and new opportunities".

Russia's recent import ban of US pork, beef and turkey over ractopamine residues have threatened market access for US pork products and slowed the pace of pork exports, according to the Board. A ban on chilled meat began Feb. 4, followed by a ban on US frozen meat, turkey meat and value-added products that became effective Feb. 11.

"With farmers still reeling from the high feed prices associated with the 2012 drought, we felt it was critically important that we are doing everything we can to keep pork moving through the marketplace," said Conley Nelson, National Pork Board president. "With 75 percent of our customers living in the United States, we believe there is a great opportunity to increase domestic demand for quality US pork."

Ceci Snyder, Checkoff vice president of domestic marketing, said the additional funds will help highlight the value of pork in the meat case as consumers continue to cope with challenging economic times.

"As we've listened to consumers, we know they are seeking affordable and convenient dinner ideas-and pork today offers a great combination of flavor, versatility, and value," Snyder said.

The additional funding will also help the industry take advantage of rising pork demand heading into the spring and summer grilling season.

"Pork right now is one of the best values in the meat case," Nelson said. "We also are getting some help from the new, 145-degree cooking temperature approved last year by the US Food Safety and Inspection Service. We're adding new pork lovers once they discover how good it is when cooked to the right temperature.

"Finally, we've launched a new effort to give consumers new ideas for affordable family meals," he added. "By putting some new labels on familiar pork cuts, we think it will be easier for consumers to take advantage of pork's great taste and value."