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Jobs, Economic Benefits and Producers' Community Involvement Cited

RALEIGH, N.C., March 7 /PRNewswire/ -- A statewide opinion poll conducted in January shows that citizens overall feel positively about North Carolina pork production, but the state's pork producers today said it placed an even greater responsibility on their industry to take a leadership position in dealing with the environmental challenges faced by the state.

"Although we are heartened by many of the positive findings in the survey, it is also very clear that the people of this state want more information about how we run our business and its impact on North Carolina's economy and environment," said Nash Johnson, president of the N.C. Pork Producers Association. "This research shows that the majority of the public believes that pork production is an important, positive part of North Carolina's economy and that pork producers and their families help make their communities better places to live and work.

"At the same time, many people are uncertain about the impact of our business on the environment and want more information about what we're doing. We intend to provide that information.

"Since 1990, the N.C. Pork Producers Association has invested more than half a million dollars in research about hog farming," continued Johnson. "This public opinion survey is just the latest step in our research. It was intended to gauge people's level of understanding about pork production and identify key issues and concerns about our business. What we found shows that North Carolinians have a pretty positive image of our business and we think that places an even greater responsibility on us to make sure that our stewardship of the environment and of our hog farming operations meets their high expectations."

Johnson cited January 31, 1996 data from the N.C. Department of Environment, Health and Natural Resources that concluded that 97.2 percent of the 3,013 hog farms inspected have complied with state regulations and have not caused water quality problems.

"Based on this data and what we have found in our public opinion study, the N.C. Pork Producers Association will undertake a major public information and producer education program to clearly communicate the environmental and safety programs we have in place and to ensure that we continue to operate in the safest, most efficient and environmentally responsible manner possible," said Johnson.

Key findings of the opinion study included the following:

-- A majority of the state wants to learn more about how hog farmers

are improving nutrient management, turning unusable area into

productive farmland and contributing to the state's economy.

Primary concerns included causes of water contamination, waste

lagoons, how producers care for the land and about community and

economic benefits offered by producers.

-- A significant majority - 75 percent - of North Carolina citizens

have a positive top-of-mind opinion about pork production. When

asked to pick one word to define pork production in North Carolina,

more than one-quarter of respondents used the word "good."

-- Nearly two-thirds believe that producers have made a significant

contribution to the state.

-- More than half feel that producers are working rapidly to improve

waste management.

-- A majority believes that pork production has created thousands of

spin-off jobs and that more pork processing plants would help the


-- Residents believe that cities, factories and businesses create

more pollution than pork production.

-- Only 12 to 15 percent of the people in North Carolina oppose pork


Results of the survey, conducted by Communication Sciences International (CSI) of Raleigh, were released to reporters Thursday afternoon in Charlotte immediately prior to the start of the National Pork Producers Council's 1996 Pork Industry Forum. This marks the first time the conference has been held in North Carolina, which now ranks second in pork production nationally.

According to Dr. Long, the survey also explored where people get information about North Carolina pork production and which sources are most credible in their eyes. In rank order, the five most credible sources of information about pork production are N.C. State University, local agriculture extension agents, the N.C. Department of Environmental Management, the N.C. Pork Producers Association and N.C Commissioner of Agriculture Jim Graham.

"This past year has been a difficult one for pork producers," continued Johnson, whose family owns and operates a hog farm in Sampson County. "We are concerned that too often emotions rather than facts have ruled the debate over pork production in North Carolina. For example, our research indicated that many people mistakenly believe that producers violate environmental regulations. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth."

Representing North Carolina pork producers and their families, the N.C. Pork Producers Association helps hog farmers enhance the safety, efficiency and environmental responsibility of their operations by supporting research, education and training programs. The association also promotes pork, the state's leading agribusiness commodity, through a variety of marketing and public information efforts.

Communication Sciences International is a wholly owned research division of Epley Associates, Inc., a leading public relations and communication research firm with offices in Charlotte and Raleigh.

A total of 1,344 adult (18 years or older) North Carolina residents were interviewed, providing less than a 2.8 percent margin of error at the 95 percent confidence level for estimates to the population. The survey gauged public attitudes and behaviors on a wide range of topics, including pork purchasing habits, environmental issues, economic issues and information needs about pork production.

The study was conducted by CSI senior research consultants Larry Long, PhD and Mitch Javidi, PhD, both of whom are professors at N.C State University in the Department of Communication. The four-month- long research project, which was contracted by the N.C. Pork Producers Association, also included a series of citizen focus groups in Clinton, Greenville, Plymouth, Raleigh, Statesville and Wilmington.

-- North Carolina is the second largest pork producing state in the

nation. -- Pork producers in North Carolina produce about one-eighth of the

nation's pork, enough to feed an estimated 33 million Americans. -- North Carolina pork producers sold over 11 million head of hogs in

1995. -- North Carolina pork production generates approximately 1 billion

dollars in gross sales for farmers annually. -- Pork production, as North Carolina's leading farm-income producer,

contributes nearly $5 billion to the economy. -- Over 25,000 North Carolinians depend on North Carolina pork

production for income and employment on farms and in allied

industries. -- Pork producers in North Carolina pay over 60 million dollars in state

and local taxes.

-- For almost 35 years, the North Carolina Pork Producers Association

has provided the pork producers of this state with technical

assistance based on the latest research and has worked with producers

to create promotion and consumer activities. -- The North Carolina Pork Producers Association is the oldest pork

producers association in the nation to have operated under a

mandatory checkoff system since its inception. Funds collected

through the checkoff system support research, promotion and consumer

activities. -- The North Carolina Pork Producers Association has funded over

$550,000 in research since 1990, most of which has focused on

increasing the efficiency, safety and environmental responsibility of

pork production in North Carolina. Two recent studies supported by

the North Carolina Pork Producers Association are:

-- The recently released "Review of Current Regulatory Framework and

Industry Practices for Swine Waste Management Systems" report by

Law Engineering

-- The "Characterization of Odors from Swine Operations" study

conducted by Dr. Susan Schiffman of the Department of Psychiatry

and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University.

-- All members of the North Carolina Pork Producers Association

Board of Directors are required to complete the Environmental

Assurance Program created and conducted by the National Pork

Producers Council. Current members of the N.C. Pork Producers

Board have been certified.

-- The North Carolina Pork Producers association supports:

-- A comprehensive isotope study to identify the sources of
 nitrogen in the Neuse River to be funded jointly by the N.C.
 Department of Environmental Management, the North Carolina
 Pork Producers Association and a consortium of environmental

-- Twice-a-year inspections of animal waste lagoons, waste-
 utilization and waste management systems in North Carolina.

-- The waste-applicator training, testing and certification
 program for livestock enacted by the N.C. General Assembly in

-- A Watershed-based program that brings agriculture, cities and
 towns, developers, recreational facilities and concerned
 citizens together to develop best management practices to
 address current problems and anticipate future concerns.

-- Establishment of a single agency that will deal with the

handling and treatment of agricultural waste in North Carolina.
 -0- 3/7/96

/CONTACT: Walter Cherry, N.C. Pork Producers Association, 919-846-9758/

CO: North Carolina Pork Producers Association, Inc. ST: North Carolina IN: AGR SU:

JB -- CHTH014 -- 1318 03/07/96 16:46 EST
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Date:Mar 7, 1996

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