Pork Slogan Sale Back in Court
Nearly a decade after the government-sponsored National Pork Board bought the “Other White Meat” slogan for $60 million from a pork lobbying group, a lawsuit to undo the deal will be allowed to proceed. The US Court of Appeals reversed an earlier dismissal of the suit, brought by a group of pork farmers and the Humane Society of the United States. The plaintiffs allege the deal was a ruse to funnel money from the Board, which is funded by a tax on pork producers and is not allowed to lobby, to the private National Pork Producers Council. Critics also see the sale as symptomatic of issues with the government’s “checkoff” programs that tax farmers to fund promotional boards.
The 2006 price for the slogan—$3 million a year for 20 years—was inflated given the lack of potential buyers, argues Parke Wilde, PhD, an associate professor at Tufts’ Friedman School who has sought to get documents related to the deal under the Freedom of Information Act: “Are the artichoke producers competing for the slogan ‘Pork: The Other White Meat’? No, I don’t think so.” Ironically, the “white meat” slogan was retired in 2011 and replaced by “Pork: Be Inspired.” The $3 million annual payments, however, continue.