Monday, Feb. 17, 1997
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has paid $50,000 to investigate the 
activities of six  family farm and sustainable agriculture groups, according to 
NPPC documents leaked to the media last week. 

Part of that money, which was paid to a Washington, D.C., public relations firm,
came from the federal pork checkoff, says Alan Guebert, an Illinois-based 
journalist who wrote about the NPPC’s surveillance work in this week’s edition 
of his syndicated column. The PR firm, Mongoven, Biscoe and Duchin, Inc., was 
hired by the NPPC in 1996, and its investigation of grassroots groups continues 
as part of a $100,000, checkoff-sponsored program called “Strategic 
Communication Initiatives,” according to NPPC officials. 

“The NPPC is run by the big producers and corporate factory farms for their own 
benefit, and they use our money to do it,” said Rodney Skalbeck, a Renville 
County, Minn., hog farmer and a member of the Land Stewardship Project. “Now 
they’re trying to defuse some of the organizations that represent the average 
family farmer and rural citizens. It’s got to stop. Let’s end the mandatory 

The checkoff is a mandatory system for collecting money from every hog farmer in
the country for promotion, research and education purposes. In 1996, the NPPC 
received approximately $45 million in pork checkoff funds from tens of thousands
of producers. Approximately $24 million of that total came from the largest 40 
producers in the country, who own more than 1.7 million sows collectively.

Three of the groups being watched by the firm without their knowledge — Iowa 
Citizens for Community Improvement, the Missouri Rural Crisis Center and the 
Minnesota-based Land Stewardship Project — are members of the Campaign for 
Family Farms and the Environment (CFFE). The Campaign has confronted NPPC 
officials on several occasions for promoting industrialized hog factories at 
the expense of independent family farmers. CFFE groups have also questioned the 
truthfulness of information provided to state and federal legislators by NPPC 
and its state affiliates. 

In response to the news of NPPC using producers’ money for surveillance, the 
Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment has called for a congressional 
investigation into the use of NPPC checkoff funds, an end to the mandatory 
checkoff, and the resignation of NPPC president Bob Ruggles.

“I should be shocked by NPPC’s paranoid tactics but I’m not,” said Iowa CCI 
member and Marshall County, Iowa, hog producer Larry Ginter. “Why should my 
money go to support spying on farm organizations that are trying to help me and 
other independent family hog producers? It’s time to end the mandatory pork 

Ron Perry, a Livingston County, Mo., hog farmer and a member of the Missouri 
Rural Crisis Center was also outraged: “It’s obvious the NPPC has lost touch 
with the concerns of average hog farmers. They see us as a threat because we’ve 
successfully exposed their corporate agenda. We’re having a big impact.”

Mongoven, Biscoe and Duchin is regarded as the number one “spies for hire” 
public relations firm in the country, according to John Stauber, editor of PR 
Watch, a publication that covers the public relations industry. John Mongoven, 
president of the firm, was a public relations consultant for Nestle Foods when 
the company was attempting to counter an international church-led boycott 
protesting the food company’s deadly practice of selling infant formula to women
in third world countries. 

The Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment is a coalition of eight groups
in six states that are fighting against hog factories and concentration in the 
livestock industry. Other members of the coalition include Illinois Stewardship 
Alliance, Citizens of Lincoln Township, North Carolina Land Loss Prevention 
Project, Animal Welfare Institute and the Oklahoma Toxics Campaign.