About a year ago an undercover video of hog abuse hit the airways. Today, pork processors are putting that incident behind them with proactive measures to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. “It was a teachable moment for the industry, and we have made dramatic progress in making changes and improvements in welfare and animal handling,” says Cory Bollum, Hormel Foods’ pork procurement and buying manager.

Hormel harvests about 9 million hogs annually at three processing operations. Bollum says Hormel’s animal-welfare mission includes the premise that quality products start with the highest animal-welfare standards and practices. “Treating animals humanely is the right thing to do,” Bollum notes. “Public trust is retained by always doing things right. A happy pig is an efficient and fast-growing pig. We let our producers find what makes those pigs grow fast, efficient and happy.”

Bollum points out that a successful welfare program is based on:

  • Scientific data.
  • The use of new technologies.
  • It must be hands-on.
  • It must be designed to be consistent, measurable and successful.

Producers selling to Hormel and truckers delivering hogs there must be certified in the Pork Quality Assurance Plus and Transport Quality Assurance programs by Dec. 31. “Everyone touching a pig, from a producer to a Hormel employee, will have to be PQA Plus certified,” Bollum says. “The quality assurance program has the highest production practices for the industry.”

Further, Hormel is emphasizing ongoing training. “We are focusing on employees and making them feel like they are involved and part of it. We encourage accountability, and we are making sure they are up to speed and up to date.”