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 it doesn’t happen again. “It was a teachable moment for the industry and we have made progress dramatically in making changes and improvements in welfare and animal handling,” said Cory Bollum, pork procurement and buying manager for Hormel at the 2009 Food System Summit.

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 highest animal welfare standards and practices. “Treating animals humanely is the right thing to do,” Bollum said. “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 said 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

Hormel’s producers and truckers must have certifications by Dec. 31, for the Pork Quality Assurance Plus and Transport Quality Assurance programs. “All hogs purchased will be raised by PQA Plus-certified pork producers,” Bollum explained. “Everyone touching a pig from a producer to a Hormel employee will have to be PQA Plus certified. The quality assurance program has the highest production practices for the industry.”

Bollum said 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.”