The Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus™) program was officially launched today at World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa.
“The pork industry is working on programs that will demonstrate to our customers our accountability, trust and social responsibility in pork production,” said Wayne Peugh, a pork producer from Edelstein, Ill. and National Pork Board president. “The Pork Checkoff is working to provide producers with tools and the ability to do that and PQA Plus will serve as a foundation to help meet that challenge.”
Pork Quality Assurance Plus incorporates an animal well- being component, mainly the Pork Checkoff’s Swine Welfare Assurance Program®, into the Pork Quality Assurance® (PQA®) certification program. The industry’s solution is a continuous improvement system focused on producer education, certification, and premises assessment. An audit of a representative sample of sites will extend credibility to the program.
“The first class of producers was trained in PQA Plus yesterday,” said Peugh. “They included members of our board of directors and the Pork Leadership Academy. I am proud to say the program is up and running.”
In addition to pork producers’ willingness to adapt PQA Plus, acceptance by those in the pork industry is critical. Veterinarians, through the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV), have participated in the development and testing of PQA Plus.
“The AASV is very pleased to support the new PQA Plus program,” said Dr. Daryl Olsen, AASV president. “Practitioners and producers will continue to rely on the framework provided by the new PQA Plus program in maintaining high standards for judicious antibiotic use, residue avoidance, health management and welfare assurance.”
To make sure producers of all sizes and production styles are able to take advantage of the PQA Plus program, the Pork Checkoff has been conducting beta tests on pilot farms. Each PQA Plus pilot advisor brought a variety of swine experience and background to the development of the program by representing and working with all types and sizes of pork producers.
“As with any new program, we ran into a few challenges,” said Larry McMullen, Iowa State University Extension swine field specialist. “The challenges were addressed and resulted in a PQA Plus program that accommodates production methods resulting in positive well-being to animals and allowing for production efficiency.”
A nationwide network of trained and certified advisors will work with pork producers to help them achieve PQA Plus certification. The certification will be good for three years, when it must be renewed. Producers currently certified in PQA Level III will continue to be certified until their current certification expires. However, all producers are encouraged to obtain PQA Plus certification at any time.
“Pork producers have always cared for our animals and now we have a way to demonstrate that care to others,” said Peugh. “I encourage pork producers to achieve PQA Plus certification because it is the right thing to do.”
For more information on the PQA Plus program call the Pork Checkoff Serviced Center at 800-456-Pork.
Source: National Pork Board news release