Iowa pork producers have embraced the industry-wide Pork Quality Assurance Plus program.  In about two years, more than 10,000 Iowa pork producers, employees and other personnel have become certified in the PQA Plus program.

PQA Plus and the Transport Quality Assurance program are part of the We Care responsible pork initiative established by the National Pork Board and National Pork Producers Council. Through this initiative pork producers demonstrate their commitment to safe food, animal well-being, public health, the environment, employees and their local communities.

PQA Plus certification reminds pork producers how to use antibiotics responsibly, maintain adequate records and provide proper care to ensure animal well-being.

“The producers I’m working with are already doing those things and the documentation being requested is above and beyond their normal routine,” says Dave Stender, an Iowa State University Extension swine specialist who has facilitated many PQA Plus training sessions. “It proves they’re willing to go the extra mile to ensure that pork production is animal welfare-friendly and a safe product is produced.”

The two-part PQA Plus program starts with producers receiving individual certification by meeting and reviewing 10 good production practices with a certified advisor. Once a producer receives certification he/she is asked to complete a PQA Plus Site Assessment to achieve site status. As part two, a PQA Plus advisor — often a livestock veterinarian or Extension specialist — evaluates the producer’s operation and makes any necessary recommendations to improve facilities, record keeping, air quality and animal well-being on the farm. Individual certification and site assessments must be completed every three years to maintain PQA Plus certification and site status.   

“More than 1,300 pork production sites in Iowa have achieved PQA Plus site status,” says Tyler Bettin, Iowa Pork Producers Association producer education director. “Pork producers want to show consumers they are doing everything possible to provide the proper care for their animals.”

Additionally, nearly 5,100 individuals in Iowa have been certified in the TQA program. It focuses on swine transporters, producers and handlers, illustrating how to properly handle, move and transport pigs and the potential impact of those actions on animal well-being and pork quality.

“I believe [the certifications] shows the commitment of our pork producers to the industry and that they’re doing the right thing, taking care of the animals, the environment and producing a safe, wholesome product for consumers,” says Tim Bierman, National Pork Board president, a PQA Plus-certified producer from Larrabee, Iowa.

IPPA and NPB are encouraging all producers to become PQA Plus-certified and achieve PQA Plus site status prior to Dec. 31, 2010.

Source: Iowa Pork Producers Association