Consumers want to know how their food is produced. Through its Youth Pork Quality Assurance Plus program (PQA), the National Pork Board will make training available to young producers so they can continue to earn the trust of consumers through transparency and training. Recent changes to Youth PQA Plus include an online training, testing, and certification option to accompany the current in-person process. Delivered to students in the form of an engaging, interactive online learning module, the new online option allows participants to learn, test, and become certified in Youth PQA Plus. For youth age 12 and under, there is a parent log-in for security as well.
Youth PQA Plus is one part of the pork industry's We CareSMinitiative, which reflects the ongoing commitment to responsible farming and fosters continuous improvement. Youth PQA Plus consists of two main elements: food safety and animal well-being training. The new online certification option for Youth PQA Plus was made available on April 15, 2014. Because it is interactive, it engages students, making learning fun.
"Consumers are paying more and more attention to how animals are raised and cared for. As such, we must prepare all producers - newcomers and veterans - to assure they're aware of the best on-farm practices available," said Jodi Sterle of Iowa State University. "I think it is extremely important for youth swine exhibitors to understand they are part of something bigger; they are part of the overall swine industry, producing food to feed the world."
Sterle is the Harman Endowed Professor in Teaching and Learning and Undergraduate Teaching Coordinator in Iowa State's Department of Animal Science and an advisor to the Pork Checkoff's YPQA Plus curriculum.
"There's a lot of pride that comes along with producing food - and understandably - a lot of responsibility. Youth PQA Plus helps make today's young farmers more aware of their personal responsibility, and the tools available to meet this duty."
Austin Langemeier is a third-generation livestock producer from Texas. As a young producer, he has shown livestock in state and national swine shows where Youth PQA Plus certification has been required. To Austin, the benefits of certification continue to grow.
"Youth PQA Plus is a unique experience and allows me to better understand my purpose in raising swine with a focus on the big picture. I understand the true endpoint and meaning of market animals - feeding the world - creating the protein necessary in any person's diet," Langemeier said. "Youth PQA Plus really hit home for me. My show pig is not an animal for my personal enjoyment, but serves a larger purpose.
When the community and consumers come to shows across the nation, they personally see how their food is raised and the care that goes into it. Youth PQA Plus training has enhanced my personal understanding and role as a swine producer."
More information on the revised Youth PQA Plus program is available at www.pork.org/certification. Click on the Youth PQA Plus link.