Cargill Pork was the first in the industry to announce a program to purchase hogs only from farms that have been certified under the National Pork Board’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus program. Now, the company has achieved additional major animal welfare assurance advancements in the production, handling, transportation and harvest of hogs.

The company has reported it achieved its goal of having 50 percent of contract farms using group sow housing over traditional gestation stalls for pregnant sows. “We decided to take a leadership role in sow housing because we think it’s the right thing to do to support our customers and our brand,” said Dirk Jones, Cargill Pork president. “As we contract with new grower operations, they too will need to meet Cargill’s sow housing standards.”

Cargill also instituted the pork industry’s Transport Quality Assurance Program and requires truck drivers who deliver animals to the company’s plants to be certified in the program. TQA is a system of training and performance measures for the handling and transportation of pigs. Any hauler not certified may not pass through the company gates.

“It is straightforward -- if a driver isn’t certified, he’s stopped at our gates,” said Jones. “We decided to step up and take a leadership role to help ensure that all parts of the supply chain do what is needed.”

 “We believe we have created the most comprehensive, humane animal handling training and certification program in the industry to ensure that we are being conscientious about the animals under our care and protection,” Jones said. Cargill Pork also has implemented an animal rescue program to respond to emergencies during transportation. The company is spearheading a national effort with The Pork Board to make animal rescue a national program.

For over two years, Cargill has demonstrated its commitment to animal welfare through the use of video monitoring in its plants. Video monitoring is designed to help animal welfare management teach and monitor performance in animal handling. In the future, this system will be enhanced by new technologies.