Murphy-Brown officials report that the firm is on schedule to complete the certification and farm-site assessments of the Pork Quality Assurance Plus program for all of its U.S. company-owned and contract grower pork production farms before year's end. Murphy-Brown, Warsaw, N.C., is the livestock production subsidiary of Smithfield Foods.
"PQA Plus certification is further evidence of Murphy-Brown's industry leading commitment to socially responsible, sustainable pork production and continual improvement," says Don Butler, Murphy-Brown's director of government relations and public affairs, as well as the company's animal welfare committee chair.
PQA Plus is an enhanced version of the pork industry's quality assurance program originally introduced in 1989. The program was significantly upgraded to include new "Good Production Practices" and an on-farm assessment. PQA Plus certification and the accompanying site assessments will be renewed on an ongoing basis.
Butler points out that PQA Plus certification is an important component of Murphy-Brown's commitment to the U.S. pork industry's Statement of Ethical Principles. Within those principles is a commitment to: produce safe food, protect and promote animal well-being, ensure practices to protect public health, safeguard natural resources, provide a safe work environment and contribute to quality of life within communities.
Murphy-Brown is on pace to complete PQA Plus certification and farm-site assessments for all 480 company-owned farms by Sept. 30. The company will assist about 1,700 independent farmers who grow animals for Murphy-Brown to complete the program as well. "We are doing these things because it is the right thing to do and because we care about our people and our animals. Ensuring their well-being is our top priority," says Bulter.
He further points to the company's programs that include environmental protection through its ISO 14001-certified Environmental Management System; its animal-welfare management program; its Animal Rescue Units, which respond to vehicle accidents involving animals; and in wildlife habitat enhancement efforts, involving cooperative agreements with state wildlife agencies such as Ducks Unlimited and others.
"Murphy-Brown strongly urges all 67,000 U.S. pork producers to pursue PQA Plus certification and site assessments as soon as possible," notes Butler. It also asks all U.S. packers and processors to encourage their live-hog suppliers to complete PQA Plus certification and site assessments at the earliest possible time.