High Plains Journal, KS 06-15-07

High Plains Journal, KS
Pork program promises producer's accountability to the consumer
By Jennifer Bremer
Pork producers want to demonstrate accountability, trust and social responsibility
to their customers and a newly launched program will do that.
Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus) was officially launched on June 7 at the
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.
"As producers there are a lot of things we do that make common sense, but now
we need to demonstrate these to our customers."
PQA Plus incorporates an animal well-being component into the previous PQA
program. Basically it will be a combination of the Pork Checkoff's Swine Welfare
Assurance Program and the Pork Quality Assurance 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.
Peugh stressed that the program was set up to be credible, workable and
affordable for pork producers. It was designed to work for producers of all sizes
and all production styles.
"Acceptance of the program is critical between producers and veterinarians to
work together to make it happen," he said.
The American Association of Swine Veterinarians have participated in the
development and testing of PQA Plus.
"The AASV is pleased to support PQA Plus and we are looking forward to its
implementation," said Dr. Daryl Olsen, AASV president. "Animal care and well
being is important for the continued production of safe and high quality pork."
He said that his group will continue to educate and train veterinarians in proper
pork quality assurance practices.
Prior to the launch of the program, it was tested with producers of all sizes and
production styles to make sure it is workable for everyone producing pork. 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.
"There were several challenges that were addressed and led to changes in
production methods for the well-being of the animals," said Larry McMullen,
Iowa State University swine field specialist.
McMullen said that the challenges included determining the best environment for
gestating, lactating, early weaning and finishing hogs. The program focuses on
the needs of all producers and is set up to help save the producer both time and
money with their management practices.
"This program needs to allow all producers to assure pork safety and well being
to the consumers," he said.
A nationwide network of trained and certified advisors will work with pork
producers to help them become PQA Plus certified. Nearly 70 of these advisors
made up of veterinarians, extension staff and educators will be located in 35
states. The certification will be valid for three years and 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.
Site status can be audited at any time after June 2008, when producers would be
accountable for their practices.
The first class of producers received PQA Plus certification at the World Pork
Expo. That group included members of the National Pork board of directors and
the Pork Leadership Academy.
"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."