Fort Dodge Messenger, IA 06-21-07 Voluntary program helps producers assure food safety

Fort Dodge Messenger, IA
Voluntary program helps producers assure food safety
By Darcy Dougherty Maulsby, Farm News staff
DES MOINES — If your certification through Pork Quality Assurance® (PQA) will
expire soon, it’s time to learn about PQA Plus, the Pork Checkoff’s new,
voluntary solution to assure food safety and good animal care.
“The pork industry is working on programs that will demonstrate to our customers
our accountability, trust and social responsibility in pork production,Ӕ said Wayne
Peugh, a pork producer from Edelstein, Ill., and National Pork Board president
who helped promote the new program at the 2007 World Pork Expo. “PQA Plus
will serve as a foundation to help meet that challenge.î”
As the pork industry’s customers have increased their requests for
documentation of animal care and well-being on the farm, the Pork Checkoff has
combined the core food safety-related content from the PQA program with the
on-farm animal care and well-being components of the Swine Welfare Assure
Program® (SWAP®) program. PQA Plus, which is composed of 10 Good
Production Practices (GPPs) and an on-farm animal well-being assessment, will
provide a workable, credible and affordable solution, said Erik Risa, manager of
certification programs for the National Pork Board.
Producers put program to the test
To make sure producers of all sizes and production styles are able to take
advantage of the PQA Plus program, the Pork Checkoff has been conducting
beta tests on pilot farms. ’’As with any new program, we ran into a few
challenges, said Larry McMullen, an Iowa State University Extension swine
field specialist. ’’The challenges were addressed and resulted in a PQA Plus
program that fosters well-being for animals and allows for production efficiency.
You can become certified in PQA Plus by completing a PQA Plus training
session conducted by a PQA Plus advisor. This certification is valid for three
years, upon which time recertification must be completed. For more information,
log onto You may also call the
Pork Checkoff service center at 800-456-PORK (7675) between 7 a.m. and 5
p.m. (CDT) for assistance in locating a PQA Plus advisor.
Program includes new options
You may also complete additional training to obtain a PQA Plus site selfassessment endorsement, Risa said. This endorsement allows you to conduct a
PQA Plus site self-assessment of an operation you are directly associated with,
on your own. It’s valid for up to three years and expires on the same date as your
PQA Plus certification, regardless of the date of endorsement.
Risa also provided the following answers to common questions about PQA Plus:
Q: I work on a farm but I don’t own or market the pigs. Do I need PQA Plus
A: While PQA Plus is strictly a voluntary program, Pork Checkoff encourages
everyone involved with the production and handling of pigs to become certified.
PQA Plus certification, and the training provided, allows you to review and
enhance your animal caretaker skills along with an opportunity to demonstrate to
the public, and your employer, your commitment to the animals you care for and
for the pork industry as a whole.
Q: What is the difference between PQA Plus’s site status and certification?
A: Site status relates to a specific premises, not a person. Certification relates to
an individual, not a premises. An individual can become certified without having a
premises with site status or even having a connection with a site at all. However,
to gain site status, a premises must have a PQA Plus certified individual
associated with the site at the time the site assessment was conducted.
Q: What are the audits associated with PQA Plus?
A: This involves a third-party auditor who will visit your operation and conduct an
audit based on the same points that were assessed during your on-farm site
assessment. The purpose of the audit is to verify that the entire PQA Plus
program is working. A random sampling of farms that hold site status will be
selected for an audit.
Q: Will my farm be audited?
A: A random sampling of farms that hold site status will be selected for an audit.
Your farm has the same probability of being chosen as every other site that holds
site status in the program. The results of your on-farm site assessment do not
impact your chances of being audited.