PQA Plus Reaches 10,000-strong Milestone

US - Pork Checkoff says that 10,000 pork producers have become certified in PQA Plus™. The milestone reflects the industry's renewed commitment to social responsibility and accountability, says the organisation.
calendar icon 1 April 2008
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Also, at the recent Pork Industry Forum, pork producers representing 43 states voted in support of PQA Plus by advising the National Pork Board to ask all US pork producers to participate in the program within the next three years.

PQA Plus was launched at the World Pork Expo in June 2007. Back then the aim was to achieve 5,000 PQA Plus certified individuals by the end of that year, buts that's been well and truly beaten, says Tim Bierman, a Iowa pork producer and member of the National Pork Board.

"Program support has grown steadily and we consider it a success that 10,000 producers have become certified," he added.

Mr Bierman gained his certification in October 2007 and he performed the site assessment of Bierman Farms with a PQA advisor in the November.

"In today's world, most people don't really want to know the details of my job. They just want to know that the pork I produce is safe and that the pigs are humanely cared for. Today it's important that I prove that I do the right thing," he adds.

Substantial Support Network

The base of PQA Plus Advisors, the individuals responsible for imparting producer education, spans over 28 states and includes over 780 people. And the success of the scheme is testament to the dedication and drive of the support network behind it.

"We could not have reached these many producers without the tireless work of the PQA Plus Advisors and Trainers. Having the support of these highly educated individuals is additional proof that there is value in this program," says Mr Bierman.

By becoming PQA Plus certified, packers, processors, restaurants and retailers can have the confidence in the safety of pork products and the husbandry practices used on PQA member farms.

Valuable Industry Asset

The National Pork Board recognises the value of gaining the trust of customers and consumers. With that in mind, they have encouraged the development of other image-building practices for the industry. One of them, the Statement of Ethical Principles for US Pork Producers, was presented to producers at the Pork Industry Forum in St Louis, Missouri last month.

The statement of ethical principles, PQA Plus, the Transport Quality Assurance program, the responsible use of antibiotics program [Take Care] are proof of our commitment to producing safe pork and making welfare a priority. However, without producer support, these programs don't mean anything, says Mr Bierman.

"Producers have the tools to satisfy customers' concerns and show consumers that we are accountable for our actions," he adds.

The PQA programs are voluntary and it's up to producers to receive the training and make sure they follow good production practices. With 10,000 producers now and many more achieving certification every week, the Pork Boards says that the industry is sending a strong message that it is committed to safety and quality.
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