Pork Quality Assurance Plus is valuable to swine producers

An updated PQA Plus version helps keep animal care and food safety on point.

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Site assessment at swine farm, photo courtesy of istockphoto.com

Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus) is an educational tool with a certification component to assist pork producers and their employees with evaluating their production practices and provides a method for continuous improvement through a certification program. This program exemplifies the commitment of swine farmers to efforts to continuously improve production practices. Through the PQA Plus program, the areas of food safety, animal wellbeing, environmental stewardship, worker safety, public health, and community involvement are addressed. The PQA Plus program consists of two separate components. The first is an educational component which allows those involved in pork production to gain individual certification in the program. The second component is an on-farm site assessment which is completed by a certified PQA Plus Advisor. The site assessment evaluates on-farm animal care practices which includes review of records, facilities, equipment, animal care and wellbeing practices.

The process for obtaining PQA Plus certification for an individual requires completion of either an online course or an in-person session with a PQA Plus Advisor. The PQA Plus site assessment process must be completed face-to-face and on-farm with a certified advisor. The age requirement for PQA Plus is 14 years or order. A list of advisors can be found on the Pork Checkoff website, and searching under the certification and tools tab.

Typically, to become a certified PQA Plus Advisor, you must be a veterinarian, Extension Specialist or Educator, or an Ag Educator. Required training includes a, D.V.M. or B.S. or an equivalent degree in Animal Science or associated field plus two years of recent, documentable swine production experience. To obtain PQA Plus site assessment status, you must have a Premise Identification Number (PIN) and complete the educational component of the PQA Plus program. Upon successful completion of the individual PQA training, and PQA site assessment, each certification lasts 3 years; following that period, renewal of each process is required for re-certification.

If you have any questions about PQA Plus or want to get certified as an individual or for your own site, please contact Casey Zangaro at zangaroc@msu.edu, Madonna Benjamin  at gemus@msu.edu, Beth Ferry at franzeli@msu.edu or Dave Thompson at thom1637@msu.edu.

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