James D. McKean, Faculty, Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine
In June 2007 the National Pork Board (NPB) launched a new quality assurance program focused on improved food safety and animal welfare at the farm level. Program development occurred with inputs from retailers, packers and producers, and was designed to supersede the Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) and Swine Welfare Assurance Program (SWAP). The new program requires that PQAPlus Advisors be specifically trained to provide educational and complete assessment activities for pork producers in these emphasis areas. Program standards limited qualified Advisors to veterinarians, animal scientists or adult educators with 2 years recent swine experience as a method to assure that quality information and evaluations would be carried forward. In earlier iterations of PQA no training or qualifications were required. All potential Advisors were required to attend this day-long training session and to pass a test to determine proficiency in application of information and methodologies to be provided to producers. It is anticipated that producer certification and premises assessment will be required for sale of swine to all major USA packers.
Develop a cadre of individuals who met program standards for qualifications, successful completion of the training and examination sufficient to meet the needs of Iowa pork producers of all sizes.
A series of 10 meetings were held throughout Iowa to introduce the new PQAPlus program for potential Advisors. Attendance was limited to 30 qualified individuals per session to assure that educational needs were met and sufficient opportunity for questions would be allowed. Each training session included 6.0 hours of lecture/discussion that covered the materials and programmatic applications prescribed by the NPB. Following the lecture/discussion period an examination was administered to assess attendees’ proficiency in the materials covered. In addition we were responsible to determine qualifications based on a pre-meeting survey and to grade the examinations. As the administrator of these sessions we were required to notify NPB of the individuals who successfully completed the program and test requirements.
A total of 243 of 249 qualified individuals completed the coursework and successfully passed the examination. These individuals immediately began to educate and certify producers in the new PQAPlus program. Producer certification enabled Advisors to educate participants on current and emerging issues of proper drug usage to reduce residues and resistant bacteria expression, reduce physical defects (needles), and increase awareness of proper euthanasia, animal handling and facility maintenance to increase animal welfare. Premises assessment to assure that the educational lessons have been applied at the farm level are on-going. Based on past history certified producers of all sizes will improve their on-farm practices to the benefit of their animals and consumers, and raise the industry standards collectively. Programmatically on-farm improvement will be compiled through a third-party audit process of selected assessed premises.
150 Iowa Pork Industry Center
Page last updated:
August 25, 2008
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