AMES, Iowa -- Pork producers with current Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) Level III certification should be aware that the PQA™ program has been revamped and expanded to include an animal well-being assessment. Because of this new structure and the renaming of the program to PQA Plus™, all existing PQA certifications will not be renewed at the end of the certification period. The Iowa Pork Industry Center (IPIC) and Iowa State University (ISU) Extension are teaming up to provide the necessary certification training.
ISU Extension swine field specialist Jerry Weiss said that certification under the new PQA Plus™ program also will be for three years, and he encourages producers to plan for the future.
"When you need to recertify, you'll go through the new program with a trained advisor, similar to that in the old 'PQA' program," he said. "Getting this new certification meets the needs of many packer buying requirements."
There are differences between the two programs. PQA Plus™, like PQA III, has a producer education component, but it adds an on-site assessment of animal well-being. PQA Plus™ merges the concepts of the former PQA and Swine Welfare AssuranceSM programs -- food safety and animal well-being -- in two steps: Individual certification through education (named PQA Plus™ Certification) and Farm site assessment (named PQA Plus™ Site Status.)
A training session for PQA Plus™ certification is set for Aug. 23 at the Union County Extension Office. Weiss said those interested in attending should register soon to be sure adequate materials will be available. Producers can contact the Union County Extension Office at (641) 782-8426 to register.
"This program will run from 7 to 9 p.m. and cover topics you need to know in order to become certified under the PQA Plus™ program," he said. "There is a $25 per person fee, which can be paid at the door."
Weiss said PQA Plus™ is a workable, credible and affordable solution to assure food safety and animal care. It will help meet the needs of customers including restaurants, food retailers and consumers.