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 Dave Stender said that certification under the new PQA™ Plus program also will be valid 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.)
Training sessions for PQA™ Plus certification are being set for northwest Iowa, including two locations on July 19 and a third location on Aug. 23. Stender said those interested in attending should contact him as soon as possible to be sure adequate materials will be available.
"On July 19, there will be a morning session in Sheldon and an evening session in Storm Lake," he said. "There also will be an afternoon session on Aug. 23 in Cherokee."
All meetings will be two hours long and have a $25 per person registration fee. To register, contact Stender by phone at the Cherokee County Extension office at (712) 225-6196 or his mobile phone at (712) 261-0225, and indicate which of the sessions you plan to attend:
July 19, 10 a.m. Sheldon, Building A, Room 119 at NICC
July 19, 7 p.m. Storm Lake, AEA Building
Aug. 23. 1 p.m. Cherokee, County Extension Office
Stender 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.