The livestock industry has used quality assurance programs for many years to help promote their products, and those programs are constantly being updated.
Sarah Crawford, assistant vice president of animal welfare for the National Pork Board, says the programs evolve with the industry.
“The Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) has been around since 1989, and over the years we have expanded that to PQA Plus,” she says. “We want to make sure we are incorporating the latest scientific knowledge, and to make our producers the best they can be.”
Crawford says a task force takes a look at the program yearly, and an updated version is slated to be released next month. This represents the fourth version of PQA Plus. Changes include:
- A first-time certification program provides new caretakers with basic knowledge needed to work in the industry. This 75-minute presentation includes core content.
- Re-certification training allows experienced caretakers to renew their certification with their advisor or online.
- Customized presentations: Advisors can customize a portion of the training to fit the caretaker or group, based upon experience and skills that need refreshed. Beyond the core training, additional content is available for advisors to focus on particular areas of production.
Crawford says these revisions give producers more options than they had in the past when it comes to certification.
“The re-certification programs allows those producers to learn even more,” Crawford says. For most, this is a 90-minute process that can be done in person or online.
The program also includes an on-site assessment, where both good and bad are discussed with the producer. Following that is the Common Swine Industry Audit, a voluntary process that is required by many packing plants.
“It’s important to be able to show the industry is committed to doing what is best for the animals daily,” Crawford says.
More information on PQA Plus can be found online at https://bit.ly/2PJMoZc.
The Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program has evolved from the Beef Safety Assurance program developed in 1970. Rusty Gibbs, director of industry relations for the Iowa Beef Industry Council, says the program is a method beef producers can use to capture more value from market cattle.
At the same time, he says, it shows consumers the industry is confident in the quality of beef and how it cares for cattle.
“People want to know producers are doing the right thing,” Gibbs says.
He says most states have active BQA programs, and Iowa currently has just under 20,000 producers certified. The certification is valid for three years.
There are 12 different principles involved in BQA that outline the beef industry’s commitment to animal welfare and production of a safe product. In addition to BQA, a transportation quality assurance certification program will be offered next year. Gibbs says this will be required for anyone hauling cattle, whether their own or for other producers.
“We’re pretty excited about this,” he says.
More information on BQA can be found online at https://www.bqa.org.