Growing up on a farm in southwest Missouri there was plenty of work to go around. My Dad and Grandpa instilled in me hard work and follow-through, expecting me to finish my job every day. My job was to care for the pigs, which included watering, feeding and making sure the environment was right.
I always took special care of the piglets after they were born – making sure the right injections were given and that they were processed (castrated and vaccinated) correctly. We worked with our local veterinarian and learned about all of the best practices to use.
Today, the pork industry uses the PQA (Pork Quality Assurance) Plus program to teach best practices to farmers through their certification program which lasts for 3 years. The PQA program, started in 1989, is a voluntary program that certifies Producers, Care Takers, FFA and 4H individuals on ways to reduce the risk of violative animal health product residues in pork. In 2007, the PQA Program was enhanced to become the PQA Plus Program, which works to ensure that US pork products are of the highest quality and animal health and well-being are a top priority.
The updated PQA Revisions to the PQA Plus 3.0 were announced during the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa in June.
The updated program, effective June 8, 2016, reflects pork producers’ commitment to continuous improvement and more fully incorporates the six “We Care” ethical principles and the role of site managers.
These are the six Principles:
- Produce safe food.
- Protect and promote animal well-being.
- Ensure practices to protect public health.
- Safeguard natural resources in all of our practices.
- Provide a work environment that is safe and consistent with our ethical principles.
- Contribute to a better quality of life in our communities.
Research information has been incorporated to increase the program’s effectiveness and to help ensure its validity with customers and consumers. Pork producers maintain a commitment to providing a safe, high-quality product while promoting animal well-being, environmental stewardship, and public health.
The PQA Plus program includes:
- The six We Care ethical principles.
- The 10 Good Production Practices.
- Caretaker’s daily flow of responsibilities.
- On farm site assessment.
- Flexibility in the program allows for customization of SOP’s.
- Online training in 14 individual modules.
- Aid in preparing for implementation of Food and Drug Administration Guidance #209 and #213 on Jan. 1, 2017; a new 12-page “Responsible Antibiotics Use Guide” accompanies the new version of PQA Plus.
The Pork Industry is committed to leading the way on safety and accountability. The Pork industry is committed to educating and certifying individuals. Whether you have a 4000 head wean to finish site or you have four show pigs for the local fair, hold each other accountable for doing what is right.
Today, farming is a lot different than it was 40 years ago, with science and technology leading the way, but as a producer, it comes back to doing the right thing for the animals you care for.
God has blessed us with taking care of the animals and the environment and it is our job to be as responsible as we can.
Want to be PQA Plus Certified? Visit their website to learn more.
Author: Matt Joyce, Manager – Swine Industry Sales, VAL-CO