The National Pork Board supports animal welfare guidelines based on sound science through the Pork Quality Assurance Plus™ program. PQA Plus™ was created to integrate industry practices that insure food safety and animal welfare; it was developed by several university researchers, pork producers representing 13 states and all production system types and allied industry representatives. The program combines guidelines for providing proper care to improve swine well-being with curriculum that specifically addresses caretaker training, animal observation, emergency back-up support, space allocation, timely euthanasia, facilities, handling and movement, ventilation and air quality, and zero tolerance for willful acts of abuse. Most major packers require producers to be PQA Plus certified to ensure the food animals meet quality assurance protocols. The program has three stages, as follows:
- Individual certification through producer education
- Site status through on-farm site assessment
- Opportunity for on-farm audits
PQA Plus™ demonstrates the commitment U.S. pork producers make to providing pork that is safe, high quality and responsibly produced. To review the PQA Plus program, visit http://www.pork.org/Producers/PQAP.aspx?c=PQAP.
The industry also administers a Transport Quality Assurance (TQA) program. It provides guidelines on handling, loading, transport, and unloading of all sizes of pigs. The program is geared toward on-farm animal handlers, transporters, and those who handle pigs at the destination site. It is a voluntary education/certification program that may be required by packers and producers.