The National Pork Board congratulates Hormel Foods for its commitment to the Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus) and Transport Quality Assurance (TQA) programs.

Hormel Foods has announced that all hog purchases by Dec. 31, 2009 will come from producers and their employees who are certified in PQA Plus, have completed well-being assessments on their farms and are TQA-certified.

“This action reaffirms pork producers’ commitment to the U.S. pork industry and its customers,” remarks Tim Bierman, Larabee, IA, PQA Plus-certified pork producer and vice president of the National Pork Board. “We are extremely pleased that Hormel Foods has joined in the pork industry’s effort to focus on the ‘We Care’ pork industry responsible pork initiative by requiring PQA Plus certification and site status.”

PQA Plus is a three-part process, comprising an educational and training session and an on-farm site evaluation to achieve PQA Plus site status. A third part is a random, statistically valid, third-party evaluation of program implementation. Those evaluations will determine whether the industry is improving its overall animal care practices. To date, more than 20,000 pork producers have been certified in PQA Plus.

PQA Plus is a major enhancement to the previous PQA program initiated about 20 years ago, adds Erik Risa, education program manager for the Pork Board. PQA Level 3 made sure every hog was accounted for but certification was only required for the owner, even though that owner may not be touching or interacting with the pigs on a daily basis.

“What Hormel has said is important, and what PQA Plus does, is require that the daily caretakers have that training as well, and so Hormel is going a bit deeper by asking that the producers have all of their employees certified in both PQA Plus and TQA,” he says.

Hormel also believes in the Pork Board’s new We Care Initiative.

“We are honored to fully support the pork industry’s new responsible pork initiative called ‘We Care,’” says Brian Stevens, director of pork procurement, Hormel Foods. “Pork producers do care about retaining the public trust and they demonstrate this by doing things right through their ethical principles. We are encouraging all pork producers to support this great pork industry initiative supported by the National Pork Producers Council and the National Pork Board.”

We Care embraces three critical initiatives designed to improve the trust and image of the pork industry, says Risa. Establish clear principles, good production practices (PQA Plus program) and provide trust through proof.

“Programs like this can demonstrate to others that we do in fact care,” says Risa.

Hormel Foods joins Hatfield Quality Meats and Salmon Creek Farms Marketing Association and Independent Meat Company of Twin Falls, ID, in requiring PQA Plus.