The National Pork Board has adopted a resolution asking all U.S. pork producers to become certified in the Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) Plus program by June 30, 2010 and to achieve PQA Plus site status by Dec. 31, 2010.

The board is also requesting producers adopt the ethical principles the industry developed in 2008.

National Pork Board President Steve Weaver announced the board’s action at World Pork Expo (WPX) last week in Des Moines, IA.

The PQA program is part of the We Care initiative, and passage of the PQA resolution was designed to boost the overall program.

“We Care is important because it gives pork producers the opportunity to talk about what they do on their farms in terms of the ethical principles that guide them and the practices they employ,” says Weaver, a California pork producer. “That’s a conversation we want to have with as many people as we can.

“PQA Plus is important because it includes steps that allow us to demonstrate directly to our customers that we are raising animals and producing pork in a socially responsible way.”

Weaver adds that thousands of pork producers are already certified in PQA Plus and have had their operations site assessed. In May, the number of producers who have been certified in PQA Plus reached 30,000.

“I also encourage them to join the producers from across the United States who have pledged their support for We Care,” he says.

AgStar Financial Services and Tyson Foods Inc. both pledged financial support for the We Care program at WPX. The move was applauded by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), which partnered with the Pork Board in developing the program to help show producers are committed to caring for their animals, producing safe food, protecting the environment and public health and contributing to the communities where they live. PQA Plus provides guidelines on food safety and animal well-being.

AgStar Financial presented NPPC and the Pork Board $50,000 to develop and operate a Web site for the We Care initiative.

Tyson Foods donated $10,000 to conduct on-farm assessments. It also announced that it will require all of its hog suppliers to become PQA Plus-certified by June 30, 2010. Suppliers will need to have their operations assessed by Dec. 31, 2010.

Besides Tyson, Hormel Foods, Hatfield Quality Meats, JBS Swift, Farmer John, Independent Meats and others have announced hog suppliers must become PQA Plus-certified and conduct on-farm assessments.

“We are extremely appreciative of AgStar and Tyson for their public endorsement of the ‘We Care’ program,” says R.C. Hunt, chairman of the We Care Advisory Group and a Wilson, NC, pork producer. “Their support is vital, and we hope that other industry partners will join them in backing an initiative that shows the commitment that pork producers have to being conscientious in raising their animals, producing safe food and protecting the land, water and air.”