The National Pork Board's Trucker Quality Assurance (TQA) program's focus on the proper handling, loading and transport of pigs optimizes quality pork products for consumers.

“TQA has benefited the pork industry tremendously, and we support it 100%,” says Dave Murray, vice president of livestock procurement with Indiana Packers, Delphi, IN.

The TQA program was launched in 2002 to help alleviate improper pig handling techniques that can lead to fatigued pigs, and millions of dollars a year in losses.

If a fatigued pig arrives at a packing plant, the producer may receive a 50% discount for that pig. At Indiana Packers, every fatigued pig causes at least five minutes of downtime that backs up the entire system.

“As a producer, you can spend a lot of time nurturing a pig to market weight, but you can undo all that hard work if animals aren't loaded and transported properly,” Murray says. “By creating accountability among producers and the people transporting the animals, TQA benefits the entire pork production chain.”

Everyone who works in Indiana Packers' hog procurement department is required to be TQA-certified and must complete an internal livestock handling program as well.

“I believe our biggest risk is the mishandling of livestock at the plant, since it's the fastest way for us to be shut down. TQA has helped our relationship with USDA inspectors, because we can show them animals are being handled humanely.”