The Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO) has scheduled Meat Plant Welfare Auditor Certification Training courses for April 30-May 1 at two sites in Nebraska.

The training is the first step in becoming a certified auditor. The course features classroom instruction and hands-on experience at the plants of Hormel Foods at Fremont, NE, and Cargill Beef, Schuyler, NE.

Course instructors include Temple Grandin of Grandin Livestock Handling Systems; Jerome Lawler, professional auditor for Silliker, Inc.; Kellye Pfalzgraf, director of the Office of Animal Well-Being for Tyson Foods, Inc.; and Mike Siemens, beef program development director for Cargill, Inc.

Since the first course was held in February 2006, PAACO has certified 34 meat plant welfare auditors, with about 38 more in the process of completing auditing requirements.

PAACO Executive Director Mike Simpson says the program has gained stature in the last two years. “More and more, customers and those firms being audited say that they are reaching a point where they will only utilize auditors who have the PAACO training and certification,” he says. “Retailers, restaurants and others in the industry recognize our value to them as they move toward more involvement with animal welfare issues.”

The classes fill up fast, so Simpson urges interested parties to apply immediately. Registration deadline is March 31.

For more course information and registration materials go to PAACO’s Web site, www.animalauditor.org or contact Simpson at (402) 403-0104 or e-mail mike@animalauditor.org.