Reflecting a commitment to the U.S. pork industry and its customers, 10,000 pork producers have become certified in the Pork Quality Plus Assurance Program (PQA Plus).

The National Pork Board launched PQA Plus at the World Pork Expo in June 2007.

“We launched with the goal of having 5,000 PQA Plus certified individuals by the end of that year,” reports Tim Bierman, an Iowa pork producer and member of the Pork Board. “That first target was reached and program support has grown steadily since then. We consider it a success that 10,000 producers have become certified.”

Educating producers on PQA Plus spans about 28 states and more than 780 advisers/trainers. “We could not have reached these many producers without the tireless work of the PQA Plus advisors and trainers,” says Bierman. “Having the support of these highly educated individuals is additional proof that there is value in this program.”

Bierman attended PQA Plus training and was certified in October 2007. In November, he and his advisor performed the site assessment of Bierman Farms.

“In today’s world, most people don’t really want to know the details of my job. They just want to know that the pork I produce is safe and that the pigs are humanely cared for,” he says. “But while it used to be enough for me to do the right thing, today it’s important that I prove that I do the right thing.

“By becoming PQA Plus certified, packers, processors, restaurants and retailers can have the confidence in the safety of my product and the husbandry practices that I employ as I care for my animals,” notes Bierman. “It’s a step toward gaining their trust.”

Bierman and other members of the National Pork Board know the value of gaining the trust from consumers, which has served as the impetus for developing an image-building program for the industry.

One such effort, the Statement of Ethical Principles for U.S. Pork Producers, was announced at the Pork Industry Forum in early March in St. Louis, MO.

“The statement of ethical principles, PQA Plus, the Transport Quality Assurance program and the responsible use of antibiotics program (Take Care) are proof of our commitment to producing safe pork and prioritizing the well-being of our animals and the development of our communities. But without producer support, these programs don’t mean anything.

“Producers have the tools to satisfy customers’ concerns and show consumers that we are accountable for our actions. The programs are voluntary and it’s up to us to receive the training and make sure we are following good production practices,” says Bierman.

Pork producers from 43 states voted at the Pork Industry Forum to support PQA Plus and direct the Pork Board to ask all U.S. pork producers to participate in the program within the next three years.