PQA Plus Version 5.0 Emphasizes Farmers’ Commitment to Produce the Best Pork


By Jennifer Shike, FarmJournal's Pork 

July 28, 2022


A commitment to continuous learning is one thing that separates the best from the rest. And pork production is no exception. That’s why the National Pork Board launched PQA Plus Version 5.0 this summer – to provide producers an opportunity to continually improve and build on their knowledge base while setting the U.S. pork industry apart from its competitors.


The PQA Plus program serves as a reminder for experienced personnel while providing uniform basic training for new personnel on the critical elements for how to ensure the pork we produce is safe for consumers, and animal well-being is optimized, explains professor and Extension specialist Robert Knox of the University of Illinois.


Jan Archer, a North Carolina pig farmer and PQA Plus advisor, says Version 5.0 has a lot of perks to offer.


“I truly believe every version is an improvement over the previous one. This version is not only clearer and more concise, it’s significantly more interactive. The opportunity to talk, use critical thinking and interact with the program helps the students embrace and remember what they have learned,” Archer says.


An advisor for 13 years, Archer says the voluntary PQA Plus program, arguably the flagship certification program of the Pork Checkoff, provides proof of, and accountability to, the ethical principles pork producers follow. Because of the success of the program, most packers require PQA Plus certification from the farms that supply animals to them.


Although any adult can be certified in PQA Plus, it’s most often animal handlers and some office staff who go through certification, she adds. Participants can attend classes in person or online, followed by a 25-question test. A site assessment also takes place in which the farm itself undergoes a 93-point inspection. The certification for both the handler and the farm lasts for three years. 


“It’s a great way to invest in staff and make sure all animal handlers are on the same page and have the same expectations,” Archer adds.


Why a New Version? ...


Is It All Review? ...