Quality Assurance Programs

The first Pork Quality Assurance® program was established in 1989. It is an education and certification program focused on improved animal well-being and food safety standards. Generally, anyone working with pigs has to have at least one of these certifications to sell pigs into the marketplace or qualify to show pigs at fairs or expositions. 

PQA Plus®

Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA Plus®) provides a framework for significant, relevant food safety standards and improved animal well-being. Pork producers are proud of our commitment to continuous improvement, and this program supports that.  PQA Plus is regularly revised to increase its effectiveness, incorporate new research information and ensure the program’s validity.

You can receive training and certification either from scheduled in-person events or on-line.

Once you have received your training and passed the tests, you must re-certify every three years to assure you are meeting the newest standards. 

There is also PQA Plus site assessment, which is designed to evaluate animal care practices on farms and is conducted by a PQA Plus Advisor. This on-farm assessment includes review of records, facilities, equipment, animal care and well-being practices.

PQA Plus certificate numbers for both sites and people are often required for selling to most packing plants. Those who work with pigs may also have to have a PQA Plus certificate to demonstrate they have met employment requirements. Check with your packer or employer to understand their PQA certification requirements.

PQA Plus maintains the food safety tradition that ensures U.S. pork products continue to be recognized domestically and internationally as the highest quality and safest available.

Transport Quality Assurance®

Transport Quality Assurance (TQA) is a program that helps pig producers, handlers, and truckers understand how to handle, move and transport pigs in a way that keeps animal well-being and pork quality top-of mind.

Anyone who handles or transports pigs, or sets protocols for handling pigs, is a potential influencer of animal well-being and pork quality. Research has shown that using good animal handling practices benefits the pig, the handler and the industry. TQA certification demonstrates that a handler is committed to promoting and protecting pig well-being.

Youth Quality Assurance Program

The Youth for the Quality Care of Animals (YQCA) curriculum enhances the educational experience for youth who show or produce livestock. It is a national, multi-species, science-based program for ages 8 to 21. The training is delivered in age-appropriate materials for junior, intermediate, senior, and young adult groups.

YQCA was developed by a group of livestock industry professionals and educators, and expands on a program developed by the National Pork Board. The program focuses on three core pillars – animal well-being, food safety, and character development.

YQCA certification can be earned in three ways — online training, instructor-led training, or test out. As noted, the training applies to swine and other species such as cattle, sheep, goats, etc., so this is good training for youth working with several species.

Certification for Fairs and Livestock Shows

YQCA certification is accepted – and may be required  for many state fairs and other livestock shows that require youth quality assurance certification.