Animal Care Verification Program

CLIENT: National Pork Board And National Pork Producers Council

The Challenge

Now more than ever, farmers have access to many tools and resources to better care for their animals and meet consumer demand. Farmers are eager to share their story about how they care for and raise pigs. However, few people have firsthand knowledge of what modern pig farming looks like and customers are demanding verification and guidelines for animal care.  

The U.S. food supply chain has earned a global reputation for the strong production protocols and safety of its products. In today’s environment, that reputation alone was not enough to provide customers and consumers the assurance that pig well-being was a consistent priority on U.S. farms. They wanted a third-party verification that animals were receiving appropriate care. But, for farmers, adopting new verification processes seemed like an unnecessary task.

The Results

Our Approach

Creating a new verification system was a joint effort between the National Pork Board and National Pork Producers Council. The National Pork Board oversees the Pork Checkoff, which provides research, education and promotion services on behalf of each of the U.S.’s 68,000 pork producers. National Pork Producers Council is a trade association representing U.S. pork producers and other industry stakeholders on policy issues.  

Look East identified and interviewed professionals across the supply chain to discover the biggest concerns and challenges. With the help of farmers and the associations, we then facilitated the development of a verification system that would be supported by farmers, packers, customers and consumers. The final product was the Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA® Plus) education and certification program. PQA® Plus provides a framework for significant, relevant food safety standards and animal wellbeing. In addition to the framework, the program provides handbooks, employee resources, a site assessment guide as well as measurement and feedback to drive continuous improvement on farm.  

To build upon the certifications from PQA® Plus and to further prepare pork farms for increased audits, Look East facilitated industry development of the Common Swine Industry Audit for third-party verification. This is a single, common audit platform for the pork industry to provide customers and consumers greater assurance of animal well-being and food safety. 

The Results

PQA® Plus was launched in 2007 as a joint effort of the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council.  

This voluntary certification program has been adopted by 71,000 farmers and farm personnel on more than 18,000 farms. It has expanded and improved over the years based on scientific advancements and recommendations of a network of more than 1,200 certified PQA Plus technology and animal agriculture experts. More than 90% of pork marketed in the US comes from a PQA certified production system.