News from the National Pork Board

Pork checkoff logoYouth PQA program launched

The Pork Checkoff now has a new Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) program speci-fically for the nation's pork producers who are 9 to 18 years of age. The program is designed to help assure the safety and wholesomeness of the food products that youth produce through their 4-H and National FFA Organization projects.

All youth certified in the PQA Level III program will continue to be certified until their certification expires. They will then need to certify in the new Youth PQA program to remain current. The program will focus on the same 10 good production practices; however, the content of the good production practices must be reviewed each year, while a portion of the PQA materials may be taught in depth. The Youth PQA program is designed so that all good production practices are covered in depth over a 3-year period.

The Youth PQA program includes interactive and exploratory learning activities targeted for youth. Materials include tips on how to conduct a youth quality assurance program, technical support for the Youth PQA program, and optional program ideas and suggestions. These activities include a food continuum puzzle and an ear notching exercise, with other information on record keeping. On the technical side, these optional program ideas include much information on proper use of animal health-care products, including use of needles and how hazard analysis and critical control points relate to food safety.

Also, fact sheets are available on current issues, and complementary topics will add variety to the annual youth education program. Current fact sheets include topics such as ethics in youth livestock programs and food safety. For example, the fact sheet on food safety includes information about the food supply continuum and explains how many of the steps that pork producers take to improve pork safety also are beneficial to swine health.

Information regarding the new Youth PQA program can be found online at A PQA manual, a list of minimum standards for the Youth PQA program, and key learning objectives are among the many materials included.

PQA certification extended to three-year program

Pork producers certified in Level III PQA now will remain certified for 3 years, an extension from the previous certification period of 2 years. The change comes as part of the restructuring of the program, including Youth PQA. All producers over the age of 18 will be granted an additional year to their current certification. New certificates will be issued to producers prior to expiration of their current certification. For more information, contact the National Pork Board at 800-456-PORK.

Unified Research Review held

The Pork Checkoff held its annual Unified Research Review in Des Moines, Iowa, in February. The Pork Checkoff's producer committees reviewed 106 proposals to receive Checkoff funding. The National Pork Board approved a budget to allocate more than $850,000 in competitive research grants for 2004, in addition to targeted research funding.

The committees, including Swine Health, Pork Safety, and Animal Welfare and Environment, selected a total of 22 projects. These were submitted to the board for review and approval for funding. Investigators were notified in March and they will receive funding beginning in May. Priorities for 2004 include environment/on-farm; environment/public health; swine health, including porcine respiratory disease complex, circovirus-associated diseases, breeding herd syndromes, and biosecurity; animal welfare topics, such as sow gestation housing, sow longevity, and space requirements; and antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial production enhancers. A complete listing of research priorities is available at in the research section.