Youth pork producers provided with an educational opportunity through quality assurance programming

Youth Pork Quality Assurance programs help youth gain production management skills, learn how to provide proper animal care and set animal well-being standards for the pork industry.

The 2011 Youth Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) Plus program in Michigan is up and running. Youth PQA Plus is a program for youth involved and interested in raising pigs and is a component of the PQA Plus program that was established by the National Pork Board in 1989.  The youth piece of the PQA Plus program was developed in 2003 and continues to be the primary education arena for youth producers. The pork industry recognizes the fact that youth contribute to the pork industry and therefore has included them in the effort to produce safe, healthy and wholesome products on an industry-wide basis.  At this time, many pork processers are requiring that all producers hold a current PQA Plus certification.

In order for youth to become certified in the Youth PQA Plus program, they must attend an educational session taught by a Youth PQA Plus advisor. Advisors are Extension Educators, veterinarians or agriscience teachers that have completed the proper training and been certified by the PQA Plus state trainer.  During this program, the advisor will discuss and review the ten good production practices for raising pigs. The focus of these production practices is to provide youth with the knowledge that aids them in giving the best care possible to their animals and help to insure the consumer that they are purchasing the highest quality product, which was raised using animal well-being standards.

Once the youth has completed this educational portion of the program they will be certified for one year and entered into the national database. Upon completion of the educational requirement youth ages 12 to 19 years old have the option to complete a standardized test. If the youth completes the test with a passing grade of 70% they will receive a certification that expires in three years or when they reach the next age level. The exam process will also be proctored by a Youth PQA Plus advisor.  

Currently,Michigan State University Extension is handling the management of this program in Michigan and continues to provide leadership for all pork quality assurance programs.  More information about Youth PQA Plus classes in Michigan can be found on the Michigan State University Animal Science website.  You can also contact the Youth PQA Plus state trainers Beth Ferry (269) 445-4439 or by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and Ira Krupp at (517) 279-4311 or by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information on this program.

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