National Pork Board Farm Credit – RAMP Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) Plus Program
The industry’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus) program is the leading educational and continuous improvement program for America’s pork producers. Introduced in 1989, the program was modeled after the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point programs used by food manufacturers to ensure the safety of food products but was customized for on-farm use. Over the years, PQA has expanded and evolved, incorporating the latest scientific knowledge and production methods to cover a spectrum of topics related to food safety and animal well-being. To date, more than 61,000 producers and farm personnel have earned their PQA Plus certification, and site assessments have been conducted on more than 18,000 farms.
The PQA Plus program, which is examined every three years, needed modification to better reflect the growing needs of their primary learners which included pork producers, caretakers, managers, individual operation owners, niche producers, and large system producers. Learners seeking certification were both new and returning users and needed more than one language option to complete the course. Many new learners also had various levels of formal education, ranging from high school diplomas to advanced degrees. The National Pork Board and the PQA Plus Task Force teamed up with Vivayic to develop PQA Plus, version 4.0, a revised certification program that better met the diverse needs of their growing audience.
During development of the certification program, two key aspects were attended to (1) feedback from producers and managers regarding the efficacy and relevance of the program and (2) requested changes to the content and delivery of the program. To ensure the design aligned to the needs of the vast audience, volunteers representing each audience segment were invited to participate in reviews throughout the design and development of the process, authentically informing numerous design decisions for the program revisions.
Values of authenticity and relevancy successfully guided the program revisions and execution. Consistency across the certification program was achieved, while maintaining flexibility for the learner’s individual needs. Relevance of the training in this version was improved for those seeking to recertify, providing impactful and meaningful content that was considered valuable by participants. These caretakers, the primary audience, said the training as presented organized by task was more engaging than previous trainings that had aligned more closely with the flow of the certification handbook. The PQA Plus 4.0 certification revisions further highlighted National Pork Board’s commitment to continuous industry improvement, building confidence among customers and stakeholders in the program’s pledge to responsible pork production practices.