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Get a Jump on Your PQA Internal Site Assessments

Updated December 19, 2018

Heidi Carroll

SDSU Extension Livestock Stewardship Field Specialist & Beef Quality Assurance Coordinator

Spring is coming fast, so before planting gets underway take some time to conduct an internal site assessment as part of the PQA Plus Site Assessment criteria.

Internal vs. PQA Plus Site Assessments

Pig farmers have a strong commitment to raising safe, wholesome pork. Participation in the Pork Quality Assurance® Plus program, or PQA Plus, is a part of this commitment between farmers and consumers. Farms identified by a Premise Identification Number (PIN) and associated with a PQA Plus certified producer work with a trained PQA Plus Advisor. The PQA Plus Advisor, together with the producer, completes a PQA Plus Site Assessment once every three years to achieve PQA Plus site status. When new barns are built, PQA Plus site status should be achieved within 6 months of operation or before animals are marketed from the site.

Alternatively, internal site assessments are an ongoing assessment of the PQA Plus site status. Internal site assessments are conducted by the producer, supervisor, site manager, or other internal animal welfare auditor. Internal site assessments cover four areas: facilities, animals, caretakers, and farm procedures. Any assessment tool that covers these four areas of the operation is acceptable to meet this criteria. Don’t already have an internal assessment tool? No problem, simply use the PQA Plus site assessment form that the PQA Plus advisor uses. Using this form will help to ensure that the same areas covered by a PQA Plus Advisor during a site assessment are reviewed on a regular basis.

Questions 14 and 19 of the PQA Plus Site Assessment form address each of these types of assessment criteria.

  • Question 14: Does the site have a valid PQA Plus Site Status?
  • Question 19: Does the site conduct internal site assessments of the facility, animals, caretakers, and procedures (breeding = quarterly; non-breeding = semi-annually)?

How often should internal site assessments be conducted?

The frequency of conducting internal site assessments depends on the type of operation: breeding or non-breeding farms. The PQA Plus Site Assessment asks producers to conduct semi-annual internal site assessments for non-breeding farms, or two per year. Breeding farms should conduct internal site assessments quarterly, or four per year. The end of March brings the end of the first quarter, so sow farms should be wrapping up their first internal site assessment. Nursery and finishing farms may consider setting a calendar reminder to conduct their first internal site assessment by July 31st.

How do I renew my PQA Plus Site Status?

Producers can contact a PQA Plus advisor to schedule a PQA Plus Site Assessment for their farm. To locate an advisor in your area, visit the Pork Quality Assurance® Plus website and click on the “Locate an Advisor” button. South Dakota producers can contact any member of the SDSU Extension Swine Team to schedule a date.