After a one-year phase-in that began in June 2007, Youth PQA Plus will completely replace Youth PQA as the food safety, antibiotic use and animal well-being awareness and education program for producers of ages eight to 18.
On June 1, 2008, Youth PQA Plus will be the only program available for youth producers. The program mirrors the content of the industry's Pork Quality Assurance Plus, or PQA Plus, but presents it in format conducive to the learning of youth.
"Youth PQA Plus ensures that pigs raised by youth producers, including pigs raised as 4-H and FFA projects, are raised following the good production practices in PQA Plus," said Erik Risa of the National Pork Board. "Youth will learn or have an opportunity to reinforce their knowledge of animal health product administration, residue and hazard avoidance in pork, use of antibiotics, recordkeeping and animal care," he added.
"PQA Plus reaches most of the pigs commercially produced in the country, but it's important that youth producers do their part to assure our industry's customers that pork is safe and that they follow animal care practices that promote animal well-being," Risa added. "It's not enough to just say we do the right thing anymore. Our customers, including packers, food service and retailers want to know that regardless of where pork came from, it was produced under certain standards. That applies for pork produced by youth."
The structure behind the youth program is similar to that behind PQA Plus. Youth receive training from certified Youth PQA Plus advisors who have received training from certified Youth PQA Plus (state) trainers. Youth who attend a class will be granted a 1 year certification. Youth aged 12 - 18 have an option to take a closed book test and certify for a multi-year certification.
"Youth PQA Plus advisors and trainers may not be the same people who offered training to youth and educators in the old youth program," Risa said. Individuals wishing to offer youth training must be veterinarians, Extension personnel or secondary/post-secondary agriculture instructors. Qualified candidates must receive Youth PQA Plus advisor training and pass an examination. Advisor certification is valid for three years. Risa added, "We are excited to offer Web-based advisor training and testing as well as the traditional face-to-face sessions. Advisors can work with their state's trainers when deciding what the best option for training is."
Youth PQA Plus state trainers may not be the same people offering advisor certification sessions. Youth PQA Plus trainer candidates also must be veterinarians, Extension specialists or secondary/postsecondary agriculture instructors, complete training and pass an examination.
Current trainers can contact the Pork Checkoff to find out how to complete this training.
Risa will work directly with the states that have a youth program approved as equivalent to Youth PQA.
More information on Youth PQA Plus can be found online of the Pork Checkoff's Web site at www.pork.org. Follow the For Producers tab and click on Youth PQA Plus. Questions can be directed to the Pork Checkoff Service Center at (800) 456-PORK(7675).