DES MOINES, Iowa – The number of pork producers achieving Pork Quality Assurance Plus certification recently topped 50,000. PQA Plus, which was introduced in 1989, is the pork industry's program to assure the world US producers are delivering a safe and wholesome product and that they are caring for their animals in a socially responsible manner.

"All pork producers should be especially proud about reaching this milestone," said Gene Nemechek, a swine veterinarian from Springdale, Ark., and the president of the National Pork Board. "Producing safe food and providing high-quality care for our animals are two of the ethical principles that form the foundation of the pork industry's We Care initiative."

To attain certification, a producer must meet with a trained advisor once every three years to review the 10 Good Production Practices that promote pork safety and animal well-being practices. To achieve site status, a pork operation must have an on-farm assessment of its animal-handling practices by an assessor trained by the NPB.

"Getting to the 50,000 certification mark has been a significant undertaking by both pork producers and the ag educators and veterinarians who conduct the certifications," said Stacy Revels, manager of certification programs for the Pork Checkoff. "The National Pork Board in 2009 set a goal of having all pork producers certified by 2010. And while we're not quite there yet, this milestone demonstrates the commitment of pork producers to demonstrating their commitment to doing the right thing."