The National Pork Board is proud to announce that its flagship certification programs have been confirmed to be compliant with ISO Technical Specification (TS) 34700, recognizing pig farmers commitment to the highest level of care and well-being for the pigs they raise.  

  • Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA Plus®) version 5.0 
  • PQA Plus Site Assessment version 5.0 
  • Transport Quality Assurance® (TQA®) version 8 

This accomplishment underscores pork producers’ dedication to providing pigs with an environment that is healthy, safe and sustainable.  

Stephanie Wisdom, director of animal welfare and sustainability at NPB, said producers uphold high standards of animal welfare within their barns through a combination of safe and appropriate housing, responsible management practices and veterinary care. 

“Obtaining compliance for our programs clearly shows that animal welfare is a top priority for U.S. pork producers and the U.S. pork industry,” Wisdom said. “It reflects our industry’s deep commitment to top-notch animal care, public health and food safety in the pork industry. This achievement assures both producers and consumers that our practices meet globally recognized standards and showcases our commitment to compassion and respect for the animals we raise.” 

Wisdom said implementing these programs and maintaining certifications builds consumer confidence that U.S. Pork is not only good for you and good for the planet, but it also meets the highest animal welfare standards in the world.   

Pork Producers By the Numbers

  • 61,600+ PQA Certified individuals
  • 19,500+ farms with PQA Plus Site status
  • 29,000+ TQA Certified individuals

Exemplary Quality Management Standards 

ISO’s animal welfare technical specification was designed to evaluate if animal welfare programs meet international standards for animal care across the supply chain.  

As an independent, international standards-setting body, ISO works with the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) to help farmers and animal welfare programs determine how to implement species-specific animal welfare standards.  

The WOAH, the World Trade Organization-recognized body for setting animal health and welfare standards affecting international trade, adopted animal welfare and pig production standards in 2018. 

Programs, like PQA Plus and TQA, use the standard to demonstrate alignment with the principles of WOAH. The compliance was awarded following a rigorous evaluation process conducted by USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.  

As U.S. pork producers demonstrate compliance with international animal welfare standards, domestic and international consumers can have confidence in choosing U.S. pork as a safe, consistent and quality protein source.   

Major U.S. Pork Packers Mandate PQA Plus Certification

All major U.S. pork packers require current PQA Plus site status of the farm when animals are purchased. As a result, more than 85% of the pigs marketed in the U.S. come from a farm with a current PQA Plus site status.

Continuous Education and Training 

To stay current on the latest research and best practices related to animal welfare, pig farmers participate in training programs and are re-certified every three years. The programs enhance knowledge and skills in areas such as animal handling, health management and facility design.  

PQA Plus and TQA are updated every three years under the direction of pork producers and subject matter experts to reflect updated research and industry and consumer concerns. The updates align with farm and individual certification renewals to ensure new and updated content is included each time an animal caretaker renews his or her PQA Plus certification.   

PQA Plus

Individual certification for animal caretakers 

PQA Plus is an education and certification program designed to help pig farmers and their employees continually improve production practices. The program is renowned for its role in ensuring that U.S. pork products are of the highest quality. It teaches good pig production practices through the six We Care Ethical Principles, focusing on food safety, animal well-being, environmental stewardship, worker safety, public health and community. It also prioritizes a veterinarian-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) and responsible antibiotic use and documentation.

PQA Plus Site Assessment

On-Farm Site Assessment 

Farms can achieve PQA Plus site status through an on-farm site assessment with a PQA Plus Advisor. The PQA Plus site assessment is an on-farm evaluation of animal care practices. The assessment is conducted by a PQA Plus Advisor and includes a review of records, facilities, equipment, and animal care and well-being practices.  
The assessment covers 27 key aspects of swine care and pre-harvest pork safety and must be renewed every three years.  

All major U.S. pork packers require current PQA Plus site status of the farm when animals are purchased. As a result, more than 85% of the pigs marketed in the U.S. come from a farm with a current PQA Plus site status.


Individual certification to handle and transport pigs 

Pork producers recognize that their obligation to protect and promote pig welfare does not end when the pig leaves the farm. TQA is an education and certification program designed to teach animal handlers how to handle and transport pigs in a manner that ensures pig welfare, provides safety for the handler and protects animal health.  

Animal Housing

Pig farmers prioritize providing appropriate housing conditions for their animals. Modern barns are designed to offer sufficient space, ventilation and temperature control to create a comfortable environment regardless of outside weather conditions. The barns are structured to allow pigs to move freely, express natural behaviors and have access to clean water and balanced nutrition. Animal pens are cleaned and disinfected regularly to create safe and healthy living conditions for the animals.  

Healthcare and Disease Prevention  

Pig farmers work closely with veterinarians to develop health management plans. Regular health checks, vaccinations and preventive measures are taken to ensure that pigs remain healthy. This not only prevents suffering but also reduces the need for antibiotics and other treatments that could impact animal welfare. If an animal requires treatment, pig farmers work with their veterinarian to determine the treatment plan for the best outcome and follow policies and procedures provided by the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV).

Appropriate Feeding Practices

Pig farmers formulate balanced diets that meet the nutritional needs of pigs at different life stages. Controlled feeding regimens ensure that each pig receives the right amount of food, preventing overfeeding or undernourishment. Feed provided at each stage of a pig’s life is carefully formulated by professional animal nutritionists, and the formulations are updated often based on the animal’s specific needs. This approach promotes healthy growth and increases the farm’s sustainability by reducing waste associated with overfeeding nutrients. 

The National Pork Board has responsibility for Pork Checkoff-funded research, promotion and consumer information projects and for communicating with pork producers and the public. The Pork Checkoff funds national and state programs in consumer education and marketing, retail and foodservice marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, science and technology, swine health, pork safety, and environmental management and sustainability. For the past half century, the U.S. pork industry has delivered on its commitment to sustainable production and has made significant strides in reducing the environmental impact of pig farming. Through a legislative national Pork Checkoff, pork producers invest $0.35 for each $100 value of hogs sold. Importers of pork products contribute a like amount, based on a formula. For information on Checkoff-funded programs, pork producers can call the Pork Checkoff Service Center at (800) 456-7675 or visit