by Carrie Webster
More than a million pigs are transported every day on U.S. roads to packing plants or to the next stage of production. Behind the wheel are hundreds of drivers trained to do the job right, thanks to their training in the Pork Checkoff’s Transport Quality Assurance® (TQA) program.
“The program recently was updated to ensure continuous improvement in how pigs are handled and transported,” said Dinah Peebles, manager of certification programs for the Pork Checkoff.
“Drivers and transporters are responsible for a large percent of the pork in production on any given day.”
– Jamee Eggers, Pork Checkoff
Since 2001, TQA has built a culture of protecting and promoting animal well-being through the training and certification of animal handlers and transport personnel.
“Drivers and transporters are responsible for the safety and well-being of a large percent of the pork in production each day,” said Jamee Eggers, animal welfare manager for the Pork Checkoff. “It is vital those drivers are properly equipped and educated to transport swine.”
To stay current with transportation trends, a TQA task force of producers and industry experts and representatives identified updates needed to build consumer confidence. Changes include revised guidelines for boarding and bedding, worker safety, confined spaces and public interaction, which address how an accident should be handled.
With the updated TQA program, transporters can complete 40 percent of training using six different interactive modules ranging from five to eight minutes each. The modules also can assist in retraining. The other 60 percent of training uses existing slide presentations.
“These updates may seem small, but they are important,” Peebles said. “Each section of the program is thoroughly reviewed to ensure that it continues to sync with current research and transportation standards. That matters to consumers.”
The revised TQA program officially launched in March. The Pork Checkoff has been conducting sessions across the country since then to train advisors on program updates so they are ready to certify transporters.