World Pork Expo trains producers in Pork Quality Assurance
By Jean Caspers-Simmet
DES MOINES — Conley Nelson of Algona, Jodi Jurgemeyer of Rockwell and Peter Thome of Adams, Minn., were among the first producers trained in the new Pork Quality Assurance Plus program at last week’s World Pork Expo.
The National Pork Board launched the program at the international pork trade show and exhibition at the Iowa State fairgrounds in Des Moines. PQA Plus incorporates the Pork Checkoff’s Swine Welfare Assurance Program into the Pork Quality Assurance certification program.
Nelson, general manager of Midwest operations for Murphy Brown and a member of the Iowa Pork Producers Association board of directors, took part in the training as a member of the Pork Leadership Academy. Thome, Minnesota State Pork Industry Ambassador, and Jurgemeyer, a summer intern with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, took the training as part of the intern education offered at the World Pork Expo.
Nelson said PQA Plus is a good program, and it will help the industry.
"Animal welfare issues won’t go away," Nelson said. "I’m sure it’s something we’ll do company-wide. We’re doing PQA Level III now."
Nelson said he participated in the Pork Leadership Academy because the industry faces a lot of challenges and opportunities, and more people need to be out there as advocates for the industry.
Thome, 19, is a sophomore at Riverland Community College in Austin, Minn. When he finishes he plans to transfer to the University of Wisconsin, River Falls, to study animal science. After college he plans to farm with his father and two brothers. His family has a 1,500-sow farrow-to-finish operation and raises 1,400 acres of corn and soybeans.
"I was one of the first to be certified in PQA Plus," Thome said. "It’s kind of an honor."
Jurgemeyer will be a senior at Iowa State University where she is majoring in journalism with an agricultural background. She grew up on a farm near Rockwell where her family has a farrow-to-finish hog operation and raises corn and soybeans.
Jurgemeyer said she has always felt connected to the pork industry.
"I’m proud of the fact that as pork producers we raise a quality product and feed the world with our pork," she said. "I’m enjoying the opportunity to work in that industry this summer."