Successful livestock, dairy, and poultry producers – along with their related industry partners – provide sound animal care on commercial farms and in harvest plants. PAACO provides the means to validate those practices with certified audits and well-trained auditors.

Most animal and meat producer organizations have guidelines consistent with sound science and a consideration of economic realities. PAACO’s efforts incorporate meeting those guidelines, respecting science, and acknowledging economic factors.

But how did it all begin?

In the early 2000s, food associations representing their retail and food service corporate members asked producer groups to develop and send species-specific guidelines for their review. After consideration of these welfare guidelines, retail and food service companies expected plant and on-farm audits of farm animal welfare would begin.

Many species groups have some well-being programs in place, ranging from educational to auditable:



The National Pork Board has evolved several programs into the current Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA+) program, which is designed to cover best management practices and welfare. In addition, they have a Transportation Quality Assurance (TQA) program in which transportation welfare is addressed through training and certification. Recently, they facilitated the development of the Common Swine Industry Audit involving producers, packers, customers, and other stakeholders.



There are multiple assessments and audit programs in this industry. They range from educational to verifying welfare practices.



Welfare audits exist for:

  • Layers – United Egg Producers has a longstanding well-being program covering cage and cage-free production styles. A large majority of table eggs is covered by their annual audits from layer placement through de-population.
  • Broilers – National Chicken Council developed a management and production audit in 2004 covering from hatchery to slaughter. This audit is used as the primary basis of specific customer audits in their industry.
  • Turkey – National Turkey Federation’s Guidelines and Audit tools, in place for several years (revised every two years), are widely utilized by their production companies and customers.


Beef Cattle / Feed Lots

The National Cattlemen’s Association5 and its state affiliates use the Beef Quality Assurance program as their educational tool.

In 2016, the Alberta-based National Cattle Feeders Association launched an audit tool developed by stakeholders in this area of cattle production. The audit covers from delivery of cattle to feed yards to load out to packers.


Meat Packers

For many years, the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) Foundation has developed and revised a meat plant slaughter audit covering cattle, swine, and sheep from delivery to the plant until death. This is widely utilized by their industry and customers.


Beyond Species Organizations

Professional animal science and veterinary organizations have direct interest and expertise in farm animal welfare. Among the species-specific veterinarian organizations are:

In addition, the research, teaching and extension expertise of the members of the animal, dairy and poultry science associations bring immense resources to the topic of animal care and handling. These organizations have supported and contributed their expertise to health, quality and care assurance programs and include:


Auditor Training and Certification

The process by which harvest plant and on-farm animal welfare auditors are qualified, trained and certified continues to be developed. PAACO joins many industry organizations in requiring the plant and on-farm auditors and audit firms to have specific qualifications, experience, and abilities.

The organizational members of PAACO are professional, independent, science-based groups that have come together to initiate training and certification for on-farm and harvest plant auditors.