May is “Beef Month.” In order to make certain all beef consumers can take pride in what they purchase and can trust and have confidence in the entire beef industry, a nationally coordinated, state-implemented program called Beef Quality Assurance helps to do just that.
The BQA program provides systematic information to U.S. beef producers and beef consumers of how common sense husbandry techniques can be coupled with accepted scientific knowledge to raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions.
BQA programs have evolved to include best practices around good record-keeping and protecting herd health, which can result in more profits for producers. When better-quality cows leave the farm and reach the marketplace, the producer, packer and consumer all benefit. When better-quality beef reaches the supermarket, consumers are more confident in the beef they are buying, and this increases beef consumption.
The BQA program was established in 1987. Nearly every state in the U.S. has an active BQA program. Funding for these efforts ranges from state-derived beef check-off money to national support through the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. State programs are voluntary, locally led, and administered through organizations such as state beef councils and cattle associations.
BQA is not a government program. It links all beef producers with livestock production specialists, veterinarians, nutritionists, marketers and food purveyors interested in maintaining and improving the quality of cattle and the beef they produce.
The Dallas County Cattlemen’s Association recently teamed up with the Polk County Cattlemen’s Association to sponsor a BQA certification meeting. The meeting was May 2 at Prairie Grove School. The nearly 120 local beef producers in attendance heard from Dr. Craig Payne, University of Missouri Extension state veterinarian. Payne’s program centered around what cattlemen can do to assure the consumer that they (the producers) raise healthy cattle that produce safe and wholesome beef.
Payne considers biosecurity one of the most important components of BQA. He offered tips about how producers can minimize disease incidences, and touted the importance of taking precautionary measures to prevent and limit the spread of diseases. He also talked about other BQA components, such as proper vaccine administration, principles of cattle handling and quality feeding.
More information about BQA can be found at bqa.org.