The Beef Quality Assurance program, or BQA for short, helps producers stay up on best management practices, and that builds consumer confidence.
“BQA certification is important, not only to help you as you manage your ranch, just to make sure you're up on the latest standards and guidelines that we cover in the program. But it also really positively impacts consumer confidence and we see more and more supply chain interest as well. So big buyers of cattle and beef are interested in knowing that producers are taking the time and initiative to get BQA certified,” says Josh White, executive director, NCBA Producer Education and Sustainability.
The program has roots 40 years old, but it’s continually updated for today’s standards, with an eye on tomorrow.
“A lot of folks think about BQA as being where to place that injection, but we've really expanded the program to include a lot more information and just the latest science. We're constantly upgrading our material, making sure that it's backed by the latest research,” White says.
White says this isn’t the same program as 10 or 20 years ago, so if it’s been a long time since certification, producers should visit online resources to find how to get currently active.
“I would encourage anyone that is not currently actively BQA certified, if it's been more than three years, look for a training in your state or online. Both of those are options. You can go to bqa.org and click on your state. It'll tell you if there are state in-person certification opportunities available. It'll give you the contact information for your state coordinator. And also, you can always go to bqa.org and look for our online platform and get certified that way,” he continues.
When you take care to assure beef quality, it only makes sense to safeguard that all the way to the packing plant, and that’s the latest expansion.
“We recently rolled out the BQA transportation training, so anybody that's transporting cattle directly to a packer, I would really encourage them to go online and add that to their certification repertoire because a lot of the packers are requiring that as of January 1, for anybody bringing cattle direct to them,” White notes.
The regular series of National Beef Quality Audits since 1991 help keep BQA on track, or show opportunities for fine tuning.
“As we do these national beef quality audits every five years, we see areas where we've improved over the years because of beef quality assurance training. We know, for instance, that we're reducing injection site lesions, which adds value back to those carcasses. We know that the severity of bruising has gone down, so that means less trim, more value in that carcass, and ultimately more value for those fed cattle. So, we constantly update that content based on what those national beef quality audits tell us. And we're educating on areas that we can improve the value that every producer drives into the supply chain,” he concludes.