BQA: A Cattleman's Best Tool

BQA helps combat misinformation. ( FJ )

“We face the end of the cattle industry as we know it, and the exponential market growth of inexpensive, high-quality, tasty modern food designed using food-as-software technology based on precise consumer specifications.”

Preposterous? Bloviation? Maybe.

It’s not important that you and I have serious doubts whether fake meats can really bring an end to cattle ranching. What’s important is that folks like Tony Seba and Catherine Tubb, who those quotes are attributed to, are making believers of some wealthy, highly-educated entrepreneurs.

Seba and Tubb wrote in the October issue of Fast Company that fake meat producers are “creating the deepest, most consequential disruption of food and agriculture in ten thousand years.”

These people are not crackpots. Seba is a founder of Rethinkx, a “think tank” that analyzes and forecasts the speed and scale of technology-driven disruption. He has a Stanford MBA and a Computer Science and Engineering degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Tubb is a research fellow at Rethinkx focusing on disruption in the agriculture and food industries. She has a PhD in Chemistry and an MSci in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University.

Beyond the technology that threatens your livelihood, marketers of these new plant-based and cell-cultured products are also challenging your stewardship. They want consumers to believe they can satisfy the world’s need for protein with “only a tiny fraction of the environmental impact of meat from cows,” and “dramatically reduce animal suffering on factory farms.” One company’s slogan is “Eat up. Save Earth.”

Last month your industry launched a program that will help counter much of that misinformation by highlighting how cattlemen across the country raise cattle under Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) guidelines. The Beef Checkoff-funded campaign is designed to bridge the gap between what the industry is doing to produce high-quality beef in a humane, environmentally-friendly way, and what consumers know about those efforts.

BQA is a decades-old program, old enough in fact that now about 85% of beef comes from BQA-certified operations. Sharing the shining story BQA puts on our industry is an astute strategy.

BQA has been so successful it is rapidly becoming an industry standard. On Jan. 1, 2020, BQA certification will be required for any cattle hauler or producer directly delivering cattle to a major packing plant. Due to growing consumer awareness of environmental and animal welfare issues, we should expect increasing demand for cattle raised at BQA-certified ranches or feedlots.

If you are not BQA certified, you should consider completing the program. BQA is one of our industry’s best tools to combat the relentless barrage of misinformation about beef and ranching.

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