A Q&A on BQA
BQA helps producers assure the health and well-being of their animals. We asked two state coordinators to answer questions about the program:
- Craig Payne with the Beef Vet Medicine arm of the University of Missouri, firstname.lastname@example.org, (573) 882-8236
1. What prompted BQA?
Huseman: The beef industry developed the program to address concerns with beef quality related primarily to appropriate use of injected animal health products. Its mission is to increase consumer confidence through production practices that ensure a safe, wholesome, high-quality product.
2. What does BQA cover?
Huseman: It provides education on key animal health and food safety issues. For example, guidelines ask producers to follow industry-developed cattle care and handling standards, use subcutaneous injections when possible, follow product labels and maintain production records.
Payne: Special programs address cow-calf producers, stocker-backgrounders and feedlots, plus there’s a comprehensive program. We cover things like bio-security, risk assessment and management, herd health, feed, feed additives and medications, pesticides, recordkeeping, carcass quality, cattle handling and husbandry, and culling management.
3. How can you get certified?
Huseman: You can take training online at www.animalcaretraining.org at a cost of $25, and/or attend producer meetings conducted by university personnel or your local veterinarian. In Kansas, we rely on online training and hold producer meetings led by the Beef Cattle Institute at K State. Online training takes a couple of hours. Once you complete it, you’re recorded in a national database. (You can also access training at www.bqa.org.)
4. Can all sizes of growers be certified?
Huseman: Yes. Anyone that handles cattle should take the time to get BQA training. Many people practice BQA principles whether they complete the training or not. BQA is just the right thing to do, and the result is responsible beef production.
5. How do you assess compliance?
Huseman: Self-audit documents help you evaluate how well you are implementing BQA practices. In some cases, a third party or your veterinarian conducts assessments.
6. The dairy industry is working toward a mandatory program. Will BQA become mandatory?
Payne: No. However, programs like Tyson Farm Check and increased interest by retailers in process verification will eventually make BQA training and certification a normal part of doing business.
Huseman: BQA is a voluntary, producer-led educational program. Beef producers have tackled tough topics through BQA and made changes to address critical issues. If this continues, there should be no need for a mandatory program. While I don’t believe it will become a government-mandated program, buyers may require it.
7. How many cattle growers have been certified?
Payne: We don’t know how many nationwide, but in Missouri, approximately 1,500.
8. How will BQA affect the industry’s future?
Payne: Today’s consumers scrutinize food producers more than ever. BQA is intended to increase consumer confidence by assuring consumers that cattle have been raised and handled according to best management practices. In addition, BQA is a simple way to communicate with producers about changes or regulations.
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