Virginia Joins Mid-Atlantic Group Certifying Producers on Beef Quality Assurance
Livestock Update, December 2002
John B. Hall, Extension Animal Scientist, Beef, VA Tech
Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) is a national program focused on ensuring beef producers are producing a safe and wholesome product for the consumer. Over the last 15 years, the national BQA program has decreased the amount of product defects, improved safety, and increased quality of beef. This program has succeeded through research results and information distributed to beef producers. Now, the program emphasis has shifted from an information program to a training and certification program for beef producers.
This summer, the Virginia BQA team joined with teams from Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, and West Virginia to form the Mid-Atlantic BQA group. The effort resulted in a standardized training manual and instructional program for beef producers on BQA. The program goal is to train and certify cattlemen in these states as Certified BQA Producers. This will ensure that many of the calves produced in the Virginias and fed in the Mid-Atlantic area will be raised by Certified BQA Producers from conception to harvest.
Reggie Reynolds, Executive Secretary of the VA Cattlemen's Association, explained that producer certification is the next logical step in creating consumer confidence and ensuring the quality and safety of our product. In addition, BQA certification is becoming necessary for market access. Already, ConAgra requires its suppliers of fed cattle to sign a BQA agreement; whereas, Nebraska Corn Fed Beef is requiring feeder cattle producers to be BQA certified in order to feed cattle with them. In the evolving beef industry being a Certified BQA Producer may be important to maintaining access to many markets.
Over the next year, Virginia Cooperative Extension in cooperation the Virginia Beef Industry Council, and the Virginia Cattlemen's Association will conduct BQA certification training sessions across the state. The program consists of classroom and hands-on chute side training. Producers will then take a brief test, and sign a producer BQA agreement. All producers will receive a BQA manual and BQA certification number.
The Virginia BQA Certification Program is supported with your beef check-off dollars by a grant from the Virginia Beef Industry Council. Therefore, training sessions and manuals are free. Some locations will have a charge for meals and other non-BQA materials.
If you are interested in becoming a Certified BQA Producer, contact your county extension office.