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Beef Quality Assurance Programs Benefit Producers, Consumers

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If someone asked you how many milliliters of a certain vaccine to give in one injection, could you answer correctly? What about the recommended spacing between injections given on the same side of an animal? Is this spacing different for cows and calves? Did you know that the recommended area in which an intramuscular shot should be given is smaller than that of a subcutaneous one?
If you are a cattle producer, these questions, and more importantly the answers to these questions, should matter to you because they will not only make you a more effective producer, they are ensuring a safe and wholesome product for our consumers.

Don't worry too much if you don't know the answers to the above questions because there is a neat and easy way to find them out. It's called the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program, and it is as close to you as your computer. BQA is a program that is nationally sponsored by the National Cattleman's Beef Association (NCBA). The program's mission is " to maximize consumer confidence in and acceptance of beef by focusing the industry's attention on beef quality assurance through the use of science, research and educational initiatives." This mission and the guidelines of the national BQA program are coordinated and implemented by state beef associations.

Ready access to the BQA program is available to cattle producers in the Noble Research Institute's service area through the Texas Beef Quality Producers (TBQP) program. TBQP is a voluntary program that is a cooperative effort between the Texas Beef Council (TBC), Texas Cooperative Extension and Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA). Within this program, there are two levels of certification. Level I status can be obtained very easily by spending a couple of hours behind a computer with Internet access, whereas Level II certification has to be completed by attending a training session. By completing this certification, you are sending a message to the beef cattle industry that you are willing to implement best management practices (BMPs) at your place of operation that lead to a product that is safe and wholesome. Becoming certified doesn't imply that you were doing anything wrong; as a matter of fact, some operations will not have to change a single operating procedure because they are already doing a good job. However, by becoming certified, you set an example for others to follow, and even if you are doing a good job carrying out procedural tasks, I feel confident that everyone can learn something by becoming certified.

Some of you may be asking the question "Will I get paid for becoming certified?" My answer is that there is a definite possibility, but I can't (and neither can anyone else) guarantee it. However, it won't cost you anything but a little time, and there is something to be said for doing the right thing and this is the right thing to do.

By the way, the answers to the questions at the beginning of this article can be found by obtaining a CD from your local county agent if you live in Texas, or by going to www.beefquality.com and ordering it online. If you prefer the more traditional approach, the Noble Research Institute will be hosting Level I & II training sessions starting at 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 15, 2004. If you need additional information, contact your local Extension agent, TSCRA or Melissa Castleman here at the Noble Research Institute at (580) 223-5810. We look forward to seeing you there.

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