Originally Published Mar. 1, 2014
Ensuring a quality beef-eating experience starts at the ranch when the calf is born and continues until the steak is presented to the consumer as a cooked product. Every segment of the beef industry has a role in ensuring a final quality dining experience. A national program called Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) was developed over 25 years ago to help producers increase the quality of beef they produce by educating ranchers and their employees on the importance of proper management and adhering to industry-accepted guidelines. This program also raises consumer confidence by asssuring the public that USA beef is the safest and most nutritious beef available.
BQA starts at the ranch. Ranchers care for their cattle daily and strive to provide a healthy and safe environment for their livestock. Producers need to make sure that their employees and guests on the ranch also care about the cattle. One way to do this is for ranch workers to be BQA-certified and learn the importance of proper injection techniques, product handling and storage, and livestock handling and transportation, as well as the importance of documentation.
Many ranchers ask if being BQA-certified will make them any more money when they sell their calves. The short answer is that by being certified you are ensuring that the cattle have received the proper care and treatment that the industry and consumers expect. This certification may promote the buyer to bid more for your calves since he knows that you understand the importance of BQA and all that it entails. He may also assume that, since you have taken the time to become BQA-certified, you have gone above and beyond for the rest of your calves' management. Additionally, the more producers who become certified, the better the industry is able to tell our story and represent the American rancher to the consumer. The old saying "a rising tide floats all ships" is very true in our industry. It only takes one bad actor to cause a problem for the entire industry to suffer.
Furthermore, ranchers need to educate all guests on the importance of being sure the cattle stay safe while they are on the ranch. It is rare that foreign objects are found in cattle at the packing plant, but it is important to reduce even the potential of this happening.
Beef Quality Assurance has been an industry standard since 1986 as a way to reduce foreign residues in the beef supply. This is an industry initiative that more producers should embrace.