“Consumers are concerned for animal health, and the sustainability of the production systems their food’s raised in.” That statement is just one of several discussed during the 2018 Ohio Beef School presentations that have caused teaching and certifying Ohio’s cattlemen in Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) to become a priority. Adding even more meaning to that statement is the fact that Tyson Foods, who harvest and process 25% of the U.S. beef market share, and also Wendy’s, now the second largest fast food hamburger chain in the U.S., have both announced beginning in 2019 cattle they purchase must originate from producers and feedyards that are Beef Quality Assurance certified. Not only are today’s consumers sharing their concerns, but now the businesses who are supplying the public’s demand for a quality beef product raised in a humane and sustainable fashion also want some guarantees that it’s happening throughout the production chain.
In response, Ohio State University Extension is working in cooperation with the Ohio Beef Council, the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association and Ohio’s cattle auction markets and collection points to offer Ohio’s cattlemen several opportunities to become Beef Quality Assurance Certified. There will be a Beef Quality Assurance Training session at the Hardin County OSU Extension office, 1021 W. Lima Street, Kenton on Thursday, December 6 from 7:00-8:30 pm. The training will be taught by Henry County OSU Extension Educator Garth Ruff and will be coordinated by a combined multi-media presentation with both Putnam and Williams Counties Producers’ questions and concerns will be answered live during the webinar. Cattle producers planning to attend should call the Hardin County OSU Extension office at 419-674-2297 by December 4.
Beef Quality Assurance is a nationally coordinated, state implemented program that provides systematic information to U.S. beef producers and beef consumers of how common sense husbandry techniques can be coupled with accepted scientific knowledge to raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions. By 2019 Wendy’s has committed to sourcing beef from only BQA Certified producers and Tyson has pledged to follow suit by 2020. It is expected that other retailers and packers will do the same. Being BQA Certified will be a producer’s ticket to market access, much like the pork industry. Anyone selling beef animals to be harvested for meat needs to be BQA certified. This includes producers of fed beef, dairy beef, cull cows and bulls including dairy cull cows.
Producers can become certified by attending a training session hosted by OSU Extension. Training dates and times are posted at beef.osu.edu. They can also complete online BQA training at BQA.org. Either format will require a couple of hours’ time. Certification will last for three years. Upon completion of BQA, producers will receive a confirmation that they completed the certification. It is up to the producer to share that information with local stockyards to relay to the cattle buyer or it can be shared with the buyer when in a direct marketing scenario. A data base with all certified producers will be housed at the state beef council and maintained by the state BQA coordinators.
Article written by Garth Ruff, OSU Extension-Henry County and revised by Mark Badertscher, OSU Extension-Hardin County.