BQA Refocuses Producers from Marketing Beef to Satisfying ConsumersWed, 12 Dec 2012 14:31:29 CST
John Maas, veterinarian and beef producer from California and member of the industry’s Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) advisory committee, explains why the reinvented BQA program, funded in part by producer’s checkoff dollars, continues to be valuable to beef and dairy producers.
“It’s important not only in my capacity as an educator but it’s important in the way we run our ranch. The significance of the Beef Quality Assurance program is that it’s alive - and by that I mean that it’s changing, and it changes relative to the opportunities and challenges that we see with our production systems here in the United States. To begin with, the Beef Quality Assurance program focused on a problem that we had with drug residues in our finished cattle. And quickly by scientific observations and the Beef Quality Audits and those types of tools, we found that we had other problems. And so we addressed them, and we’ve been addressing problems as we find them throughout the whole life of the BQA program. And we’ve ticked off a whole bunch of successes but that’s not where we’re stopping. We keep this whole program alive by continually doing the audits, taking the information from the audits and challenging ourselves to fix those problems as they come up.”
Maas says the basic principles of the national program are tailored down to the on-farm level.
“The Beef Quality Assurance basics are going to remain the same - I mean the core part of the program about good feed, good water, good vaccine programs, prevention of disease problems, the way we use drugs, the way we prevent residues, the way we prevent injection site lesions - those things are going to be the core of it. The thing that really gets our producers excited is when we can then take that information and incorporate it into a problem that they’re having. Because this is a grassroots-driven program, we keep asking our producers exactly what are your problems this year, and then we’ll form a program around that and then go through the counties and deliver that information. And they really love that.”
Maas believes the success of the program starts with the changing mindset of the producer.
“Beef producers in the United States now accept almost universally that they don’t just market calves, they are raising food for somebody’s table. And because of the BQA effort, that has been an almost universal acceptance. And so it’s been so cool to see that taking of personal responsibility for making food for somebody versus the old-time attitude of ‘I just market my calves.’ And so that’s been a huge part of the sociology so to speak of the BQA movement.”
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