By Dan Loy, IBC director
Are you trained in BQA? Are all of your employees and family members trained in BQA principles? Increasingly, the market outlets for your cattle are demanding that you are. Already Tyson Foods is requiring this through its Farm Check program. Next year Cargill will require 90% of its feedlot suppliers to be BQA certified. Other packers are implementing similar requirements. Wendy’s plans to buy beef only from feedlots whose employees are BQA certified by 2019.
This has come about because more consumers are continuing to ask questions about how the animals that produced their food are raised. Beef packers have logically looked at BQA as the standard bearer of certification. Even though one reason for becoming BQA certified may be to access markets, really, it is just the right thing to do.
While a lack of BQA training for cow-calf producers might not limit market access, it may have the potential for premiums. BQA training is the primary metric for animal care indicators from the US Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. Any verified sustainable program adhering to these guidelines will require it. Incorporating low stress handling principles has been shown to improve animal health and performance. Proper handling and injection of vaccines and medications ensure that the products work and the food supply is safe for consumers. And even if no premiums exist, BQA training is good business.
Because of increased demand for BQA education, the Iowa Beef Center has entered a partnership with the Iowa Beef Industry Council for the delivery of BQA education in Iowa. Doug Bear continues to give outstanding leadership to the program as State BQA Coordinator but the move brings more boots on the ground to bring training to you. This arrangement actually started this fall and you might have already noticed local BQA certification sessions by our field specialists. Look for us to add BQA sessions to some existing programs for your convenience. For information on local BQA certification opportunities, contact your regional Extension Beef Specialist or the IBC for details. BQA certification is also available online (https://www.bqa.org/certification)
Each year the Iowa Beef Center partners with other states and organizations in the development and delivery of major conferences across Iowa. This month several will bring cutting edge information and speakers to producers in Iowa and our bordering states.
Jan. 16-18 is the Three-State Beef Conference. This program will be conducted in sites in Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri, with the Iowa site in Creston on Jan. 16.
Jan. 16 also is the Northwest Iowa Feedlot Forum in Sioux Center and is held in cooperation with the Sioux, Lyon and Plymouth County Cattlemen’s Associations and the Iowa Cattleman’s Association.
Jan. 18-19 The Iowa Forage and Grasslands Council brings a great educational program to Ames.
Jan. 25-26 The Driftless Region Beef Conference will be held in Dubuque. This conference is co-sponsored by the Extension and Outreach programs of Iowa State University, University of Wisconsin, University of Illinois, and the University of Minnesota.
Jan. 27 The Cornbelt Cow-Calf Conference in Ottumwa is one of the premier cow-calf educational events in the U.S.
For speakers, topics and registration information on any of these programs please check out our website www.iowabeefcenter.org and subscribe to our monthly newsletter, Growing Beef http://www.iowabeefcenter.org/growingbeef.html or contact your local beef specialist. We hope to see you there.