Cattle buyers to require Beef Quality Assurance certification

Author : Daniel Buskirk. This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit To contact an expert in your area, visit, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

Marketing beef direct to processors or through many Michigan auction markets for full value will now require Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certification. Common-sense husbandry techniques and scientific knowledge that demonstrate commitment to animal welfare, food safety and quality, safeguard the public image of the beef and dairy industries, and uphold consumer confidence in beef is conveyed in BQA. Recently, Wendy’s, the third largest hamburger chain in the U.S, requested that their beef supply be responsibly produced under BQA guidelines. This has prompted Cargill Protein, and Tyson Foods (as of Jan. 1, 2019) to require that purchased cattle come from operations that are BQA feedyard certified. Other processors may soon follow suit. The feedyard certification is also highly recommended for cow/calf producers as this requirement may also affect the future marketing of cull cows and bulls. To market fed cattle in these markets, a producer must be able to supply their BQA certification number to the direct buyer, or have their number on file with the auction market. In lieu of BQA training one of the following certifications will also qualify youth, dairy, or Canadian producers.

Certifications Deemed Equivalent to Beef Quality Assurance for Marketing Beef Cattle

Regardless of the certification method, Beef Quality Assurance certifications remain in effect for three years. The NCBA will notify producers when certifications are nearing expiration. The BQA certification process can be completed in one of two ways:

1.) Online BQA certification

Go to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) BQA website. Register and complete the free feedyard training and certification (note: cow/calf, and stocker BQA are not required at this time, but are available). After completing the module and passing the assessment, you will be eligible to receive a certificate. If you are selling through an auction market, a copy of this certificate must be presented to your market prior to sale.

2.) Attend a local BQA certification

Numerous meetings will be held throughout Michigan to give beef producers the opportunity to become certified. These meetings are a cooperative effort of local auction markets, the Michigan Beef Industry Commission and the Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) Beef Team. The meetings will consist of approximately two hours of instruction, a brief quiz, and the ability to receive certification.

Regardless, if you sell one animal annually or 10,000, those without certification will have their cattle sold as “non-certified”. It is important to note that this is not a mandate by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), nor the auction markets, but rather is a requirement from beef processors and foodservice who sell directly to beef consumers.

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