What’s new with beef quality assurance

Farm Forum

BROOKINGS, S.D. – Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) and Dairy Animal Care and Quality Assurance (DACQA), also known as Dairy BQA, focus on best management practices for the day-to-day husbandry practices used in caring for cattle that provide beef for family’s tables across the United States and abroad.

“The National BQA program continually works with all sectors of the beef and dairy industries to improve the content, credibility and the uniformity of standards for raising food animals to assure the quality of beef products,” explained Heidi Carroll, SDSU Extension Livestock Stewardship Associate.

Antibiotic stewardship is a key component to both BQA and DACQA programs. This includes all medications or feed additive use. As changes occur to FDA regulations, Carroll reminds cattle producers to maintain their cattle treatment records, veterinary instructions and drug inventory lists accordingly. “Records should be maintained for two years.

Additionally, remember to keep veterinarian’s prescriptions and VFDs with the records,” Carroll said. “More importantly, maintain a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) to be able to acquire feed-grade medications when situations arise and have veterinary input to continually improve herd health plans.”

Feed yards & BQA

Feed yards are held to high standards and often put under the microscope in the eyes of meat packers and the public. Because of this, Carroll explained that the National BQA program continues to collaborate with major packing companies to create a more uniform producer training program on cattle handling instead of multiple packer-specific programs.

“All employees should maintain a current BQA certificate,” she said.

The BQA program strongly encourages feed yards to complete a Feed yard Assessment every three years and create written Standards of Practice Protocols. Once an assessment is complete a feed yard qualifies to be included on the National BQA list of certified feed yards.

“The National BQA list of certified feed yards will allow packers to verify feed yard BQA certification before purchasing cattle,” Carroll explained.

She added that this assists packers in keeping their commitments to consumers about the well-being of the cattle they either own or purchase.

The database will solely be accessed by national or state BQA coordinators and packers to ensure producer confidentiality.

Dairies & DACQA

Dairy beef accounts for 15 to 20 percent of the United States’ beef production. The National BQA program teamed up with the dairy industry to provide a collaborative effort to handle producer training programs and develop uniform resources on animal care and handling.

Carroll explained that the DACQA program will more closely reflect the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (F.A.R.M.) standards that are required by milk processors. “Since dairy feedlots are not required to participate in the F.A.R.M. program, they should maintain DACQA or BQA certification,” Carroll said.

New training materials will be available soon.

Become certified

The South Dakota Beef Industry Council (SDBIC) still requires cattlemen to complete both levels of the South Dakota Beef Quality Assurance / Critical Management Plan (SD BQA/CMP) program, the educational training (Level 1) and the veterinarian approved site and treatment plan (Level 2), to be considered a certified producer.

“Feed yards should get in the habit of completing a Feed yard Assessment on a regular basis and updating their files to have current written Standards of Practice Protocols, which is similar to Level 2 requirements,” Carroll explained.

The SDBIC and SDSU Extension are updating the South Dakota materials appropriately and compiling the National BQA resources for producers.

For more information on the BQA or DACQA programs, or the Feed yard Assessments, contact Carroll, or 605-688-6623 or Tracey Walsh, or 605-224-4722.