AGRICULTURE

The SSQA program: South Dakota Shepherd Survey

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Farm Forum

SSQA program

The Sheep Safety & Quality Assurance (SSQA) program is a national program created and managed by the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI). The SSQA program focuses on assuring consumers that all products coming from sheep are of the highest, safest quality, whether it be meat, milk, or wool/fiber; and assures that the animals were raised using current industry supported husbandry practices. The mission of the SSQA program is to maximize consumer confidence in, and acceptance of sheep products by using research and education to improve on-farm management practices during the production of safe and high-quality sheep products. This mission strives for continuous improvement through all industry personnel, including those responsible for the welfare of sheep on the farm, during milk and wool harvesting, and those involved in meat harvesting (transporters to processing plant workers). The SSQA program supports all ages and experience levels of shepherds, from 4-H/FFA projects and small acreages on up to veteran commercial producers. We all should work together as members of the sheep industry and hold each other accountable to use proper care practices and document these practices accordingly as we produce high quality products for our valued customers.

To learn more about the program, visit http://bit.ly/1PbyUT1.

The survey

You are invited to participate in a survey to gain an understanding of the current level of awareness and participation in the Sheep Safety & Quality Assurance program. This survey will take approximately 5 minutes to complete. It is important for us to learn your opinions to help develop future SDSU Extension programming in the areas of sheep well-being, quality assurance, and consumer perceptions. The survey will be available online until February 29, 2016.

To take the survey, visit http://ssqaimportance.questionpro.com.

Why is it important?

Livestock quality assurance programs are about continuous improvement of husbandry practices to maintain the highest level of care for the animals that results in a safe, wholesome food or fiber product for the consumer. When shepherds participate in these industry quality assurance programs, they communicate that they have both the animal’s well-being and the consumer’s expectations in mind.

Completing this survey will help SDSU Extension better meet the needs of shepherds across South Dakota as the sheep industry continues to evolve within the state and afar.

Want more information?

If you have questions about the survey or have difficulty completing it online, please contact Heidi Carroll at 605.688.6623.