Beef Quality Assurance program now on Facebook, Twitter
Recently, an articled appeared in the New York Times entitled, “Why Don’t Animals Get The Respect Pets Do?” The opinion piece was written by Mark Bittman, who used an activist-coined term “common farming expectations,” throughout his piece. This term was used to lump together the bad apples in agriculture to paint a rotten picture of the hard-working farmers and ranchers who first, care and respect for their livestock on a daily basis, and secondly, produce a safe supply a food they are proud to feed the world and their own families.
In his article, Bittman wrote, “Thanks to common farming exemptions, as long as I raise animals for food and it’s done by my fellow farmers (in this case, manufacturers might be a better word), I can put around 200 million male chicks a year through grinders, castrate – mostly without anesthetic – 65 million calves and piglets a year, breed sick animals (don’t forget: more than half a billion eggs were recalled last summer, from just two Iowa farms) who in turn breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria, allow those sick animals to die without individual veterinary care, imprison animals in cages so small they cannot turn around, skin live animals, or kill animals en masse to stem disease outbreaks. All of this is legal, because we will eat them.”
Bittman’s sensationalized piece doesn’t paint a pretty picture of who farmers and ranchers really are, and although there is no such thing as “common farming exemptions,” there is the industry-sponsored Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program, which provides guidelines for beef cattle production to help raise consumer confidence through offering proper management techniques and a commitment to quality within every segment of the beef industry.
Lauren Dever is the BQA manager working on behalf of America’s cattle producers with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). Dever hopes to encourage more ranchers to become BQA-certified, an option that has been made much simpler through the program’s Web site and new presence on Facebook and Twitter.
“BQA is a promise to ourselves and to our consumers that we are committed to raising safe and wholesome beef cattle that produce the highest quality product,” said Dever. “The dedication that goes into raising and caring for cattle responsibly is huge, and everyone from consumers to feedlot owners to pasture farmers and ranchers has a stake in animal care.”
Today’s beef is safe and wholesome. The BQA program helps producers raise a consistent product and reassures consumers of ranchers’ commitment to both the cattle and the end product.
“On the farm and off, it is important to remind people how much pride is put into the business,” added Dever. “With many regulations, practices and educational programs in place throughout the beef production process, consumers should feel confident selecting beef as a healthy, sustainable and responsible food choice.”
BQA provides systematic information to U.S. beef producers and beef consumers of how common sense husbandry techniques can be coupled with accepted scientific knowledge to raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions. BQA guidelines are designed to make certain all beef consumers can take pride in what they purchase – and can trust and have confidence in the entire beef industry.
“We have a new Web site where producers can learn more about BQA, and we can also be found on Facebook and Twitter,” explained Dever. “We also just launched our online certification program and a new events calendar on the Web site.”
The BQA Web site can be found at http://www.bqa.org. The online certification information is located at http://www.bqa.org/getcertified.aspx. BQA can also be found on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/NationalBQA and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/NationalBQA?ref=ts&sk=wall#!/NationalBQA.
“Each state will have the online program listed if they are participating, not all states participate, but about half of them are at the moment,” said Dever. “If they don’t have the online option, then their state coordinator is listed who can help them figure out how to get certified.”
BQA is a checkoff-funded program that has helped producers focus on the beef that reaches the dinner table.
“BQA program participants recognize that maintaining consumer confidence requires a commitment to quality beef production at every level – not just at the feedlot or packing plant, but within every segment of the cattle industry,” said Dever.
Dever hopes more ranchers will make the commitment to themselves and their customers to raising a safe, wholesome product by getting BQA certified. Learn more at http://www.bqa.org. And, while negative articles continue to be printed about farmers and ranchers, at least the BQA program will help to prove the beef industry’s genuine promise to raise quality cattle for a trusted source of beef.
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