It is vitally important to have a safe and sustainable supply of food in the United States and elsewhere. This includes high-quality beef that is humanely raised in an environmentally sound manner.

The US Department of Agriculture has rules and laws that govern how this is done. However, beef producers take it a step further because they have a vested interest and sincere desire to make sure their cattle, land, and products are treated with the utmost regard. This extra step includes a national program called Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) where individual beef producers take the training and receive certification.

The BQA program started in the early 1980s when producers wanted to ensure practices were safe and would pass the scrutiny of consumers. The USDA audited the cattle feeding segment of the industry to look at various practices and how they impacted meat quality. Since then, National Beef Quality Audits have been done every five years and include all segments of the beef production system — Cow-calf, Stocker, Finishing and Packer. Each year top issues to focus on are identified and improvements are sought.

Beef producers participate in BQA because it’s the right thing to do, it protects the beef industry from additional regulation, improves sale value of marketed beef cattle, demonstrates commitment to food safety and quality, safeguards the public image of the beef industry, upholds consumer confidence in valuable beef products and enhances herd profitability through better management. The BQA guidelines focus on what is fed, records for animal health and husbandry practices for the animals.

Wholesome feeding practices, veterinary-guided health care, low-stress livestock handling and care for the aging animals in the herd are some of the topics addressed in the BQA program. Additionally, ranchers are kept up to date on animal genetics for breeding excellent beef cattle.

The OSU Extension Service is offering BQA training on Friday, Apr. 12 during the Douglas County Livestock Association, Spring Livestock Conference, held at the Winston Community Center, 440 SE Grape Ave.

The SLC is for producers of all types of livestock and runs from 11:45 am to 8 pm. There will be many presentations, booths for visiting and dinner for those who preregister by Apr. 9. All are welcome.

Contact Rex at Douglas County Farmers Co-Op 541-464-6748; Parkway Animal Hospital 541-672-1621; or Kristina Haug haugkm@gmail.com.

Shelby Filley is the OSU Regional Livestock & Forages Specialist for western OR, housed at the OSU Extension Service of Douglas County. Shelby can be reached by email shelby.filley@oregonstate.edu or phone 541-236-3016.

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