Last month, twenty-five Livestock Extension Agents from around Florida attended training so that agents could facilitate these trainings in their own counties. This can translate into more opportunities for adults and students to become Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Certified in a “live” setting.
This topic of Beef Quality Assurance is more important than ever. As our world becomes more concerned with where and how we produce food (beef in our case), we must be more vigilant than ever to make every effort to be good stewards. Everyone that raises cattle (youth included) takes a role in producing beef that will feed people. Our management of cattle directly influences the food safety and quality of the beef that is produced. No matter the size of your operation, EVERY beef animal needs to be raised in such a way that will give Assurance to the public about the Quality of the Beef. (Notice how the words are re-ordered for emphasis).
Ultimately, all of the concepts covered in BQA training equip us to be better stewards and managers of cattle. Correct injection site location, needle selection, vaccination handling, record keeping; the list goes on. Think about this…if our vaccines are not handled correctly and are ineffective, that just sets up for sickness later. That means antibiotics are called in which we would like to avoid. Simple decisions and management can have big consequences later.
Youth (4-H and FFA) who raise livestock should be especially involved in BQA. It is becoming more and more difficult to find buyers for market steer projects. What if a student (or every student in an entire County Fair Association) could advertise that they have been BQA certified and explain what that means? It could be a great marketing tool, not to mention experience, for the students!
So, here is the challenge. Call your Extension Office and request the training. It is likely that you could learn something that may help you in your operation. Another challenge would be to share the information with others. Your knowledge of BQA and best management practices can be shared with the general public, as well. Any size beef producer, whether adult or youth, can make big impacts on how people collectively perceive the beef industry. People really do want to know what we do.
Recently, I had the opportunity to share about some practices in raising beef cattle to a small group learning about food and nutrition; these were not people raising cattle. I tackled antibiotics and growth hormones. I told them the why, the how, and the benefits as well as all of the oversight provided by FDA, USDA-FSIS, the Veterinary Feed Directive, FDACS and traceability. At the end, I was pleasantly surprised at the reaction. They all indicated they felt their perception of how our beef is produced had been improved and was “more favorable.” Get BQA certified and be more confident to talk about the where, the how, and the why of raising beef cattle and raise a safe, quality product in the process!