In a nutshell, Beef Quality Assurance is a national program that raises consumer confidence by educating people on proper management techniques and a commitment to quality within every segment of the beef industry (BQA.org). When better quality cows leave the farm and reach the grocery store, the cattleman, packer, and consumer all benefit. If consumers are more confident about the beef they are buying, they are more apt to purchase again.
What makes it difficult?
One hurdle is the fact that there are many family-owned cattle producers in our country. There is no centralized production because raising cattle takes place all over the country utilizing land not suitable for other agricultural uses. Cattle can grow on many forages and by-products to produce a very high quality protein source for our food supply. There are nearly 1 million U.S. cattle ranchers and nearly 97% are family-owned. While this is a plus in many respects, it can come with some drawbacks such as producing a very consistent product.
Many larger-scale beef producers have already participated in Beef Quality Assurance training and have received their certification. The next level of implementation is getting the smaller producers on board. As more Good Management Practices are implemented, the quality of beef becomes more improved and consistent.
How does UF/IFAS Extension play a role?
The University of Florida/IFAS Extension has always striven to help people solve problems, develop skills and build a better future. Beef Quality Assurance goes hand-in-hand with this mission. Cattlemen and women in the area can participate in educational events that help them implement management practices that will both improve the quality of cattle they produce and improve their profitability.
Even though you may not be a cattle producer, you can take some comfort (assurance) in knowing that beef cattle producers and the industries that support them are doing all they can to provide a safe, consistent product.
If you would like to attend a seminar, one is coming up on April 11 at the Pasco County Extension Office. We plan to practice Body Condition Scoring and Improving Genetics in your Herd. Check out our event calendar