All cattle producers should consider completing their Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certification every three years, and convenient training is available in-person and online.
By: Katie Allen, K-State Research & Extension News
More than 30 years ago, a grassroots effort that involved many people in the beef industry led to the development of a training program that provided beef producers with proper management techniques. The program, first titled "Beef Safety Assurance" and now called "Beef Quality Assurance" or BQA, helps raise consumer confidence in beef production.
"It’s a tremendous program with a positive history and story to tell," said Chris Reinhardt, beef feedlot specialist for K-State Research and Extension. "This program was designed by several teams of beef producers, veterinarians, representatives of the packing industry and consumer groups, with the single goal of helping producers develop a set of standards to produce quality beef that is wholesome, safe and sustainable."
Reinhardt said many consumers know the nutritional value of beef and want to feed beef to their families. These consumers want to simply know that cattle producers are taking good care of their livestock and the environment and that the beef is safe to consume.
"What we need today and will need more of in the future is the ability to tangibly offer proof that we as beef producers are doing things well and justly," Reinhardt said. "We want to demonstrate it to that consumer who might not personally know any beef producers."
Training at your fingertips
When the program began more than 30 years ago, the standard delivery method for the training was face-to-face, where instructors would gather with beef producers at places, such as sale barns and other meetings, to deliver the program and certify the producers.
"There’s tremendous merit in that opportunity, being one-on-one with producers, answering their questions and dealing with their current concerns and opportunities," Reinhardt said.
Although BQA is still delivered in a face-to-face format, the same training also can be completed online at the convenience of the producer, he said. The online opportunity has been in development since 2004 by Kansas State University in conjunction with the Beef Checkoff and updated with new information as the beef industry develops and changes. The online training is hosted by K-State’s Beef Cattle Institute and can be accessed at Animal Care Training.
"It delivers the same training you can get at those face-to-face meetings online through a series of more than 30 modules that producers can access at their leisure," Reinhardt said.
The modules cover everything from birth of a calf, all the way through the packing phase, he said.
"We want the consuming public to know that we are taking the best care of that animal for its entire life, but also best care of the product that we’re selling to the U.S. and international consumer," Reinhardt said.
He said the online process is straightforward. After logging on to www.animalcaretraining.org, producers can register themselves and any employees who might be taking the training on their operation. Next, they should select "BQA." Producers can then choose to complete the modules or come back later to finish. They can stretch the training as many days as they need to complete all modules.
At the end of each individual module, there’s a simple five-question quiz producers complete, which confirms they’ve watched the modules. A checkmark shows they have completed each module, and producers will receive a certificate of completion.
Because everyone learns differently, Reinhardt said, the modules include sound, text on the screen, still photos and videos. The modules are intended to teach people through a simulation that mimics the in-person experience.
BQA training is comprehensive and ever-changing, Reinhardt said, which is why producers should consider recertification every few years.
"Pertinent elements continue to slowly evolve over time, so we’ve asked producers to re-certify every three years," Reinhardt said. "That ensures producers are performing the best management practices that we as an industry feel are the most up-to-date."
If you complete the training online, there is a $25 fee attached to certification and recertification. Reinhardt said they have tried to keep the cost as low and manageable as possible while still developing and providing a high-quality and effective training for the beef industry.
Learn more about BQA at Beef Quality Assurance.