The Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program provides a producer-driven approach to producing the safest and best quality beef possible. The program began in 1987 and is supported by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) an organization funded by beef producers nationwide and the Beef Checkoff. The BQA program provides guidelines for livestock care and handling, nutrition and veterinary treatment. Cattlemen can become BQA certified when they meet criteria for quality beef production set forth in the BQA guidelines. Producers also undergo continuous training to remain certified. Most states have individual BQA programs and can offer their own certification standards. State certification requirements vary, but may include third party verification and testing procedures to ensure good management practices. For more information about NCBA's BQA, visit www.bqa.org.
Quality assurance during transportation also plays a critical role in the health and welfare of beef cattle, as proper handling and transport of cattle can reduce sickness in calves, prevent bruises, and improve the quality of the meat from these animals. The NCBA Master Cattle Transporter program (for cattle transporters) is part of the BQA initiative. The program consists of educational materials in a manual and on a training video. The Master Cattle Transporter Guide educates on properly moving cattle up to and in to the trailer, distributing cattle correctly on the trailer, hauling techniques that reduce cattle stress and handling emergency situations. A transportation quality assurance for stocker trailers is currently being developed. The Master Cattle Transporter program was developed utilizing the expertise of animal handling and transport consultants, producers, auction operators, feed yard managers, packer representatives and University researchers/experts. To learn more about the program, go to www.tbqa.org.
In addition to NCBA programs and state BQA programs, other organizations offer quality assurance programs, such as the certification provided by the Texas Cattle Feeders Association (TCFA). The TCFA program includes a third-party review and annual audit by a veterinarian or nutritionist to ensure criteria are met for nutrition, disease prevention, identification, and adequate shelter and housing.