Beef Quality Assurance: Raising Beef the Right Way

November 6, 2019

Animal care is always top-of-mind when it comes to beef farming and ranching, and thanks to that ongoing commitment, today more than 85% of the beef supply in the U.S. comes from a Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certified farmer or rancher. Cattlemen and women care for their animals 24/7, 365—from the scorching heat of an Arizona summer to a frigid winter night in Montana. You don’t need to look far to witness examples of the beef community’s commitment to cattle care. Take it from Cody Easterday, a feed yard rancher from Pasco, Washington, when he says, “As science, research and animal care best practices continue to progress, we carefully use these advancements to improve the way we raise beef.” Cody’s caretaker instinct is not unique, in fact it is commonplace in the beef community.  

For more than 30 years, the beef community has participated in a voluntary, Beef Checkoff-funded, Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program to ensure U.S. beef is produced under stringent animal care standards, resulting in high-quality beef. The BQA program trains farmers and ranchers on best practices and cattle management techniques to ensure their animals and the environment are cared for within a standard set of guidelines across the U.S. beef industry. The industry is now producing more high-quality beef today than ever before, with more than 80 percent of beef grading the highest available USDA quality grades of Prime or Choice.1

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The foundation of BQA is a set of educational resources promoting animal care practices that are based in science and align with government regulations. They cover the areas of cattle health, handling, nutrition and transportation, among others. As an example, the program includes a 14-point antibiotic use guideline, ensuring farmers and ranchers judiciously use animal health products. An advisory group consisting of farmers and ranchers, veterinarians, and animal scientists advise the ongoing development of educational materials to help beef producers stay abreast of the latest information. 

Many large companies now require most, or all, of their cattle to come from facilities with BQA certified personnel, so this will continue to grow. While your diners/shoppers may not be able to see a “label” that says BQA certified, both you and your customers can feel good knowing that 85% of beef in the U.S. comes from a BQA certified farmer or rancher. 

In fact, more than 68 percent of consumers say that they consider how and where their food is grown and raised when making a meal decision, but only 24% of consumers claim to be knowledgeable about how beef is raised.2 Animal welfare is by far the top concern consumers have about beef production.

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That’s why the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is rolling out a national marketing campaign to introduce BQA to consumers this fall. Research shows consumers respond favorably to knowing there are a set of animal welfare standards that are consistently followed throughout the beef industry: at least 50% of consumers said simply knowing about the program was enough to alleviate some of their beef production concerns. After learning more about the program, 75% of consumers agreed that BQA increased their confidence that the beef they eat is safe and 67% agreed that BQA increased their confidence that beef cattle are treated humanely.

The campaign features a series of videos that introduce consumers to BQA and highlight the ongoing commitment of farmers and ranchers to animal care and producing high-quality beef. The videos appear on YouTube and are being promoted via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Additionally, more in-depth information about BQA is available on BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com.

The goal of the campaign is to help consumers continue to feel good about how beef is raised by highlighting the commitment of farmers and ranchers, through BQA, to raising beef safely, humanely and sustainably. Your diners may have questions about BQA, which is why we are hosting a webinar on Wednesday, November 20th at 2 pm ET to share more details about the program and the promotional campaign. Join us to learn how to leverage BQA to make your customers feel even more confident about ordering beef in your restaurant.

  1. https://www.ams.usda.gov/reports/meat-grading
  2. 2018 Responsible Beef Exploration, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff