As I travel around the country talking to cattle producers, I see more smiles on their faces than I have in years. Spring moisture has been better than expected, and some of the hardest-hit drought areas are beginning to see relief, allowing cattle producers retain their herds and continue to produce high quality beef.
We know that many of you are trying to work through the challenge of high beef prices, and we want you to know just how much we appreciate all you to do promote beef. As a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, our job is to provide the support, information, and materials you need to position beef as an important and successful part of your business. One area we do this is through the Checkoff-funded Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program and the National Beef Quality Audit.
Caring for cattle is the hallmark of our industry. Not only is it the right thing to do, but cattle that are well-cared for will yield higher quality beef. BQA was created as a way to train and certify cattle producers in the best production practices available. While every western movie likes to show cowboys yelling and whistling at their cattle, BQA demonstrates that a calmer approach keeps the animal’s stress level down while making it easier to get them to do what you want. The use of veterinary products to keep our cattle healthy is a critical production practice, but they have to be used appropriately. BQA instructs producers on how to handle, store and administer these products if they have to be used. One aspect of caring for our cattle is keeping them away from animal diseases. Biosecurity is a part of BQA training that helps keep animal diseases at bay, and it demonstrates the best practices required to prevent them from spreading if they do pop up. The BQA program continues to grow and evolve. Cattle production practices are always getting better, so the BQA program team works to update the training modules to stay up with current research and practices.
One of the ways we measure the success of BQA is through the National Beef Quality Audit. These audits are conducted approximately every five years and the 2022 audit results were just released. The results show that the overall beef supply chain is getting more efficient, and in a time where we are all hearing more about sustainability, this efficiency shows that we can do more with less. We are also seeing beef quality improve with a higher frequency of Prime and Choice beef. The audit also identifies areas we need to work on, and one of those is our continued challenge of decreasing instances of foreign materials, such as buckshot, showing up in carcasses.
Our job as producers is to ensure we deliver the highest quality beef to you and your business. We look forward to working with you more to showcase beef as the premier protein.