NCBA: Beef Quality Assurance Program Earns Compliance With International Animal Welfare Standards
CENTENNIAL, CO (July 27, 2020) — The Checkoff-funded National Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Program, managed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), is now recognized as an industry-leading animal welfare program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has reviewed and certified that the BQA program complies with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Animal Welfare Management/General Requirements and Guidance for Organizations in the Food Supply Chain. The ISO specification was developed in 2016 to provide a path for programs to show they are aligned with the principles of the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE) Terrestrial Animal Health Code and ensures the welfare of farm animals across the supply chain.
“USDA’s affirmation that the program complies with ISO specifications is an important recognition of U.S. cattle producers’ continued commitment to delivering a safe, high quality beef supply while maintaining the highest animal welfare standards,” said Dr. Julia Herman, Beef Cattle Specialist Veterinarian for NCBA. Developed more than 30 years ago, the BQA program has become the industry standard for delivering education and resources to cattle producers. More than 85 percent of the U.S. beef supply today is managed by BQA-certified farmers and ranchers, according to the National BQA Database. By partnering with state programs across the country, the program reaches cattle producers on operations of all sizes, in all corners of the nation, with digital and in-person training and certification.
To earn certification with the animal welfare standards, the BQA program underwent a thorough audit process which evaluated the program’s principles, guidelines and standards across its many resources, including the BQA National Manual and Self-Assessments. This recognition will mean the BQA program is listed on USDA’s Quality Assessment Division website as being compliant with the ISO specification.
“BQA’s recognition by USDA of ISO compliance clearly shows that animal welfare is a top priority for America’s cattle producers and global consumers can rest assured that the American beef they consume is produced in accordance with the highest animal welfare standards in the world,” said Kent Bacus, NCBA senior director of international trade and market access.
ISO/TS 34700 represents the culmination of a joint effort between ISO and the OIE following a cooperation agreement signed in 2011 between the two organizations. The technical specification was completed in 2016 and is intended to support the implementation of relevant practices to ensure animal welfare in livestock production systems around the world. It will be a way for business operators in the food supply chain to demonstrate their commitment to animal welfare management.
About the Beef Checkoff
The Beef Checkoff was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States may retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has represented America’s cattle producers since 1898, preserving the heritage and strength of the industry through education and public policy. As the largest association of cattle producers, NCBA works to create new markets and increase demand for beef. Efforts are made possible through membership contributions. To join, contact NCBA at 1-866-BEEF-USA or firstname.lastname@example.org.