SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A total of 2,520 beef producers throughout Illinois became Beef Quality Assurance-certified at workshops help throughout the state or by completing an online certification course in 2018.

The checkoff-funded BQA program is important to the cattle industry, as it provides producers a set of best practices for producing quality beef. It also assures consumers that the beef they eat is both safe and wholesome.

“Being BQA-certified gives me the confidence that I am treating my animals correctly. Most importantly, certification gives consumers the confidence that I am doing everything I can to ensure the health and nutritious value of the beef they purchase,” said Joni Bucher, a cow-calf producer from Marietta and IBA president.

“We need to be upfront with our animal husbandry practices, and BQA certification allows us to do that. It’s an overall statement of confidence to the industry and consumers.”

The BQA program covers best management practices, such as proper handling and administration of vaccinations and other products; elimination of injection-site blemishes; and low-stress cattle-handling principles.

“BQA is a program that started to improve chute-side mannerisms and decrease injection site blemishes. Today, this program is much more. It includes best management practices, animal handling, vaccine usage, and good stockmanship,” said Travis Meteer, University of Illinois Extension beef specialist and state BQA coordinator.

“BQA certification is a catalyst to becoming a better stockman. We owe it to those before us and the consumers who have beef on their plate tonight to continually improve our practices and stockmanship. I encourage everyone to get BQA certified.”

As the beef supply chain begins to notice and reflect changing consumer sentiment, the BQA program inches toward a tipping point where it has an opportunity to become more than just an educational forum.

Information and starting the discussion about the role and value of quality assurance is important. BQA is still a voluntary certification program, but some packers are implementing required producer certification by the first of 2019 as part of their cattle buying process.

Online certification is free. Visit www.bqa.org.

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