Beef Safety and Quality Assurancesm
Food safety and food quality continue to be pressing issues for the beef industry. And this is especially important in Cattle Feeding Country of Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, which feeds more cattle and raises more cows and calves than any other region in the country.
That's why cattle feeders throughout Cattle Feeding Country subscribe
to TCFA's Beef Safety and Quality Assurancesm (BSQA) program.
The program is one of the most extensive, aggressive and the oldest of its
kind in the country. The commitment to quality and safety among TCFA's
membership has never been greater, and TCFA's BSQA program is the tool
that helps them produce safe and wholesome beef.
Q: How many years has your BSQA program been in place?
A: We initiated our Beef Quality
Assurance Program in 1986. In 1996,
we expanded the program to include Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)
principles and completed that process in 1999 with the roll-out of our updated
Beef Safety and Quality Assurance ProgramSM.
Not being satisfied with the status quo, however, we again improved our
program in 2003 with the addition of animal handling guidelines.
Feedyards who qualify for our program go through an initial audit, then
are re-audited annually by TCFA and an outside expert. Qualified feedyards are
able to use the NCBA "Mark of Quality" and the TCFA Quality logo.
A: We initiated our Beef Quality Assurance Program in 1986. In 1996, we expanded the program to include Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles and completed that process in 1999 with the roll-out of our updated Beef Safety and Quality Assurance ProgramSM. Not being satisfied with the status quo, however, we again improved our program in 2003 with the addition of animal handling guidelines. Feedyards who qualify for our program go through an initial audit, then are re-audited annually by TCFA and an outside expert. Qualified feedyards are able to use the NCBA "Mark of Quality" and the TCFA Quality logo.
Q: What were the motivations behind the development and implementation of your BSQA program?
A: TCFA has long believed in "getting ahead of the curve" on issues that not only affect our members, but our consumers as well. Food safety and quality assurance are perfect examples. We felt, by being the first state cattle association to introduce a quality assurance program in 1986, that we could put our industry ahead of the curve as far as fulfilling our obligation to consumers to produce a wholesome product. That same philosophy applied when we updated our program to include HACCP principles. It is our belief that anybody involved in beef production owes their consumers the responsibility and obligation to participate in a safety and quality assurance program.
Q: What is the biggest challenge facing the beef industry in your state and how is your BSQA program helping producers meet this challenge?
A: If you asked our members what their biggest challenge is, they'd probably answer "it's the cattle market." A quality assurance program can't help them get higher prices or realize more value for their cattle - yet. However, as food safety becomes more critical and as various alliances become more prevalent, it may become very difficult to market cattle that haven't been produced under a BSQA program.
Q: In what ways has your BSQA program improved production systems and/or the quality of beef in your region?
A: Commercial feedyards, by their very nature, are number-driven businesses. So collecting and analyzing production figures is a daily task in a feedyard, and has been ever since the beginning of the industry. Our Beef Safety and Quality Assurance Programsm gives the feedyard a program and a system to utilize those figures more efficiently to do an even better job of feeding cattle. When emphasis is placed on safety and quality assurance, a better product is bound to result.
Q: How many producers are actively involved in your program? Have they been open to applying BSQA principles?
A: We've found feedyards, and the consulting veterinarians and nutritionists, to be very open to our BSQA program. Our updated program includes an audit by TCFA and third-party certification of a feedyard's BSQA efforts. Feedyards are being audited and certified as fast as is possible and the number of approved feedyards is constantly growing. Our goal is for every one of our nearly 200 Feedyard Members in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico to be audited and certified.
Q: What makes your state BSQA program unique from other states?
A: The fact that it was the first ever such program initiated by a state cattlemen's association and its present emphasis on HACCP principles.
Q: What is the most important thing you've learned through your involvement in the BSQA program?
That our obligation to consumers is a sacred trust and that we take
our obligation to produce a wholesome product seriously. Our Feedyard
Members embrace the philosophy of beef safety and quality assurance and
see the real need for such programs from the big-picture point of view.
That's very gratifying.