The checkoff-funded National Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program, managed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn. (NCBA), is now recognized as an industry-leading animal welfare program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture 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 that they are aligned with the principles of the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE) Terrestrial Animal Health Code and to ensure 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,” NCBA beef cattle specialist veterinarian Dr. Julia Herman said.
To earn certification with the animal welfare standards, the BQA program underwent a thorough audit process that evaluated the program’s principles, guidelines and standards across its many resources, including the BQA National Manual and Self-Assessments. This recognition will mean that 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,” NCBA senior director of international trade and market access Kent Bacus said.
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% 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.