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Lake & Mendocino Cattle Producers Trained in Beef Quality Assurance

The Issue

There is growing concern among consumers about the quality and safety of the beef they consume. The 2000 National Beef Quality Audit listed the top concerns/desires of consumers as concerns about bacterial contamination and antibiotic residues; desire for "traceback" information, "natural" beef and organic beef; and concerns about animal welfare and the environment.

In response, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) has set a series of industry goals to be achieved by 2005. One of the most important of those goals is 100% Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training for beef producers. (The other goals deal with such topics as grade standards, cattle management, information systems, transportation and handling equipment, and improved eating quality of beef.)

The mission of the Beef Quality Assurance program is to maximize consumer confidence in and acceptance of beef by focusing the industry’s attention on beef quality through the use of science, research and education.

What Has ANR Done?

For the past 11 years, a team of UCCE advisors and specialists and Experiment Station scientists (Beef Safety and Quality Assurance Workgroup) has been working to achieve the industry's listed goals. They developed a Beef Quality Assurance curriculum in addition to conducting research and presenting educational training through workshops, seminars and field days.

In Mendocino and Lake Counties, UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor John Harper has conducted a total of eight beginning and advanced Beef Quality Assurance workshops and field days on such topics as Cattle Residue and Contamination Avoidance and Reproductive Efficiency in Beef Cattle. In addition, a special multi-state program on the Cow-calf Producer Manual was delivered, insuring that producers received the best technical manual available.

The Payoff

Ranchers certified on beef quality assurance change practices

In Lake and Mendocino Counties, 426 ranchers are certified as having completed the eight beginning and advanced Beef Quality Assurance programs (100% participation). Of the 115 producers attending a recent field day on vaccination technique in the Covelo area, 70% indicated that they had been giving injections improperly or not disposing of biologicals or medical waste safely, and that they would change their procedures and keep better records. Training in chute inspection and passive handling techniques have significantly reduced carcass bruising and improved animal welfare. Many producers are marketing cattle as meeting beef quality assurance guidelines. Four cattle ranchers in Mendocino are now producing certified organic beef.


Supporting Unit: Mendocino County

John M. Harper, UCCE livestock & natural resources advisor, Mendocino & Lake Counties, and county director, Mendocino County. 579 Low Gap Road, Ukiah, CA 95482-3734
(707) 463-4495 jmharper@ucdavis.edu