Course Number Two of the Masters of Beef Advocacy program was all about animal care and the programs put in place by the beef industry to ensure that standards are met.

The take home points included that beef producers believe giving animals the care, handling and nutrition they deserve is an obligation, not an option. I particularly liked this statement because it centers on the responsibility of caring for animals, not an economic justification for taking care of them. That’s something that resonates with consumers.

The course discussed proper nutrition for all stages of cattle including diets that are formulated with veterinarians and nutritionists that contain certain ingredients that are FDA, USDA and EPA-approved. Space and environmental issues were also discussed.

In a section called Quality Control, a brief history of the Beef Quality Assurance program solidifies in the participant’s mind the measures that have been taken for almost 40 years to ensure a quality product.

The last section discussed anti-beef activists, namely HSUS, PETA and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). Though it’s difficult to remember how these organizations may differ, the resounding message that the MBA program wants you to remember is that activist groups like HSUS, PETA and PCRM’s number one goal is to convince Americans to stop eating meat. And they do that in part by undermining agriculture.

My homework this time was to write a letter that I could send to a newspaper on animal care in the beef industry. I included many of the points about the obligation of animal care, proper nutrition (with veterinarians and nutritionists) and programs such as BQA to ensure a safe, wholesome and nutritious food. After the homework, another 10-question quiz.

This weekend I’m preparing to board a plane to Las Vegas and attend the Western Veterinary Conference. Every year on this trip on the airplane, at the hotel, at the conference (and yes, even at the black jack table!) I always run into either a consumer or even some veterinarians/technicians who lean toward the vegetarian and/or animal rights side. Some of them you can have a discussion with, some you can’t. But I already feel much more comfortable with some key points from MBA courses One and Two to have some conversations with those folks if and when I have the opportunity. I’ll let you know in my next installment if I was able to use what I’ve learned so far.