From ranchers to veterinarians and everyone between, we all have a role in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of animals. In the U.S. cattle industry, animal abuse will not be tolerated. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has proactively developed multiple initiatives to assure industry wide adoption of sound animal husbandry practices. These programs, which are based on decades of practical experience, research and the most up-to-date science and education, ensure animal health and wellbeing and provide a safe, quality beef product for consumers here in the United States and around the globe.
Caring for cattle is not just something we have to do, it’s something we take pride in doing. I learned from my father how to care for cattle just as many other ranchers did. However, the face of our industry is changing. We can no longer rely on the tradition of passing animal care principles on from one generation to the next.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there are more than 308 million people living in this country. Yet there are only 742,000 beef cattle herds, of which more than 140,000 are represented by NCBA. Simply put, our work is cut out for us. That is why, as the oldest and largest national organization representing beef cattle producers, NCBA in 1987 developed the Beef Quality Assurance Program (BQA), which is funded by the Beef Checkoff Program, to provide an educational platform for the cattle industry.
BQA is a successful voluntary program that helps to proactively identify and address areas of needed improvement in beef production. It works because of the responsibility and the ownership of the industry. In the Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln said our nation’s government was developed “by the people and for the people.” I am not attempting to compare apples to oranges here, but history has proven when individuals take ownership, they take responsibility. BQA is a successful program “by industry, for industry” that should never be weakened by being misused or construed as the basis of a regulatory or government mandated program.
BQA was designed and is regularly updated to provide flexibility to meet the diversity of the industry, including geographical needs, every producer sector or business model and all producer sizes. As technologies continue to develop, so have our programs. Veterinarians, animal scientists and farmers and ranchers joined forces to develop more than 70 online training modules through the Animal Care Training Program, a cattle management training program, which is managed by the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University.