October was a significant but disappointing milestone for the North Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Association (NDBCIA). The NDBCIA source and age efforts came to a close. The NDBCIA board of directors decided last spring not to renew its source and age verification program that was marketed as CalfAid.
The program renewal date was Oct. 3, 2013, so the program is officially on the shelf rather than actively sourcing and aging calves. Some would say that is OK, while others would say that is too bad. The long and short of it is that obvious price incentives for source and aged calves were lacking. However, the concept of verification has not gone away, although the intensity of the discussion of source and age verification certainly has lessened within the marketing environment.
Those who have been actively engaged in the beef industry for more than a decade realize that most things cycle and never really go away. Trends are just that.
They are more prominent at times and hardly noticeable at other times.
If a producer goes to the website for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service (http://www.ams.usda.gov), several opportunities exist to enhance a producer's marketing options. By selecting the Grading, Certification and Verification tab, several programs are available through the Audit and Accreditation Services.
The NDBCIA CalfAid program was on the official listing of programs approved through the USDA Process Verified Program. Each program that is listed identifies the claims that are to be verified, the scope of the program and how to get in contact with the company that is offering the program.
Source and age are two managerial components of a beef operation that can be verified. The USDA substantiates desired marketing claims by approving third parties to verify claims related to specific products or processes desired. For example, a company may list a claim, such as Never Ever 3. In this case, the claim states that no antibiotics, growth promoters or animal byproducts ever have been available or administered to an animal since its birth. The USDA audits the company to make sure the verification of the claim is complete and accurate so companies can add that claim to their program.
On Nov. 5, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Grading and Verification Division noted the creation of the GVD 1007 Procedure Quality Systems Verification Program, Never Fed Beta Agonists Program. This program will be available to add as a claim if a company chooses to offer verification within its scope of business. Again, the USDA will audit those companies that choose to add this claim.