If a room full of agricultural journalists can obtain BQA certification, so can you. And through November 20, you can do so at no cost, thanks to a partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc. (BIVI).

The journalists received their Beef Quality Assurance training during a media conference sponsored by BIVI in mid-October. Kansas State University veterinarian and director of the Beef Cattle Institute Dan Thomson, DVM, PhD, led the session.

Thomson notes that the BQA program serves as a cornerstone in the industry’s efforts to ensure consumer trust and document good management practices. In addition to protecting beef quality, the BQA program provides a framework for ensuring and documenting animal welfare. Increasingly, activist groups target retailers and food-service companies, pressuring them to mandate beef-production standards on their suppliers. BQA is the industry’s best tool for showing retailers we already have sound, science-based standards for beef quality, food safety and animal well-being, and that we continuously work toward further improvements.

Thomson outlined how BQA standards address the internationally accepted “Five Freedoms” of animal care. The Five Freedoms include:

1.       Freedom from hunger or thirst by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor.

2.       Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.

3.       Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.

4.       Freedom to express (most) normal behavior by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal's own kind.

5.       Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.

In discussing the Five Freedoms, Thomson outlined how BQA includes guidelines and assessments include protocols for providing feed and water, ensuring cattle comfort, preventing injuries and disease and caring for injured or sick cattle, maintaining a good living environment and using animal-handling practices that minimize stress and prohibit all forms of abuse.

BQA training has never been so accessible, with online training and documents available through BQA.org and the BIVI sponsorship allowing no-cost certification. Visit BQA.org to learn more and get started.