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Virginia Beef Quality Assurance Program

Beef Quality and Safety... It's Our Business

Producers working together to maximize consumer confidence in Virginia beef through the use of science, research, and educational initiatives.  From Gate to Plate, BQA is a positive step for producers and consumers.

As part of the Mid-Atlantic BQA program, Virginia BQA educates and certifies producers in best management practices that improve the safety and quality of beef.

The mission of Virginia BQA is to train and certify beef producers and allied industry professionals in all aspects of on-farm beef quality and safety.

  • BQA was established in 1987 by The Beef Checkoff to provide cattle producers with the tools and training necessary to assure animal health and well-being.
  • BQA is a preharvest, supply-chain management program that applies the latest science and technology to ensure safe and wholesome beef products for consumers.
  • BQA certification provides:
    • A formal commitment by producers to observe best management practices
    • Marketing and educational opportunities
    • Initial intensive course
    • Chuteside training
    • Re-certification learning activities
  • Set production standards that can be met or exceeded.
  • Establish systems for data retention and record keeping.
  • Provide hands-on training and education for participants.
  • Provide technical assistance through the Virginia Cattlemen’s Association, Virginia
  • Beef Industry Council, BQA-certified veterinarians, and BQA-certified Extension agents; offer on-site assistance if desired by producers.
  • Ensure that all sectors of the industry take responsibility for the production of a safe food product through proper animal care, handling, and management practices.
  • Vaccine and drug practices
  • Livestock feeds and the feed supply
  • Impact of management practices on carcass quality
  • Quality assurance of market cows and bulls
  • Cattle care: Handling and facilities
  • Transportation
  • Biosecurity
  • Nonambulatory cattle
  • Cattle identification
  • Record keeping
  • Provide adequate food, water, and care to protect cattle health and well-being.
  • Provide disease-prevention practices to protect herd health.
  • Provide facilities that allow safe and humane movement or restraint of livestock.
  • Use appropriate methods to euthanize sick or injured animals.
  • Train personnel to properly handle and care for cattle.
  • Minimize stress to cattle during transport.

Becoming a Beef Quality Assurance Certified Producer is a four step process

  1. Obtain a Mid-Atlantic BQA Manual (hard copy or Online)
  2. Attend or view the BQA Lecture Series (Online learning modules)

  4. Attend a Chute-Side Training Event
  5. Sign the BQA Producer Agreement

All four parts can be taken during a 4 hour BQA Certification Training offered in your area or you can do steps 1 & 2 at home. Note you may not proceed to step 4 until you have completed a Chute-Side Training Event (step 3). Step 4 may be completed after the Chute Side Training.

For more information about a BQA Certification Training or Chute-Side Training Event contact your county agent.

The Virginia Beef Quality Assurance Program under the support of the Virginia Beef Industry Council and Virginia Cooperative Extension has created the following presentation on Beef Quality Assurance. This session will substitute for the classroom portion of the BQA program. To become fully certified, please contact your local Extension agent to find a regional chuteside training session. 

Virginia Beef Quality Assurance Producer Training and Certification

  • Attendance to programs that involve premis and animal ID or the new veterinary feed directive cout as recertification credits
  • Check with your local extension agent to find programs in your area that include these topics. 

Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) is a program developed to ensure that beef and dairy cattle are produced and managed in a manner that will result in a safe and wholesome beef product for the consumer. This is the definition and the goal of BQA. Specifically, BQA is designed to enhance carcass quality by preventing residues, pathogen contamination and carcass defects such as injection site blemishes and bruises. The Mid-Atlantic BQA Certification Program is based on recommended national guidelines and scientific research. This program enables beef and dairy producers to enhance their product, maximize marketability, and strengthen consumer confidence.

Concern over food wholesomeness and safety is an important consumer issue. It is of utmost importance that the public knows beef is a safe product. BQA is a good business practice, which can identify potential problem areas to avoid potential product defects. A BQA program will help secure consumer confidence for expanding domestic and export markets. All sectors of the industry from seedstock, cow-calf and dairy producers, to stocker operators, backgrounders and cattle feeders must take responsibility for the production of a safe food product through proper animal care, handling, and management practices. The level of consumer confidence in beef significantly affects consumer eating habits and impacts the future of our industry. Consumer confidence is essential if we are to steak our claim in the meat case. Beyond safety, the economic importance of BQA can be seen when analyzing the top quality challenges within the beef industry. These quality challenges include: injection site blemishes, rib brands, excessive external fat, excessive seam fat, inadequate muscling, dark cutters, inconsistent size of meat cuts, and non-uniform cattle. All meat industries face similar concerns. By following BQA guidelines and management practices, beef producers increase the value of their product in the eyes of consumers, while enhancing their stewardship of natural and financial resources. Members of each industry sector should assume responsibility for the role they play in delivering a quality beef product to their respective markets. Will Rogers once said, The world is run by those who show up.  It is time for all of us to show up. By working together toward continued improvement of our product and our responsiveness to consumers -- we all benefit.

  1. Set production standards in your operation that can be met or exceeded.
  2. Establish systems for data retention and record keeping, which will allow validation of management activities and fulfill program goals.
  3. Provide hands-on training and education for participants to meet or exceed the guidelines of the BQA program and to realize the benefits of such programs.
  4. Provide technical assistance through: state cattlemen's associations, BQA certified veterinarians, and BQA certified university extension staff. These individuals will be available for on-site assistance if desired.