Certification: The new norm of doing business

More certification coming in the beef industry.

Beth Doran MUG.jpg
Beth Doran

ORANGE CITY, Iowa — Recently, I went to renew my driver’s license and learned a lot. By May 3, 2023, I will need a REAL ID (gold star) driver’s license if I want to book a commercial flight. To get this kind of license, I had to provide additional documentation as to who I was. So, I hunted up my original birth certificate, social security card, voter registration card and a couple of billing statements.

The experience reminded me that the cattle business is much the same way.

Certification has become the norm in doing business. Major packers and many livestock auctions now require feedlot suppliers to be Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certified.

Why? Consumers want assurance that the beef they eat is raised with attention to animal welfare, environmental stewardship and food safety.

If BQA certification can address their questions and expand international markets for beef, this is a positive. Plus, it benefits the producer because better management improves cattle performance and ultimately, profitability.


Beef Quality Assurance Transportation (BQAT) is another certification program that emerged three years ago. To deliver cattle to a major packer, the hauler must be BQAT certified. This applies to commercial trucking firms and to private producers who deliver their cattle to a packer with their own truck or trailer.

There are three benefits to BQAT certification — to increase transporter safety, to deliver cattle in a timely manner, and to provide the most comfortable transportation of the cattle. All three of these objectives benefit the animal, the transporter and the producer.

Stay alert because there is a new certification program on the horizon — the U.S. Cattle Industry Feed Yard Audit.

This will be a standardized audit conducted by the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization. It is a detailed and comprehensive audit that encompasses a review of feedlot records, protocols, animal observations, processing and facilities. My advice is to download a copy of the manual and recordkeeping forms from and begin gathering the documentation that is required. One major packer has acknowledged that they will be adopting the new audit.

Gazing into my crystal ball, I predict that certification will not go away. Consumers want to be assured, and if that is what it takes to sell beef, the beef industry is more than capable of meeting their needs and expectations.

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