Cattle Buyers to Require BQA Certification

Coming soon — fewer buyers for your cattle if you are not BQA-certified.

Marketing beef direct to processors or through many Michigan auction markets for full value will now require Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certification. BQA conveys commonsense husbandry techniques and scientific knowledge that demonstrate commitment to animal welfare, food safety and quality, safeguard the public image of the beef and dairy industries, and uphold consumer confidence in beef.


Recently, Wendy’s, the third-largest hamburger chain in the United States requested that its beef supply be responsibly produced under BQA guidelines. This has prompted Cargill Protein and Tyson Foods (as of Jan. 1, 2019) to require that purchased cattle come from operations that are BQA-feedyard-certified. Other processors may soon follow suit.


The feedyard certification is highly recommended for cow-calf producers, as this requirement may also affect the future marketing of cull cows and bulls. To market fed cattle in these markets, a producer must be able to supply their BQA certification number to the direct buyer or have their number on file with the auction market. In lieu of BQA training, one of the following certifications will also qualify youth, dairy or Canadian producers.


Certifications deemed equivalent to BQA for marketing beef cattle:

  • Youth for the Quality Care of Animals (YQCA) (youth ≤ 21 years old),
  • National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) (dairy producers), or
  • Verified Beef Production Plus Training (VBP+) (Canadian producers).


Regardless of the certification method, BQA certifications remain in effect for three years. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) will notify producers when certifications are nearing expiration. The BQA certification process can be completed in one of two ways.

  1. 1. Online BQA certification:    Go to the NCBA BQA website. Register and complete the free feedyard training and certification (cow-calf and stocker BQA are not required at this time, but are available). After completing the module and passing the assessment, you will be eligible to receive a certificate. If you are selling through an auction market, a copy of this certificate must be presented to your market prior to sale.
  2. 2. Attend a local BQA certification    Numerous meetings are hosted nationwide to give beef producers the opportunity to become certified. These meetings are a cooperative effort of local auction markets and extension. The meetings will consist of approximately two hours of instruction, a brief quiz and the ability to receive certification.


Regardless of whether you sell one animal annually or 10,000, those without certification will have their cattle sold as “non-certified.” It is important to note that this is not a mandate by the NCBA nor the auction markets, but rather is a requirement from beef processors and foodservice who sell directly to beef consumers.

Source: Michigan State University