aThe notion that ranchers and farmers either do not care about their livestock or do not abide by moral and humane methods in their care is as abhorrent to livestock producers as it is to consumers. In the first place, animals are the heartbeat of their livelihood. In addition, it is part of the reason agriculturalists stay IN the business, especially when their lifestyle has come under such vehement and thoughtless attack. My ranching farmer husband puts animals FIRST — at all times. We do not have Christmas morning, for example, until the animals are first tended to…..I know of few as dedicated to the life and care of animals as do farmers/ranchers.

Secondly, it would be a ridiculous thing if farmers/ranchers were not careful and attentive to their livestock. Much has been done to insure that good care is given animals, too. One program that perhaps consumers know little about is the BQA, or “Beef Quality Assurance” program.

According to its website, “The Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program was initiated in 1987 to provide cattle producers with the tools and training necessary to assure animal health and well-being as well as provide a safe, quality product. BQA principals influence the management practices of more than 90 percent of cattle.”

BQA provides guidelines for beef cattle production.  Producers recognize that providing proper care, handling and nutrition is the right thing to do and makes strong business sense, as well. Farmers and ranchers across the United States oppose any form of animal abuse or cruelty.

The program hopes to raise consumer confidence through the assurance that proper management techniques and commitment to quality does, in fact, exist within every part of the beef industry. 

Another assurance, the “Producer Code for Cattle Care,” was first developed in 1996. It, too, reinforces the industry’s strong stand against animal neglect and/or cruelty. It outlines a set of production practices; the code states that “persons who willfully mistreat animals will not be tolerated.”

Moreover, to insure it dealt with all aspects of beef production, producers worked with animal health and well-being animal experts to develop the “Guidelines for Care and Handling of Beef Cattle.” These guidelines have been endorsed by the Academy of Veterinary Consultants and the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, plus the Food Marketing Institute and National Council of Chain Restaurants.

Just as do consumers, farmers and ranchers expect that as cattle leave their farms, ranches and feedlots across the country, that animals will be treated humanely and that every step will be taken to produce safe beef. It hurts ALL of us when abuses occur anywhere within the industry and agriculturatists are as unhappy as consumers when the trust and/or expectation for fair and humane treatment is compromised.

The Code of Cattle Care lists general recommendations for care and handling of cattle, and include the following: Farmers and ranchers will……

* Provide necessary food, water and care to protect the health and well-being of animals.
* Provide disease prevention practices to protect herd health, including access to veterinary care.
* Provide facilities that allow safe, humane, and efficient movement and/or restraint of cattle.
* Use appropriate methods to humanly euthanize terminally sick or injured livestock and dispose of them properly.
* Provide personnel with training/experience to properly handle and care for cattle.
* Make timely observations of cattle to ensure basic needs are being met.
* Minimize stress when transporting cattle.
* Keep updated on advancements and changes in the industry to make decisions based upon sound production practices and consideration for animal well-being.

FINALLY, the Code states that:
* Persons who willfully mistreat animals will not be tolerated.

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