Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability


Verified Beef Production assessing potential new modules

What producers need to know about plans that include farm animal care

Posted: January 28, 2014

Canada's on-farm food safety program for beef, the Verified Beef Production (VBP) program, is looking to add modules for biosecurity, animal care, and environmental stewardship. In an easy-to-use manner that complements current farm level practices.

While in its early stages, it has the potential for using VBP as an anchor for a second level of programming. To learn more NewStream asked Terry Grajczyk, national manager for VBP for more details.

Why is this being done?

In some markets there are indications that customers are asking for more assurances of sustainable production practices, and this is a way to respond to anticipated needs. The Canadian Cattlemen's Association continues to look at ways producers can secure further recognition and reward for credible production practices. Adding new options will promote acceptable beef production practices and demonstrate Canada's beef industry commitment to responsible production. That will help define Canada's beef story with positive benefits geared to match or exceed competing countries.

How will this fit with existing sustainability programs?

Previous and on-going work in this area will be utilized. Existing materials such as the national biosecurity standard, environmental farm plans, animal care codes, the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and other materials will be used wherever appropriate.

What is the expected implementation timeline?

Initial exploration work has been completed over the past year, and the next step will be to decide which modules will be adopted first and what specific timelines will be for each. We are in the early stages of this implementation effort and we are very aware that producers will want adequate input and assist in finalizing specific details.

What are the most important things you?d like producers to know as you move through this process?

Several things. One is that beef is not alone in this effort. The dairy sector has developed its ProAction initiative which is similar. And other sectors such as poultry and pork have added to their On Farm Food Safety programs.

Like the original VBP program, this is very much producer and industry driven. Additions to the existing program will be low cost and practical. While we know there are many issues to be considered and while we are not underestimating the complexity of this, we are confident of our approach. These will be optional modules which will begin with producer education, and likely further development of easy-to-use tools at the farm level.

We don?t want to add extra workload to a producer?s day; we want this as seamless to do at the farm level and assist or complement what producers do. Not add to it.

Also, sustainability is a rapidly evolving area and we recognize this process will continue to evolve and be a part of ongoing industry developments in each of these areas.

More information will be made available on the VBP website www.verifiedbeef.org.

Reprintable with credit. This article is available for reprint, with acknowledgement of the source as Meristem Land and Science, www.meristem.com.

Meristem is a Calgary-based communications firm that specializes in writing about western agriculture, food and land use. More articles at www.meristem.com.




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