Why Age & Source Verification?
Why Age & Source Verification?
The demand for verification of age and source of the beef supply is increasing, not only within the industry but from consumers as well, both in the United States and around the world. Currently, the primary driver of age and source verification though comes from our export markets. After the first case of BSE in the United States in December 2003, many of our export markets closed their borders to U.S. beef. As these countries began reopening their markets to our beef they required that it come from animals of a certain age or younger. Most of these countries required that beef they import be from cattle less than 30 months of age. However, Japan requires the beef they import be from cattle less than 21 months of age.
How do we meet the age requirements of our export markets?
In order to meet these requirements, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) established a program called Beef Export Verification (BEV). Each country has a set of guidelines which must be met before they will except beef from the U.S. and the BEV helps us do just that.
For most of our export markets we can meet the less than 30 months of age requirement through physical examination of the carcass by an USDA inspector in the packing plant. However, it is more difficult to guarantee animals are less than 21 months of age (Japan’s requirement) through this process. In order to meet Japan’s age requirement, we must provide documentation as to the animal’s age. To do this, USDA uses two programs which are both designed to have third-party verification of documentation on an animal’s age. The programs are called a Quality System Assessment (QSA) and a Process Verified Program (PVP).
Through a QSA or PVP producers can provide documentation proving the age of the animals they are marketing. The documentation required varies with each program but can at a minimum be records showing the birthdates of the oldest animal in a group whether that is by using a calendar or a calving book where the information is recorded.
What is Tennessee doing to help producers market their cattle as age and source verified?
The Tennessee Livestock Network (TLN) works with a provider of an USDA approved Process Verified Program (PVP) to offer beef producers the opportunity to improve the marketability of their cattle through age and source verification. TLN, working with auction markets, also help to offer producers the opportunity to market PVP approved animals through special sales where there are buyers wanting the age and source verified animals.
How do I begin marketing my cattle as age and source verified?
If you are interested in marketing your cattle as age and source verified, start by talking with those you normally conduct business with to determine your best marketing options and develop your marketing plan. Areas to consider are timing, location, and calf growth/ genetic considerations. You might also talk to producers who are already involved in a PVP program about the record keeping requirements as well as their typical added costs and realized premiums.
To learn more about how TLN can help you market your cattle as age and source verified, click on the “Getting Started” link in the menu to the left.