The sale pavilion was near capacity as an estimated 6,400 head of source- and age-verified cattle crossed the scales at Joplin Regional Stockyards near Carthage, Missouri on Dec. 1. The sale was the first in the nation at a Quality Systems Assessment approved livestock marketing facility.
QSA will be the program USDA uses to verify that cattle meet the age and source requirements for export, once trading resumes with Japan.
"The demand for age-verified calves continues to grow with each day," says Leann Saunders, IMI Global, Platte City, Mo. "This is just the beginning and it's great to see Joplin Regional Stockyards take a leadership role in this arena."
In October, Missouri became the first state to implement a QSA program allowing producers to sell source- and age-verified cattle with third-party verification. The move is critical for the United States to regain beef export markets.
The QSA program is especially critical to the beef export market to Japan. "One of the requirements that Japan is asking for is that the beef come from cattle 20 months of age or younger at harvest," explains Greg Onstott, QSA program specialist with the Missouri Department of Agriculture. "Cattle must be enrolled under either a QSA program or a PVP (USDA Process Verified Program) to qualify for this opportunity. Just signing an affidavit and stating that you know the birth records will not qualify cattle for this market."
Cattle marketed through MFA Health Track, the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association Quality Assurance Program, and the Missouri Cattlemen's Association Source and Age Verified Program also fall under the MDA's QSA umbrella.
Producers in line for premiums
Moriondo Ranch of Mount Vernon was part of a QSA pilot project conducted by Joplin Regional Stockyards earlier this year and will be consigning cattle to a future QSA sale. Owners Susie and Randy Jones know the value in keeping good cattle records at their ranch. "I think it [QSA] is going to benefit us in more dollars in the future," Susie Jones says.
Producers participating in the QSA program must not only know when a calf was born, but also must be able to back up its birth date with either written or electronic records. "It's not any different than what we already do," Jones says. "It's just forwarding the information on to where we're selling."
Joplin Regional Stockyards co-owner Steve Owens says producers who currently keep age records on their cattle are already in line for the QSA program. "The next step would be for a producer evaluation, to make the producer QSA certified," he says.
"It's an opportunity for small farmers and ranchers to be able to get added value," adds Kelly Roberts, who coordinates QSA producer evaluations for Joplin Regional Stockyards.
USDA's Market News reported that average cattle price of the Dec. 1 QSA sale was steady to $2 per cwt. higher over the special value-added sale held at JRS two weeks earlier. Owens also reported that QSA cattle sold $5 to $8 per cwt. over what they sold at a regular cattle sale on Nov. 28.
For more information, visit Web sites: www.joplinstockyards.com and mda.mo.gov.