Now that Missouriâ€™s Quality Systems Assessment program has been accepted by the USDA, MFA Health Track calves can comply with the new federal designation, which means they will have the go-ahead for the toughest export markets. Specifically, post-bovine spongiform encephalopathy negotiations with trading partners like Japan have made QSA a necessary bargaining tool.
MFA Health Track manager Mike John says the pending opening of the Japanese market has already created a demand for QSA certified cattle because it takes about 180 days to finish those animals.
"The feed yards are willing to start filling the pipeline so theyâ€™ll have product when the market does open," John says. "So it will bring more buyers to Missouri because of the large number of feeder cattle that we have."
Missouri is currently the only state to achieve QSA program status and MFA Health Track procurement manager Steve Bartholomew says this gives Missouri producers a tremendous advantage in market access.
"The ability for Missouri to attain this level is really huge to our producers across the state as we look at trying to be a continued force in the feeder calf realm of business being the number two cow-calf state in the nation."
On the federal level, the QSA program is administered by USDA's Agriculture Marketing Service to assure customers of consistent quality products or services. The shadow of BSE has much to do with the importance of this program because importers want traceability that includes live animal production records with source and age verification.
According to John, Health Track made minor adjustments to become QSA eligible that will apply to any participants who want to be certified this fall.
"Primarily whatâ€™s involved is we have to do an official supplier evaluation at the farm that asks specific questions in relation to source of the animals and age of the animals."
To participate, Bartholomew says producers must have a state-issued premises ID number on file.
"Today thatâ€™s not an option. So, we do require under this QSA umbrella that you get a state-issued premise ID and have that on file. And that one of our people trained to do the evaluations will be out there and it will become a seamless part of our enrollment process as they enter in to Health Track."
All QSA-qualified calves certified by the Health Track program will require both a Radio Frequency Identification tag and the standard Health Track visual tag.