Greetings Nebraska Beef producers! My name is Jesse Fulton. I am the new Beef Quality Assurance State Coordinator for Nebraska. For the past five years, I was with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association where I worked on the Producer Education team. My duties at NCBA included working on the National BQA and Beef Quality Assurance Transportation program, managing the National Cattlemen’s College event, Cattlemen’s Webinar Series, and the 2016 National Beef Quality Audit. Prior to joining NCBA, I acquired my master’s in animal science from South Dakota State University where my primary focus was on meat science and fetal programming. My research at SDSU focused on the effect of copper and zinc source on pre-weaning performance of cows, health and performance of suckling calves, and post-weaning feedlot performance, carcass composition and meat quality of calves. Before heading to South Dakota, I received my bachelor’s degree at Morehead State University in Morehead, KY. While at Morehead, I lived at the university farm where I helped with the day-to-day operations when not in class at the horse, hog, sheep, and cattle units.
I grew up in the backwoods of Kentucky in Lewis County, near Tollesboro. Although my parents did not own any kind of operation, we did have a small spread where we raised our own beef each year. I would say my love for cattle began through us raising our own beef and spending time on my grandparent’s dairy, my great grandparents beef cattle operation, or neighboring cattle operations. Growing up, I had a yearning to learn all I could about farming, cattle, and horses. I was the kid that would show up at the neighboring cattle operation to “lend a helping hand”. I owe my entire agriculture knowledge to them letting me follow them around soaking up all the knowledge I possible could.
On Oct. 10, 2020, I married my bride Brittany Schaneman of Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Brittany and I met during our time at NCBA where she was the Director of Organizational Communications. With opportunity for both of us back in Nebraska, me heading up Nebraska BQA and Brittany taking a role with the Nebraska Women in Agriculture, we made our move back to Scottsbluff to enjoy “The Good Life”.
I’m excited to be coming onboard with the University of Nebraska – Lincoln as the BQA State Coordinator. If you do not know much about BQA, let me give you a little history behind the program. In the early 1970’s and 80’s, producers not meeting withdrawal times and violative residues plagued the beef industry. Cattlemen became concerned about governmental regulation within the cattle industry and began investigating ways to ensure safe production practices. Working alongside USDA – FSIS the beef industry developed a pre-harvest safety production program. This program became the backbone for today’s BQA program.
Today, the BQA program is a voluntary producer driven program that is based on HACCP principles developed from recommended national guidelines and research. It is a nationally coordinated, state implemented program that provides systematic information to U.S. beef producers of science based, common sense husbandry techniques that can be used to responsibly raise cattle. The mission of BQA is to maximize consumer confidence in and acceptance of beef by focusing the producer’s attention to daily production practices that influence the safety, wholesomeness and quality of beef and beef products. Currently the program influences the management of more than 80% of U.S. cattle today, helping ensure that farmers and ranchers are taking the best possible care of their animals.
An extension of the BQA program is the BQAT program. This program is aimed at certifying cattle haulers in BQA practices that are applicable during transportation. The BQAT program has been a growing program since many of the major packers require anyone who delivers cattle to their plants to be BQAT certified.
Implementation of the BQA and BQAT program in a state like Nebraska “the beef state” is important to the beef industry. Consumers of beef are wanting to know more about how the cattle being raised for beef is treated and handled prior to the end-product coming to their table. Participation in the BQA and BQAT program helps the everyday beef producer or hauler tell that story. A producer or cattle hauler who follows and practices BQA and BQAT principles demonstrates their commitment to beef safety and quality, safeguards the public image of the beef industry, helps maintain consumer confidence in beef, and protects the industry from governmental regulation.
My goal for the Nebraska BQA and BQAT program is to make it the leading BQA and BQAT program in the nation. If you are a cattle producer or cattle hauler, I need your help in achieving this goal by becoming BQA or BQAT certified today. It doesn’t matter if you care for or haul one or 100,000 head of cattle, you should be participating in the BQA and BQAT program. As a producer or hauler, you should see the program as a badge of honor, that you are doing your part to ensure a safe, wholesome product for beef consumers everywhere. I am here to help you tell that story. Let’s work together to give the state of Nebraska something else to brag about within the beef community.
I hope you work to become BQA or BQAT certified at your earliest convenience. For those that are already certified, don’t forget that certifications are only good for three years. Try to get to an upcoming BQA or BQAT training to certify or recertify. For more information, visit bqa.unl.edu. I hope I have the opportunity to visit with you somewhere down the road.
Interviews with the authors of BeefWatch newsletter articles become available throughout the month of publication and are accessible at https://go.unl.edu/podcast.