Ron Eustice, retiring executive director of the Minnesota Beef Council (MBC), has received an outstanding achievement award from the national checkoff-funded Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program for helping develop and promote its producer training curriculum during his long professional career. Eustice accepted the award during the cattle industry’s annual summer conference, July 25-28, in Denver.

Ran Smith, DVM, chairman of the BQA advisory board, presented the award to Eustice, who led MBC for more than 22 years. Eustice has been a pioneer in many aspects of BQA, including food safety; proper use of antibiotics; outreach to the dairy industry; and creating and teaching Spanish-language training modules, Smith noted.

“Ron is one of BQA’s longest-serving and most committed program advocates,” added Ryan Ruppert, senior BQA director for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the beef checkoff. “State leadership like Ron’s is invaluable in building networks of vets, extension staff and producers who believe in BQA and work to increase BQA certification among fellow cattlemen and women.”

Eustice said he became involved in quality programs in 1991, when retailers approached several states with concerns about injection-site lesions. After a widely concerted effort to develop best practices and train producers on alternative injection methods, this defect declined in subsequent quality audits, Eustice said. The recently released 2011 quality audit, the most extensive ever conducted by the industry, shows more than 80% of producers favor the neck as the proper site for injections. This is a practice BQA has long advocated.  

“We’ve made tremendous strides in solving that problem and are constantly working to insure high, consistent beef quality by using superior herd management practices that make a big difference. In my opinion, the BQA program and audits have given us some of the most significant outcomes we’ve seen from checkoff investments,” Eustice said.

The job continues, Eustice noted, with a focus on animal comfort and responsible antibiotic use. He believes the industry should be BQA-proud and transparent about responsible food animal production practices. 

“BQA should be routine. We’re proud of what we do. Every farm, ranch, feedlot, dairy operation and cow-calf producer should embrace BQA and on-farm audits to show retail, foodservice, our consumers and anyone else that we care,” he said.