The industry has been buzzing for several weeks, as it appears that Japan might, even yet this spring, accept the world standard for BSE and move to a 30-month age requirement. That means that almost overnight, the underpinning of the age and source verification movement from an economic standpoint will be removed.
In fact, grid premiums are already being removed or lowered for age and source verification. However, it seems prudent to continue to age and source verify cattle until the age requirement is officially changed.
In addition, while the Japanese market has provided the financial underpinning and much of the incentive for age and source verification, we've seen source become a valuable marketing tool with several programs. In fact, both packers and feeders have come to equate source and age verification with superior genetics and management – those are things that aren't likely to disappear overnight.
And, certainly, the identification and verification companies have also been working with a whole host of branded programs to certify and verify a whole host of additional claims. Everyone seemingly agrees that we're looking at a major shift in the value of age- and source-verified cattle, at least in the short term, if Japan does move toward the world standard. But the rush to end age and source verification may be a little early.