The checkoff’s Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program is offering two new awards for 2012 that recognize the industry’s commitment to incorporating BQA principles as part of the day-to-day activities on their operations.

The BQA Marketer Award is open to livestock markets, cattle buyers and supply-chain programs that promote BQA to their customers and offer them opportunities to get certified. The BQA Educator Award is open to individuals or companies that provide high quality and innovative training to individuals that care and handle cattle throughout the industry chain.

Applications for both awards are due July 15, 2011.

By the way, did you know that -- with an eye toward increasing participation without reducing standards -- the national BQA is also introducing a new set of guidelines for cow-calf operators?

The BQA Cow-Calf Assessment will feature three tiers to allow producers to enter the program while continuing to improve their proficiency in producing top-quality animals, says Ryan Ruppert, director of the voluntary program. The goal of the checkoff-funded effort is to help create a higher level of trust with consumers.

• The first tier serves as the entry level and a foundation for the other tiers. All cow-calf producers in the industry should be adhering to the principles contained in the first tier.

• The second tier is aimed at producers already doing a good job and looking to improve.

• The third will be for cow-calf producers adhering to a program that is a model for others. Those in this tier should have operations so thorough that they will be comfortable giving consumer tours of their operation.

Read more here.