Beef quality assurance and perceptions of a feeder calf certification for Montana producers
Holzer, Quinn Brendon
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The purpose of this study was to determine the desirability of a feeder calf certification for Montana producers, and determine select management competencies to be included in an educational Beef Quality Assurance program that will result in a perceived economic advantage for Montana’s beef cattle industry. Data for this study were gathered through questionnaires mailed to twenty percent of the active members of the Montana Stockgrowers Association, and all feeder-members of the Nebraska Cattlemen. Within the Montana Stockgrowers Association sample 534 sampling units, the response rate was 45.9%, as 245 surveys were returned. The response obtained from the Nebraska Cattlemen was 55.4%, as 77 of the 141 questionnaires were returned. Data collected from the Montana Stockgrowers Association were gathered in four categories: (1) certification acceptance, (2) management practices affecting a certification program, (3) professional educational contacts used in developing a herd management program, and (4) demographics. Data collected from the Nebraska Cattlemen were gathered in the same categories, with the exception of the educational contacts. Data analysis revealed benefit that could be gained through use of a certification program, but indicated a disparity in the perceived value of the program as viewed by feeders and producers. While feeders were willing to pay $3/cwt for certified calves, producers indicated they would need $5/cwt to continue to participate in a certification program. Although a high level of interest was reported, this indicated program retention would be a concern. Data also revealed differences in management practices across the state, as divided by the Montana Stockgrowers Association Executive Committee districts. This has implications for educational program development, as needs and perspectives vary. The researcher’s recommendation to the Montana Stockgrowers Association was to develop a system which would address Beef Quality Assurance in a more comprehensive, holistic approach.