Consumers in the beef industry are wanting to know more about where their food comes from and how it was raised. They have been seeking transparency on where their food is grown and produced, even looking for labels that indicate USA labeling and farm management practices. Labels also include descriptions such as antibiotic free and free of artificial ingredients.
Tyson Fresh Meats announced that it has become the first beef processor to license the Progressive Beef program. The program is a cattle management and sustainability program for feedlot operations. Tyson sees that their consumers are demanding more knowledge about their food and this program allows them to answer their questions. In turn, it helps beef producers give information and enhances communication between parties.
The Progressive Beef program helps heighten accountability and transparency through a verification system that includes the USDA approved auditors. The feed yards are verified twice a year and focus on three areas: cattle care, food safety, and environmental sustainability. Each audit is documented and hopefully aids in continuous improvement.
At the time Tyson made the announcement about the Progressive Beef program, more than 1 million head were cared for annually. In December, Wendy’s was the first restaurant to partner with Progressive Beef. The consumers’ demand for more information on their food could pressure the national cattle ID and traceability program.
At the sale barn, we host a couple of PREVAC sales each year and many local farmers are making a name for themselves. We have recently implemented a “Green Tag” program that coincides with the PREVAC. The green tag requires the paperwork and proof the medicine has been purchased for the cattle. Buyers are learning the quality of the cattle and how the farmer takes care of them. In turn, the buyers will pay higher live cattle prices because of the trust and experience they have established with the seller. Sellers provide the vaccinations given to the cattle, feed the cattle is used to having, and let us know how long they are weaned. This is also a form of transparency that we use in our livestock auction. Feedlots that participate in the Progressive Beef program would benefit from these types of sales especially after developing a rapport with farmers who go above and beyond for this program.
All in all, transparency will hopefully pay off for hardworking farmers and give the consumers the information they are wanting in making their food selection.