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Frequently Asked Questions

In 2017, the Beef Checkoff began offering free Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certification. Currently, more than 200,000 beef producers are BQA certified.

Beef producers are dedicated to responsibly raising, safe, wholesome, high-quality beef. Being BQA certified tells consumers that producers have a commitment to delivering a product that is backed by science-based standards. Certification also addresses many questions that consumers have about beef production.

“It only takes a few hours of watching modules and answering questions but serves as a checklist for producers to make sure they are using the latest management practices,” says Josh White, Executive Director of Producer Education for the Beef Checkoff. “We have seen time and time again how consumer confidence is positively affected when BQA standards are followed, and producers have shown their commitment to producing quality beef by being BQA-certified.”

Become certified or re-certified for free at

Frequently Asked Questions

More and more consumers are using smart speakers in their kitchens, creating opportunities for beef to engage with them during the cooking process.

Chuck Knows Beef, the only all-knowing virtual beef expert powered by Google Artificial Intelligence, is here and ready to help consumers as their personal guide to all things beef. Chuck Knows Beef was developed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association as a contractor to the Beef Checkoff to address the Beef Industry’s Long Plan Range priority of revolutionizing the beef shopping experience.

As tech savvy millennials become parents, beef is meeting the need of this new generation of family cooks looking for food inspiration and information with the invention of Chuck. There are nearly 50 million smart speaker owners in the U.S. today1, with the two most popular devices being the Amazon Alexa and the Google Home Assistant, and Chuck Knows Beef is available as a “skill” on both of these popular smart speakers. People can also access Chuck Knows Beef through their mobile phone, tablet or desktop computer at the or the vanity website There have been more than 13 million visits to the since it relaunched in October 2017, and Chuck brings all of the beef knowledge from the website into these popular smart-speakers.

Who is the smart speaker consumer?

Why is this relevant?

Seventy percent of people agree that technical support would be helpful when shopping for beef with another 65 percent agreeing it would influence their purchasing decisions. 2Based on this research, Chuck was designed to fit consumer needs with instant access to recipes, cut and nutritional information and cooking tips – plus a whole lot more. If a user finds a recipe through Chuck, he can even text them the shopping list!

“Artificial Intelligence and its role in marketing are rapidly evolving every day, and the Beef Checkoff is on the cutting edge by investing in this technology to constantly meet changing consumer expectations,” said Season Solorio, Senior Executive Director, Brand Marketing & Communications, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, who manages the “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” brand. “In March we will turn things up a notch with an exciting campaign that will be an integrated effort, including digital advertising, media relations, influencer engagement and supply chain activities, to bring more widespread awareness to Chuck.”

From artificial intelligence to virtual reality ranch tours, beef continues to embrace technology in new ways. Through the introduction of Chuck, the checkoff is enhancing consumers’ knowledge and experience with beef at the store and in the kitchen. Chuck also provides the opportunity to have a real-life focus group so that the Beef Checkoff can constantly understand what the consumer needs and wants in real-time and understand the nuances in how people talk about beef.

Quickly access Chuck at, or enable Chuck Knows Beef with any Amazon Alexa or Google Home Assistant, and join the 500,000 consumers who have visited Chuck so far.


cows with tractor and hay

Frequently Asked Questions

Good and Getting Better: Key Improvements Being Made by Cattle Industry

The Cattlemen’s Stewardship Review (CSR) is a Beef Checkoff-funded report highlighting the commitment cattle producers demonstrate in the areas of animal welfare, beef quality, sustainability, and community involvement. The CSR gathers data from an independent 2017 telephone survey of beef producers to deliver a comprehensive profile of the U.S. beef community today. The report and survey were coordinated by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) as a contractor to the Beef Checkoff program.
The CSR shows that improvements have been made in all four of the cattle industry areas studied. The report and information will be presented within a national news release to national media outlets, as well as sent to key national media by the NCBA communications team, as a Beef Checkoff contractor.

“We want consumers to know we aren’t just farmers and ranchers, but also animal caretakers, nutritionists, small business owners, environmentalists, and members of our communities,” said Joan Ruskamp, Cattlemen’s Beef Board chairman and co-owner of J & S Feedlot in Nebraska. “This report is a way to benchmark our progress, celebrate our successes and identify opportunities for improvement.”


A few brief, yet key takeaways from the survey include:

  • The well-being of cattle is the top priority for 95% of producers.
  • 97% of cattle farmers and ranchers believe producing safe beef is crucial to the future of the industry.
  • About 95% of producers say conservation of land is extremely important to them, while 86% manage their operations in a way that protects the quality of natural resources, including wildlife and biodiversity.
  • Over 90% of cattle operations are family owned, and 78% of farmers and ranchers say they intend to pass their operations on to future generations. In fact, 58% of current operations have been in the family for at least three generations.

“When consumers understand the level of care that goes into the production of their beef, they feel better about enjoying it,” said Ruskamp. “This report helps show that [producers’] attention to the needs of our animals, land, and relationships parallel the concern our customers have for the beef they eat.”

To view the full report, go here.


cows with tractor and hay

Frequently Asked Questions

CENTENNIAL, CO — More than 20,000 individuals have gone online to obtain Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certification since online training modules were relaunched on Feb. 1, 2017. BQA certifications are also available at in-person training events offered through state beef councils, cattlemen’s affiliates, extension programs and other local efforts throughout the country. The BQA program is funded by the Beef Checkoff Program.

By showing how common-sense husbandry techniques can be coupled with accepted scientific knowledge to raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions, BQA helps beef producers capture additional value from their market cattle, and more. It also reflects a positive public image for the beef industry and instills consumer confidence in it. When producers implement the best management practices of a BQA program, they assure their market steers, heifers, cows and bulls are the best they can be.

The online BQA experience is tailored to each participant by industry sector and interest. After registering, participants are taken through an interactive training module that can be completed online, anytime, with participants starting and stopping training at their convenience without losing progress. Categories for training and certification include Cow-Calf, Stocker, and Feedyard. Online training and certification is available for free and accessible twenty-four hours a day, seven days each week, making it a convenient option for busy farmers and ranchers.

States with most online certifications to date are Texas, Kansas, Iowa, Tennessee and California.

To find out more about BQA online certification, go to

truck driving in pasture

Frequently Asked Questions

Press Release Via NCBA

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, has announced the winners of its prestigious 2018 Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Awards at the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention in Phoenix, Arizona.

The National BQA Award recognizes outstanding beef, marketer and dairy producers that demonstrate animal care and handling principles as part of their day-to-day operations. A common trait among all contest entrants must be a strong desire to continually improve BQA on their operations while encouraging others to implement the comprehensive cattle management program. The awards focus on five categories, including Cow-Calf, Dairy, Feedyard, Marketer and Educator of the Year.

2018 BQA Cow-Calf Award

Bently Ranch, located in Minden, Nevada, is the recipient of the 2018 Cow-Calf BQA Award. The ranch has a focus of doing the right thing in all aspects of beef production. Bently Ranch takes on a relaxed and low-stress attitude with a commitment to proper animal care and handling. With a recent focus on selling direct to the consumer, the ranch has noticed a big difference in the quality of their cattle thanks to implementing BQA practices.


2018 BQA Dairy Award

Kraft Family Dairies, located in Fort Morgan, Colorado, is the winner of the 2018 BQA Dairy Award. Simply put: they care for their cows. By combining their passion with a focus on preventative health management, the farm showcases their commitment to BQA guidelines in every step of their dairy operation. What makes Kraft unique is its two-farm operation. One site houses healthy cattle. The other takes in animals that may need a little TLC. By using this two-site system, Kraft Family Dairies has drastically cut down on the number of cattle in the hospital.


2018 BQA Feedyard Award

The winner of the 2018 BQA Feedyard Award is BLAC-X Farms in Rock County, Minnesota. Between the two minds of the Bakken brothers, Jay and Peter, they share an extensive knowledge of the feedlot, cow-calf herd and crop operations. With a focus on education, they participate in several research projects and share their ideas on the best BQA practices with hundreds of others during tours of their operation.


2018 BQA Marketer Award

Central Livestock in South St. Paul, Minnesota, has been named the 2018 BQA Marketer Award winner. Their marketing practices encourage producers to focus on BQA vaccination standards by incentivizing vaccinations in the sale ring. Cattle that are up-to-date on vaccinations sell for higher prices. They also have step-by-step guides for producers to follow that highlight animal safety, ultimately yielding the best cattle.



2018 BQA Educator of the Year

Dr. Ron Gill is the winner of the 2018 BQA Educator of the Year award. In addition to his responsibilities as professor at Texas A&M University, Dr. Gill takes his lessons outside the classroom and into the field for collaborative, hands-on demonstrations through NCBA’s Stockmanship and Stewardship program. Not only an avid proponent of BQA practices, he’s also helped develop some of the BQA guidelines that many producers follow today.


Award winners are selected by a committee comprised of BQA certified representatives from universities, state beef councils, sponsors and affiliated groups, who assess nominations based on their demonstrated commitment to BQA practices, their service as leaders in the beef industry and their dedication to promoting the BQA message to grow consumer confidence.

Four National BQA Awards (Cow-Calf, Feedyard, Dairy and Marketer) are funded in part by the Beef Checkoff program with additional financial support provided by Cargill. The BQA Educator Award is funded in part by the Beef Checkoff program with additional financial support provided by Boehringer Ingelheim.

You can read more on each of the award winners’ operations at

Media can contact Kellie Wostrel, APR, (402) 818-1114, for a media kit including pre-written stories, videos and photos.

silhouette of man riding horse

Frequently Asked Questions

Over the past few months, the Beef Checkoff has been using the “Rethink the Ranch” media campaign to help consumers gain a better understanding of how cattle producers care for their livestock and introduce them to the environmental practices farmers and ranchers are using to produce the world’s best-tasting beef.

It is important that consumers understand how committed producers are to serving as faithful stewards of the environment and the valuable natural resources that have been entrusted to them.

Elaine Utesch is part of the Triple U Ranch, a family-run cattle operation near Washta, Iowa, that has made environmental stewardship a top priority. In fact, in 2000, their efforts were recognized when they received the Environmental Stewardship award from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff.

“Stewardship is something that we feel strongly about,” says Utesch. “We are here for the long haul and this land is our legacy that we will be able to pass on to our children and their families.”

When her father-in-law, William Utesch started working this land, he made environmental stewardship his mission by implementing sustainable practices such as developing watersheds and building buffer strips, terraces and ponds to protect water and prevent erosion.

“He had a strong feeling of stewardship of the land,” explains Elaine. “He made it a real mission to leave the land better than when he started, and that’s something he’s passed on to his sons and their families.”

Out west, water management is critical. Kevin Kester uses the latest technology to conserve water and manage grazing systems on the Bear Valley Ranch, located near Parkville, California.

“We’ve invested a lot in solar technology for our water systems that allows us to pump water up in the higher elevations,” says Kester. “Because we can distribute water resources more effectively and efficiently, we are better able to manage grazing and protect grasslands.”

These are the kinds of stories the Beef Checkoff is sharing with consumers on the new “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner.” website. The site provides consumer-friendly, easy-to-understand information to show how beef producers are being effective stewards of the land and resources.

Check out the redesigned website. Follow #RethinkTheRanch on social media.

farmer herding cows

Frequently Asked Questions

In October, the Beef Checkoff launched “Rethink the Ranch,” a campaign that is working to build a strong pasture-to-plate connection between ranchers and consumers and help consumers gain a better understanding of how cattle producers are using advanced technology to benefit their businesses and the environment.

A perfect example of how technology is being used can be found at the Bear Valley Ranch, located near Parkfield, California. The Kester family put down roots and started ranching there 150 years ago in 1867. Back then, no one could have predicted how technology would be used to manage cattle operations.

“Every time there is a new technology, we try to take advantage of it,” says Kevin Kester. “Most recently, we purchased a commercial drone that we use to gather cattle, look at our water troughs and make sure everything is functioning correctly.”

Kevin says that with over 100 miles of roads on the ranch, the drone saves them a lot time and energy that would be taken up in driving down those roads.

“If cattle are in a rugged part of the country where it’s harder to herd them with dogs or on horseback, we can fly the drone over them and get them moving in the direction we want for gathering them,” he says.

Along with drone technology, the Kesters are using solar technology to operate water systems and manage grazing systems.

“We’ve developed a lot of solar technology for our water systems that allows us to pump water up in the higher elevations,” he says. “That helps us manage grazing. It’s also good for the wildlife after the hot summer we had. Not only does technology help us in our business, it’s beneficial for the environment and conservation.”

Brian Medeiros is also using technology to reduce energy costs on the Medeiros and Sons Dairy Farm in Hanford, California.

“We want to be as self-sustaining on power as we can. We put in solar panels this past year and that’s going to take care of eighty percent of our electrical uses,” says Medeiros. “In the future, we’re going to look at other things such as methane digesters and projects that can help us be as self-sustaining as possible without being a burden to anyone else.”

These are the kinds of stories the Beef Checkoff is sharing with consumers on the new “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner.” website. The site provides consumer-friendly, easy-to-understand information to show how beef producers are being effective stewards of the land and resources.

Check out the redesigned website. Follow #RethinkTheRanch on social media and learn more about the campaign here.

tractor carrying hay

Frequently Asked Questions

Via Drovers

In its beginning, Beef Quality Assurance meant producing beef without drug residues or physical defects. Those standards remain critical today, but over the past 20 years the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program has evolved to mean much more. Stockmanship practices, for example, play an important role in preventing physical defects such as bruising or stress-related effects on beef tenderness and grade. These practices also influence public perceptions, as consumers increasingly expect adherence to animal-welfare standards as a necessary component in their perception of beef quality.

A September Stockmanship and Stewardship conference in Fort Collins, Colo., focused on the important role of animal in BQA, while also providing instruction on improving cattle handling techniques. Colorado State University hosted the event with sponsorship from Boehringer Ingelheim and the national and Colorado Beef Checkoff programs.

Renowned Colorado State University animal-welfare specialist, Temple Grandin, gave the keynote address. She says that while handling practices have improved on cattle operations and at packing plants, many consumers remain unaware of the industry’s progress and continued efforts. The BQA program, she says, provides a scoring system for animal handling, which producers can use to develop a baseline for tracking progress, prevent backsliding, and communicate their efforts.

Immunity and animal welfare are proven allies. Studies have demonstrated the relationship between animal health and beef quality, and the importance of disease prevention, rather than reliance on treatments. Veterinarian Jerry Woodruff, with Boehringer Ingelheim, discussed how overall stockmanship practices complement vaccinations.

“Preventative animal health practices represent a proven path to antibiotic stewardship,” Woodruff says. In the cow-calf herd, this includes nutrition with trace minerals, parasite control, vaccination, and a low-stress environment that allows cattle to optimize performance.

Adds Value

Good husbandry, like other BQA practices, can add value to cattle and beef while improving ranch productivity and profitability.

Attention to animal well-being also helps fulfill the “social responsibility” aspect of sustainable production, says Lily Edwards-Callaway, an animal scientist and welfare specialist at Colorado State University. She works closely with the packing industry on welfare issues, and says companies initially began documenting their animal welfare standards as a means of avoiding risk. Today however, companies increasingly view that documentation as a marketing tool, and promote their welfare programs to gain a competitive advantage.

Benefits at the Ranch

At the ranch level, producers stand to gain from improved animal health and performance. Colorado State University agricultural economist Dan Moony and beef extension specialist Ryan Rhoades summarized research supporting the benefits of good stockmanship.

Rhoades notes some producers believe low-stress handling will take more time or more labor, but this is not true in most cases. Costs to the producer generally do not increase, so the question hinges on measuring returns. Some are difficult to measure, such as the value of a better work environment for employees. We can, however, measure effects on economic factors such as weight gains and fertility.

Mooney and Rhoades outlined results of several research trials:

  • A 2014 Oregon State University study showed low-stress acclimation for replacement heifers improved conception rates and was associated with lower chute scores.
  • A Washington State University trial in 2014 showed a 8.4% lower conception rate in heifers rated as “high-temperament.”
  • A 2015 Texas A&M University study showed acclimating calves at arrival in the feed yard reduced mortality. Feed intake improved and average daily gains increased by 0.25 lb. in the first 30 days.
  • A 2014 study at Virginia Tech found low-stress handling resulted in higher feed intake and an average of 20 lbs. heavier weights at 30 days post weaning.
  • Based on 10 years of data, Mooney says foregone weight gains attributable to stress range from $1 to $11 per head, and shrinkage during marketing and shipping can range from $2 to $20 per head. Actual costs can vary widely depending on the operation, Mooney says.

Put it in Practice

Following the presentations, the Stockmanship and Stewardship program moved outdoors for discussion and demonstrations with cattle-handling specialists Curt Pate and Ron Gill. Both say they have seen growing awareness and broader application of low-stress stockmanship principles. They encouraged students and young producers to learn and “carry the torch” in helping the industry improve.

If you want to get good at it, teach someone.

Ron Gill

Work cattle slowly while learning, Pate suggests. Once you become more comfortable with reading cattle, you can work faster. Sometimes, he says, cattle need more pressure rather than less.

Gill and Pate described three types of pressure to use in moving cattle:

  • Maintaining pressure. Apply just enough pressure to keep the herd’s attention and keep them moving.
  • Driving pressure. Apply pressure to the front of the animal to help get it moving in the desired direction.
  • Drawing pressure. Use pressure and release to get cattle to move past you, such as through a gate.

Pate says a person on foot often can apply more precise pressure than the same person on a four-wheeler or horse. Moving cattle on horseback can work well with minimal stress, but requires a skilled rider and well-trained horse to apply and release pressure with precision. Gill stresses the need to stay focused while working cattle. Pay attention to their behavior and reactions, and adjust accordingly.

For free BQA certification or to be recertified free, go to

cows in pasture

Frequently Asked Questions

Coupled with the website redesign for “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner.”, the Beef Checkoff has launched “Rethink the Ranch,” a campaign that is working to build a stronger pasture-to-plate connection between ranchers and consumers by showcasing real farmers and ranchers and their real stories about how they produce beef.

Based on consumer research, people purchasing beef want to know more about sustainable farming and the use of antibiotics and hormones. “Rethink the Ranch” is highlighting beef producers across the U.S. to explain to consumers how they raise beef responsibly.

Cody Easterday, who operates feedlots in eastern Washington, knows the important role technology plays in beef production.

“Thanks to the technologies that we have at our feedyard, we’re able to keep the animals more comfortable, we’re able to improve the environment around us and we’re ultimately able to raise the safest, healthiest beef for people around the world.”

By being transparent and sharing with consumers all that goes into raising cattle, “Rethink the Ranch” is illustrating the hard work and long hours farming families invest in their livestock, along with the advanced technologies being utilized to raise the best beef in the world.

According to Elaine Utesch from the Triple U Ranch in Washta, Iowa, this a story worth telling.

“As a producer, it’s my responsibility to let people know that farms like ours is where their food is coming from,” says Utesch. “And the Beef Checkoff lets consumers know that their food is produced using sustainable, environmental practices.”

The checkoff, via the “Rethink the Ranch” campaign, is providing a consumer-friendly, easy-to-understand way to communicate the complexities of raising quality beef in a way that consumers have probably never heard – or seen – before.

Check out the redesigned website. Follow #RethinkTheRanch on social media and learn more about the campaign here.


Frequently Asked Questions

Promoting beef has become more complicated than it was in 1992 when the Beef Checkoff launched the “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner.” brand.

With consumers becoming more and more interested in where their food comes from, the Beef Checkoff is kicking off “Rethink the Ranch,” a campaign targeted toward consumers to re-introduce them to beef as part of the 25th anniversary of “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner.” The campaign showcases real farmers and ranchers and their real stories about how they produce beef.

“Rethink the Ranch” is building a stronger pasture-to-plate connection between ranchers and consumers, highlighting the humanity behind beef production.

To showcase this humanity, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, took a camera crew and travelled 3,800 miles across the U.S., visiting six different cattle operations in four states. They captured more than 100 hours of video, along with images and stories about everyday farmers and ranchers.

Follow these producers’ stories from Iowa, Washington, Florida and California to see how the checkoff is helping consumers #RethinkTheRanch. Share their stories with consumers so they can meet some of today’s farmers and ranchers who bring beef from pasture to plate. Consumers will also learn about the advanced tools and techniques that are used in beef production.

This will be the first time that will promote both the product and the people who produce that product. The site tells a brand story that is focused on promoting beef’s greatest strengths: the unbeatable taste of beef, the people and production process behind beef, the variety and ease of cooking beef and the nutritional strength that beef provides.

Click here to visit the NEW!

tractor carrying hay

Frequently Asked Questions

Brief Summary of 2016 National Beef Quality Audit Results Shared at Cattle Industry Summer Meeting

Data from the 2016 National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA) suggests the beef industry continues to improve the quality of its products, but there is still room for improvement. Results from the research were presented at a session during the 2017 Cattle Industry Summer Meeting in Denver on July 13.

Download the 2016 National Beef Quality Audit Executive Summary here.

Among the positive findings in the 2016 NBQA are a significant increase in Choice and Prime carcasses, a high mobility score for cattle entering packing plants, and the fact that the number of blemishes, condemnations, and other attributes that impact animal value remain small. Among areas for improvement was that more bruising was evident (although bruising was less severe) and that more than 30% of livers harvested did not pass inspection and were condemned.

“The research proved the beef cattle industry has a great story to tell, but also suggests we aren’t getting that story to as many people as we should,” said Josh White, Executive Director of Producer Education for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. “Utilizing the Beef Quality Assurance program and its principles more uniformly throughout the industry could not only enhance industry commitment to better beef, but would help increase consumer confidence and encourage greater beef demand. This research suggests that carrying the BQA message throughout the industry would benefit every beef audience.”

The NBQA, funded by the Beef Checkoff program, has been conducted every five years for the past quarter century, and provides a set of guideposts and measurements for cattle producers and others to help determine quality conformance of the U.S. beef supply. Results found through the NBQA have helped lead to improvements in cattle and beef production, including reductions in carcass blemishes and fewer lost opportunities related to branding and other practices.

Read more in-depth information about the results from the 2016 NBQA here [link to 2016 National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA): The Results Drive article].