Consider options for value-added marketing program
According to Lynn Gordon, South Dakota State University Extension, there are several options available to beef producers who are seeking opportunities to expand their current marketing options for their calf-crop. These options can add value to current practices and expand marketing avenues. Four of the commonly utilized value-added programs are:
--Source and Age Verification;
--Non-Hormone Treated Cattle;
--Never Ever 3.
To verify the source and age of your calf crop, producers should enroll in a Source and Age Verification Program, which is USDA-approved, non-biased and third-party audited. The most important step here is that you not only track the source and age of your cattle, but that you are enrolled in a "verification program," which will verify your record keeping documents meet the standards set by USDA. Source and age programs allow you to be able to meet the requirements of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), and the age verification provides the opportunity for your cattle to be export eligible to countries with age requirements on imported beef products (also referred to as Age and Source, S&A or ASV).
The Non-Hormone Treated Cattle Program, commonly referred to as NHTC, is another value-added option available to producers. The NHTC program is also a USDA-approved, non-biased, third-party audit program which verifies that your calf crop has not received hormones at any state of their life. The NHTC program was developed for beef products marketed for export to the European Union. The EU requires non-hormone beef for import. Cattle in the NHTC program will also be source and age verified, however, cattle sold into this export market can be marketed at 30 months of age and under.
The industry consists of many value-added programs targeting cattle raised under "natural" conditions. Several of these programs are packer specific or associated with a breed association or specific marketing group/program and these are affidavit based programs. Most natural programs are based on the cattle never receiving hormones, antibiotics, or animal by-products. However, each and every program has different standards and rules associated with the marketing statements of their products. It is important to understand that there is variability in the requirements as set out by each of the program specs.
The USDA-approved, non-biased, third-party audited natural program is called Never Ever 3 (NE3). This audited natural program follows specs and guidelines outlined by USDA. Cattle marketed under the verification of NE3 are required to never receive hormones, antibiotics, or animal by-products.
There are a number of beef verification companies currently in the industry who offer the services of enrolling, auditing and conducting third-party verification to beef producers. Producers are encouraged to research the services offered by these verification companies or contact an SDSU Extension Field Specialist focusing in beef cattle, to learn more about value added opportunities.