The story of the VBP+ program began back in 1995 when the Canadian Cattlemen's Association conducted the first measurement of product quality through the National Beef Quality Audit. Here's how the story unfolded:
The intent of the 1995 National Beef Quality audit was to measure quality defects manageable primarily through the efforts of cattle producers and to develop strategies to reduce the incidence of defects in the future. The Quality Starts Here program, the predecessor of the Verified Beef Production (VBP) and now VBP+ program, was as a result of that first national audit.
VBP began in 2003 to offer on-farm food safety training and audit services. VBP+, the next generation of the program, remains a voluntary program geared to compliment food safety programs in meat processing plants and at retail, to manage food safety risks across the food chain and provide assurance of sustainable production practices at the farm, ranch and feedlot level.
It is designed to be easy, practical and cost effective in helping beef producers provide proof of responsible practices for food safety and sustainable production. VBP+ helps a producer validate (prove) their commitment to responsible practices used on the ranch, farm or feedlot and demonstrate to buyers that food safety, animal care, biosecurity and environmental stewardship are crucial to the operation. VBP+ also helps identify corrective actions for the areas needing improvement on the operation.
When a beef cattle operation is considered a "certified VBP+" operation this means it has gone through a third party on-farm validation audit by a qualified auditor. The VBP+ on-farm validation auditors are qualified in beef production and skilled in reviewing practices and records, as well as trained in ISO-based auditing.
The VBP+ program requirements were built around the concept of proactive management regarding potential food safety hazards. The international food safety standard called “HACCP” (pronounced haa-sip), a scientific-based risk assessment model, was used to evaluate beef production practices for food safety risks with the help of producers, industry and government food safety experts. Through this process the VBP food safety Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were defined and sample records developed. Expertise in cattle production help ensure the SOPs remain practical, cost effective and credible. VBP+ certified operations say what they do, do what they say and have the proof to show for it!
In June 2016 VBP+ was officially launched. With beef customers asking about sustainable production practices the VBP program grew to include modules for animal care, biosecurity and environmental stewardship. VBP+ includes a full suite of resources and training designed to establish a common platform to help producers meet marketplace and societal expectations. Each of the three new modules were developed following a specific framework and development approach. Those steps include:
Now fully operational, the VBP+ program provides producers the opportunity to showcase their commitment to sound food safety, animal care, disease prevention and environmental stewardship. Consumers and retailers can trust that beef cattle raised on VBP+ certified operations meets their needs for beef cattle raised in a safe, humane, environmentally sound and sustainable manner.
For more in-depth information click on the following fact sheets, articles and video links below.
Rancher and Sask VBP+ Coordinator Coy Schellenberg explains the program: