The story of the VBP+ program actually starts 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 began:
The intent of the 1995 National Beef Quality audit was to measure quality defects that could be managed primarily through the efforts of cattle producers and to develop strategies to reduce the incidence of defects in the future. In fact the program, Quality Starts Here, the predecessor of the Verified Beef Production (VBP) and now VBP+ program, was as a result of that first national audit.
The VBP+ program evolved from the original Quality Starts Here program focusing on food safety related practices. It began in 2003 and has continued to offer on-farm food safety training and audit services. VBP+ 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, but also to provide assurance of sustainable production practices at the farm, ranch and feedlot level.
It is designed to be easy, practical and cost effective when it comes to helping beef producers provide proof of responsible practices for food safety and sustainable production. VBP+ helps a producer validate (provide proof) of the responsible practices used on the ranch, farm or feedlot and demonstrates to buyers that food safety, animal care, biosecurity and environmental stewardship are a daily commitment on the operation. And identify corrective actions for the areas needing improvement.
When a beef operation is considered a "Registered VBP+" operation it 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 have been 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 SOPs were defined and sample records developed. Expertise in cattle production helped ensure the SOPs remain practical, cost effective and credible. VBP+ Registered say what they do, do what they say and have the proof to show for it!
In June 2016 Canadian beef producers took the next steps to enhance the VBP program and provide a means to address practices beyond food safety. With customers asking about sustainable production practices the VBP program grew to include modules for animal care, biosecurity and environmental stewardship. This was officially launched as the VBP+ program. This expansion of resources includes a full suite of resources and training designed to establish a common platform meant 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 with 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+ Registered 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: