Ag Promotion & Development
Beef Cattle Verification Programs
There are several options that beef producers can consider when looking at additional marketing options for their livestock and opportunities to add value.
Here is a summary of some of the options producers may want to consider:
Source and Age VerificationTo verify the source and age of your calves, 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 you are enrolled in a "verification program," which can verify that your records meet the requirements 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)
Non-Hormone Treated Cattle Program (NHTC)
The NHTC program is also a USDA approved, non-biased, third-party audit program which verifies the source and age of your cattle, but also verifies that your cattle have not received hormones at any stage of their life. NHTC cattle can be marketed for export to the European Union (EU), as the EU program requires non-hormone beef for import. Cattle in the NHTC program need to be source and age verified as well as NHTC verified, however, cattle sold into this export market can be 30 months of age and under. For more information click here.
There are many programs in the marketplace that require specific practices in order to label a product with marketing statements signifying that cattle are raised under "Natural" conditions. Many of these programs are packer specific or associated with a breed association or marketing group, and these are affidavit based programs. Many of these programs focus on the basis that cattle have never received hormones, antibiotics, or animal by-products; however, each program has its own specifications. Producers need to analyze the programs individually and determine which may best fit their production programs.
Never Ever 3 (NE3) Program
There are a few verification suppliers who do offer a USDA-approved, non-biased, third‑party audited natural program called (NE3) USDA guidelines for this program, requires that calves have never received hormones, antibiotics, or animal by-products.
This program is an extension of the USDA source and age verification program. It focuses on verifying that cattle were born or born and raised in Nebraska. Talk to your verification supplier about adding the "Nebraska Verified" claim to your documentation when you do your paperwork for source and age verification.
For more details on each of these marketing program options, take the time to view the webinar called "Marketing Options for Beef Producers," which reiterates the details of several marketing programs available to beef producers. Video Here
A current listing of "Verification Suppliers" who can assist beef producers with the requirements and steps to enroll in a marketing program is available (Here).
For more information about these programs or the listing of verification suppliers, contact Jordan Schlake, Livestock Promotion Coordinator, Nebraska Department of Agriculture, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-422-6692.
Additional LinksMain home page of USDA’s - ARC Branch. From this page, you will find direct links to all USDA Programs, including the QSA Program and PVP Program.
Link to Requesting Auditing Services, which includes USDA contact information, the application for service, and documents related to the payment process.
Link to Questions and Answers page.
Country of Origin Labeling
NDA recognizes that information on Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) can be confusing and time-consuming to research.
However, producers with already established, good recording keeping habits, probably have the basic structure in place to comply with the federally mandated COOL, and also may be open to a variety of voluntary marketing opportunities through age and source
verification. Take a look at the materials below. If NDA can be of assistance in helping sort through
this information, please e-mail us or call
COOL became effective on September 30, 2008. In Nebraska this federal law will have the most impact on our producers of beef, pork, and chicken. To help livestock producers understand how this law affects them, NDA, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, and Nebraska Cattlemen have teamed up to provide information on COOL.
Several resources are available through UNL's Department of Agricultural Economics web site. Click here to visit the site. It includes a link to two short video programs; one features Lloyd Day, administrator of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, discussing the basics of COOL, and the other features Day and a panel of Nebraska agriculture policy leaders covering what COOL means to Nebraska farmers and ranchers.
Producers should plan ahead to ensure that they are in compliance with COOL regulations and that proper documentation attesting to Country of Origin accompanies all animals. By keeping thorough records, maintaining normal business documents, and/or participating in animal identification programs, producers should have no problem proving the origin of their animals.
A few simple points for livestock producers to keep in mind for COOL compliance are: