Self-scoring for success

Emma Cross

If you keep up with the VBP+ blog, you might have seen our previous blog post about the development of the VBP+ Producer Portal. In 2020, VBP+ changed their assessment to a system of scoring to be more aligned with the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, maintaining the VBP+ equivalency to the CRSB Sustainable Beef Production Standard and associated incentives. But just how do producers use this scoring system?

What is the new scoring system?

The scoring system is a series of questions that help assess whether an operation is meeting the requirements of the VBP+ standard. For a producer, these are the questions that your auditor would go through when they visit your operation for an audit.

Since these questions are new, producers who haven’t done an audit for a few years may not have experienced these questions in an on-farm audit yet. If you have questions about the scoring, please feel free to contact the renewals department at or call 587-328-5980 and choose one of the Renewals Coordinators in the phone directory.

Where does the scoring system appear?

In short, the new scoring system appears throughout the VBP+ standard. “The scoring is very reflective of what the current VBP+ standard looks like,” says Shannon Argent, VBP+ Business Manager.

The Producer Portal is where producers can now submit their renewals (records assessments and self-declarations) electronically. When completing a renewal, producers score themselves using the new system. “A record assessment or self-declaration assesses a portion of the questions you’d be ask at an audit,” says Shannon.

field-guide-coverThe same questions, scoring options, and scoring criteria now appear in all VBP+ producer resources, including the Producer Reference Manual, the VBP+ 2.0 Training on the Canadian Cattle Learning Center, and the Self-Assessment Field Guide.

If you want to explore what the new scoring system looks like, the Self-Assessment Field Guide shows you all of the questions and scoring criteria in a single document.

How does the scoring work?

Each question is defined as either a VBP+ Standard or VBP+ Required question.

VBP+ Standard questions are derived from other standards or industry recommendations, such as the Canadian On-Farm Beef Cattle Biosecurity Standard. These questions have a minimum score of 1 to meet the requirements of the VBP+ program.

VBP+ Required questions deal with critical control points where a record is required to ensure on-farm food safety. These questions have a minimum score of 2 to meet the requirements of the VBP+ program.

For each question, producers can score themselves as N/A, 0, 1, 2, or 3. While each question has individual criteria, the assessments are broadly based on the criteria in the table below.

Score Score Description
N/A This topic does not apply to my operation.

Note: Producers should not use N/A if the topic applies to their operation but they have not had an occurrence. For example, if a producer has a broken needle protocol with a system for record-keeping but has never had a broken needle, they should score themselves a 2, not an N/A. N/A is only intended for questions that are truly not relevant to an operation (ex. the medicated feed/water question on a cow/calf operation that does not use medicated feed or water). 

0 I am not aware of the topic and have no intention of implementing best practices on my operation.

This is a barrier to entry and a corrective action request will be issued.

1 I know about the topic and am learning more about it. I am working towards implementing best practices on my operation.

For a VBP+ Required question, a corrective action request will be issued for a score of 1.

2 I can verbally explain the process that my operation has in place for this topic, and I have a record to show that we are implementing the process.
3 I have a written protocol in place for this topic, and have records to demonstrate successful implementation of the process.

A corrective action request (CAR) is a request for a producer to alter something on their operation to meet the requirements of the VBP+ standard. Receiving a CAR at an audit or on a renewal doesn’t exclude an operation from certification, but rather gives them a timeline to complete the action to meet the standard.

“For the educational resources, there are no corrective actions issued for scoring yourself below the minimum score on the Canadian Cattle Learning Center modules or Self-Assessment Field Guide – the results are never recorded nor assessed,” explains Shannon. These are tools intended to help producers see the scoring before attempting an audit or renewal.

How do I decide which score applies to me?

scoring-example“Self-assessment isn’t easy,” says Shannon. “Producers are a lot harder on themselves than others. You aren’t going to get penalized for being honest. The scores are there to help you as an operation see what you might want to work on or dedicate more resources to.”

On the Producer Portal, producers can click the down arrow beside each question to view the scoring descriptors. Each question has a rubric with specific descriptions of what each score value means for that topic. In essence, each question has a tailored version of the table above to help producers interpret what the scores mean in the context of each question.

These “scoring translations” also appear throughout the VBP+ Producer Reference Manual, and in the Self-Assessment Field Guide.

How do I use the Producer Portal?

microsoftteams-image-18Three months before your certification anniversary date, the renewals department will send you an invite to the Producer Portal by email. Remember to use the same email that received the invite to sign into the Portal to make sure that you can see the form!

If you lose the link, you can find the Portal through our website or click here.

The portal has directions on how to complete a records assessment or self-declaration, including a list of what documents need to be attached. However, we understand that using a new system can be intimidating. We encourage you to contact us at or call 587-328-5980 and choose one of the Renewals Coordinators in the phone directory. Our Renewals Coordinators will happily walk you through completing the form over the phone, or they can ask you the right questions to fill out the form for you, or even send you a paper copy if you prefer.

What happens with the information about my scores?

VBP+ does not share the scores that producers assign to themselves at renewals, nor the scores assigned by an auditor on-farm, with any external party. The scoring system is not punitive and is only used to make sure that operations are meeting the requirements of the VBP+ standard. VBP+ may use an aggregate of all producers’ scores in a particular area to see what areas matter to producers most, for promotion of program accomplishments, or for stakeholders who are supporting sustainability initiatives, but these scores are never tied to an individual operation.


Preparing to ship safely during the fall run

Emma Cross

Originally printed in the September 2022 issue of Canadian Cattlemen

The fall run is not just a busy time of year for auction marts. For cow-calf and feedlot producers, fall is a mad dash of buying and selling. At times like this, it becomes hard to remember some key points related to food safety and animal care that become relevant when shipping calves or other cattle. Luckily, this problem can be easily solved with the help of a shipping record.

The VBP+ Shipping Record template is a single checklist that producers can go through when preparing a load of cattle for shipment. By filling out the document completely, producers can rest assured that they have done their part in ensuring high-quality animal care and food safety. Transportation and entry into the food chain are the points where consumers who are not connected to agriculture have the greatest chance to observe what producers do. So, it is important to make sure that what the public sees is Canadian beef producers’ commitment to these principles.

The top of the shipping record includes three important pieces of information. The year helps producers keep shipping records organized over time. Since the document has several rows, most producers can use only one or two of these sheets per year by recording all of their loads on one document. The premise ID is important for traceability purposes. In the event that an issue is discovered with an animal later on in the food chain, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency can use this record to trace the issue back to the premises of origin and prevent further hazards from entering the food chain. Finally, while the ranch/producer name might seem obvious to the recorder, this identification helps make this document useful proof of attention to the checks included in the record.

The next three columns help the producer associate the checks contained in the record with specific animals from their herd. The type of cattle column allows the producer to indicate the general class of cattle being shipped. This column is useful for quick reference when looking back on the record. For example, writing “weaned calves” in this column would help the producer remember that they had completed the shipping record when shipping their calves in the fall after weaning.

Similarly, the cattle identification column lets a producer narrow down which cattle they are referring to in the record. This specificity is important because it ensures that the three important checks in the last columns of the record are actually associated with the cattle being shipped. This identification can apply to single animals in the case of small loads or refer to groups of cattle using the producer’s own identification systems. The number of head allows for verification that the number of cattle that end up on the truck matches the number of cattle which were confirmed for safe shipment using the shipping record.

Recording the destination and trucker further aids in traceability in case an issue arises down the line. This column adds another pin on the map of where cattle move in their lifetime, helping officials track down the source of a problem should one come up. The trucker information is important for this same reason, as well as to have a record of the verification of a safe shipment before transferring care of the livestock from producer to trucker.

The final three columns are the “meat and potatoes” of the shipping record. These columns provide proof that a producer has done their due diligence in three key areas of responsible production. Firstly, indicating withdrawal check completed with a check mark shows that the producer has reviewed other records to confirm that the cattle in the shipment are not in a withdrawal period for an animal health product. While checking treatment records for the animals in the shipment is an obvious step, it is also important to think of other records linked to withdrawals, such as documentation of herbicide or pesticide usage. If animals grazed on pasture with a particular chemical, they may be subject to withdrawal for this reason as well. For cow-calf producers, it is important to note that animals may be shipped to a feedlot while still on withdrawal provided that their withdrawal information is sent to the feedlot operator along with them. This step will allow the feedlot operator to assume responsibility for ensuring that residues will not end up in carcasses.

The broken needle record check column is similar to the previous column in that it directs the producer to refer to a different document. The producer checks this box to indicate that they have reviewed records of broken needle occurrences on farm and confirmed that none of the animals in the shipment were involved in a broken needle incident. If cattle have broken needles, they should be retained for own consumption and the processor can be made aware of the location of the broken needle.

The final column verifies the fit for transport evaluation. This section requires the producer to observe the cattle in the shipment to verify that each individual can be safely transported without risk to animal welfare. In short, an animal is fit for transport if it can be expected to arrive at its destination in good condition. Lameness, injuries, and disease are all factors that can classify animals as either compromised, requiring transport with special provisions, or unfit for transport. Animals that are unfit for transport cannot be transported unless for veterinary diagnosis or care. The National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle contains a decision tree to help producers distinguish between these classes. This resource is also available within the Vulnerable, Distressed, and High-Risk Cattle section of the VBP+ Producer Reference Manual, available at

Shipping records are one of the key critical control points for producers to attend to in protecting food safety and animal care standards. This sample record, as well as a blank template for producer use, can be found under the Producer Resources tab of

Developing the VBP+ producer portal

Emma Cross

Part of the power of the Verified Beef Production Plus (VBP+) program is the simplicity and efficiency of the audit cycle. Combining the on-farm audit, records assessments and self-declarations throughout the five-year audit cycle offers producers the flexibility of participation without a yearly on-farm assessment. At the same time, this system provides assurance that best practices and processes are being maintained on VBP+ certified operations throughout the five-year cycle.  

In 2020, VBP+ adjusted our standard to be more fully equivalent with the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) Beef Production indicators. Throughout this process, VBP+ continued our alignment with the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) Animal Care Assessment Framework and more completely integrated the National Beef Biosecurity Standard, while maintaining our commitment to meeting On-Farm Food Safety standards. Part of the adjustment to more robust equivalency with CRSB was a shift to a scoring system for each question associated with an audit or annual assessment. Obtaining a score for each question in the standard not only captures the continuous improvement realized on beef operations in Canada, but also aligns with the CRSB scoring system, enabling better reporting on metrics important to stakeholders and members of the CRSB.  

This system, along with the introduction of the VBP+ electronic audit tool has been utilized in all VBP+ certifications since 2020, but to maintain consistency for existing certified operations, our records assessments and self-declarations were still based on the previous standard. Not anymore! In July of 2023, VBP+ rolled out Phase 2. This phase consists of a re-designed records assessment and self-declaration as well as a producer portal to make it easier for producers to submit their renewals.  

What’s different is that the questions asked on a records assessment are now a reflection of the new VBP+ standard and include a self-scoring component. We will get more in-depth on how producers can score themselves in a future article, but in a nutshell, producers are asked to score the question as they themselves see the practices they implement on their operations. There is an information button beside each of the questions to guide the producer, as well as buttons to attach documentation for resolution of Critical Control Point (CCP) questions.  The form, as well as the portal itself, also include helpful resource materials and contacts producers can call or email to help guide them through the new process, as well as mechanisms to provide feedback to VBP+. 

Planning of the next phase of the rollout is underway and is expected to include a producer key performance indicator (KPI) report, similar to the KPI report sent to producers upon the completion of an on-farm audit that can provide feedback to producers in all areas of the standard.  

VBP+, as a program, continually strives to deliver its education and certification activities in the most efficient way possible for the producers it represents as well as meet the goals and expectations of end-users and stakeholders.  

New resources available for producers seeking certification

Emma Cross

VBP+ has been working on some new resources to help make it easier for producers to prepare for certification. The Self-Assessment Field Guide and two new online courses guide a producer though the VBP+ audit criteria to help ensure success.

self-assessment-field-guide-coverThe Self-Assessment Field Guide is a document that is intended to be taken out onto an operation to help a producer understand how they are performing in the areas of assessment for an audit. The guide lists each area assessed during an audit, with the scoring descriptors for each topic.

The minimum score is highlighted on each question as either a VBP+ Standard or VBP+ Required item. VBP+ Standard items have a minimum score of 1, requiring an understanding and awareness of the area. VBP+ Required questions have a minimum score of 2 and are considered Critical Control Points, meaning records will be requested.

In each scoring table, there is a blank column for a producer to check off their own assessment of how they are performing. Once the producer has gone through the guide, they can review their responses and decide where they might need to make changes or review the VBP+ 2.0 training before scheduling an audit.

The Self-Assessment Field Guide is available on our website on the Producer Reference Manual page. Click here for a PDF version.

Going hand in hand with the field guide, VBP+ has created an online Pre-Certification Self-Assessment course through the Canadian Cattle Learning Center. This course offers the same list of required areas and their corresponding scoring, but in a convenient online format that delivers a producer with a summary of their results.

Finally, the VBP+ Certification Process online course is a quick online module on the Canadian Cattle Learning Center that goes over all the steps that a producer must go through to get certified. This is a great resource for producers who are still considering the program and want to know what they are signing up for, or for producers who have started the process and need direction for next steps.

cclc-dashboard-screenshotBoth the Pre-Certification Self-Assessment and the Certification Process courses, as well as other VPB+ training material, can be accessed by creating a free account in the Canadian Cattle Learning Center. From the Dashboard, scroll down to Featured Courses to find the Pre-Certification Self-Assessment. These two courses are offered at no cost.  

All of these resources will be available in French. For more VBP+ resources, explore our website and stay tuned to the VBP+ blog and social media!

Apply for the FCC Sustainability Incentive Program

Emma Cross

Last year, Farm Credit Canada (FCC) launched an initiative to recognize the efforts of producers certified with the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB).  On May 2, 2023, applications for the program will reopen!

fccFCC will provide a payment to FCC customers who are CRSB certified through one of the CRSB’s certification bodies, including VBP+. So, VBP+ certified producers can take advantage of this opportunity.

“FCC is happy to be reopening applications for our sustainability programs. We are in a unique position to work with individual sectors in the agriculture and food industry on their sustainability goals,” explains Curtis Grainger, FCC’s director of sustainability programs. “The progress we’re seeing looks different depending on the sector and on an individual’s operation. That’s why the established, verified initiatives at CRSB and McCain Foods are important partnerships that allow us to support producers with their individual needs.”

Producers can receive up to $2,000, calculated as a portion of your lending with FCC, excluding operating credit. Producers can reapply annually.

“VBP+ appreciates FCC’s investment in certified producers through their Sustainability Incentive Program,” says Shannon Argent, VBP+ Business Manager. “Financially incentivizing producers who take the time and effort to participate in certification shows the commitment shared by both producers and stakeholders to advancing sustainability in the Canadian beef industry.”

If you are already certified, you can apply through the FCC page here. You will need to provide the following:

  • Contact information
  • FCC customer number
  • Certification body used (i.e. VBP+ if you are certified with us)
  • Copy of certificate

Note that you must be an FCC customer in good standing with an amount owing on current lending, and your CRSB certification must be current.

If you aren’t yet certified but want to join the program to be eligible, contact your VBP+ provincial coordinator using the info here to learn more. The provincial coordinator can set you up with an in-person training session or direct you to our online Canadian Cattle Learning Center to get started.

After training and pre-audit prep with a coordinator, contact VBP+ Delivery Services Inc. (the certification branch of VBP+). Find contact info here.

For an overview of the certification process and five-year audit cycle, click here.

Certification Recognition Credit: How Cargill is recognizing the efforts of VBP+ certified producers

Emma Cross

Cargill and the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) have announced a pilot project offering up to $400 for producers maintaining CRSB certification from 2022 into 2023. Since VBP+ is a delivery agent for CRSB, VBP+ certified operations who agree to information sharing and provide their Canadian Livestock Tracking System (CLTS) information are automatically included in this program. If you have any questions about your opt-out status, please contact VBP+.

The intent of the Certification Recognition Credit program is to recognize producers who have made the investment of time and money to become certified with CRSB (VBP+ audited) but have not received at least $400 in credits for qualifying cattle processed at Cargill in 2022. For example, a producer who only received $60 in credit payments in 2022 would receive a payment of $340 under the new Certification Recognition Credit.

VBP+ is pleased that stakeholders have listened to concerns from certified producers and have taken steps to make sure that incentivization recognizes all producers investing in certification. It was supporting data from VBP+ producers around uneven incentivization that was integral to the creation of this program. We thank our VBP+ producers for remaining committed to certification and are pleased with this initiative from stakeholders!

“With this funding, we want to recognize the commitment of Canadian producers in ensuring the viability of this program and making Canadian beef even more sustainable,” said Jeffrey Fitzpatrick, Sustainability Program Lead, Cargill. “Only in supporting programs like the CRSB Certified Sustainable Beef Framework will we be able to more accurately create and sustain the highest standard of sustainability practices across the Canadian beef supply chain.”

This quote is from the CRSB press release on this program. Read the full release here.

Here is how the program will work according to different producer scenarios:

Financial Credits Received for Qualifying Cattle in 2022 Payment through Certification Recognition Credit
Producer received $0 in financial credits for qualifying cattle in 2022 Producer will receive $400
Producer received less than $400 in financial credits for qualifying cattle in 2022 Producer will receive a “top up” payment for the difference between their credit payments and $400 (for example, if you received $60 in 2022, you will receive $360)
Producer received $400 or more in financial credits for qualifying cattle in 2022 Producer will receive $0

Frequently Asked Questions

*Please note: Producers

When can I expect my payment?

March 2023

Do I need to apply for the credit?

There is no need to apply or take any extra steps to ensure you receive this credit. Cargill will work with CCIA, VBP+, OCFB and PBQ to verify eligibility and determine amounts, then distribute these rewards via the same channels as the Qualifying Cattle Credit. 

Do I have to have at least one animal processed at Cargill to be eligible? 

You do not need to have a minimum of animals processed at Cargill in order to be eligible. This Recognition Credit was established to recognize the upfront investment that many Canadian producers have made to become CRSB Certified, even when they aren’t guaranteed a clear, financial payback for that effort at this time. 

Cargill realizes producers do not always have full control over where their cattle are ultimately processed, and while the existing Qualifying Cattle Credit payment rewards producers whose qualifying cattle supply Cargill directly, this new Recognition Credit distinctly rewards the upfront investment instead. 

Is this an annual program? 

Cargill, the CRSB, and partners are committed to long-term recognition for operations who maintain their CRSB Certified status. This pilot will help inform what that future state could look like. The incentive may be structured differently in the future but, in principle, this recognition will remain in place in future years. 

Cargill will continue to thank producers for directly supplying Cargill with qualifying cattle via the Qualifying Cattle Credit. In fact, this credit payment will shift from quarterly to monthly in early 2023 based on the status of cattle processed the prior month. The pilot Recognition Credit is incremental to the ongoing financial recognition within our implementation of the program. 

Who do I contact for further questions about the program? 

For questions about the CRSB Certified Sustainable Beef Framework or this pilot Recognition Credit, contact Dayna Cameron at CRSB. 

For questions about Cargill’s existing Qualifying Cattle Credit payments, contact Emily Murray at Cargill or Jenn Taplin at CCIA (or J-S Roy at PBQ). 

For questions about getting or maintaining your CRSB Certification status, contact a representative of VBP+ with the information listed here. 

Value added: How VBP+ is using data to drive benefits back to the producer

Emma Cross

Getting involved with certification programs and supply chains takes commitment from beef producers. The time, effort, and money required do not go unnoticed, and Verified Beef Production Plus (VBP+) is committed to advocating for producers to receive value back in return for their investment.

Producers can get involved with the VBP+ program in two ways. Getting trained allows producers to stay up to date on best management practices supported by current research, Canadian regulations, and modern experience from efficient and profitable ranches. For those seeking further involvement in the program, certification follows naturally.

To get certified with VBP+, producers gather six months of production records and make changes on their operation to match the requirements of the VBP+ Standard. A provincial coordinator will go through a pre-audit preparation process with each producer to ensure successful certification. Then, a third-party auditor, who is often a producer themselves, will come out to visit the farm to verify that required practices from the VBP+ standard are being implemented. Producers will not fail an audit if they do not meet all requirements. Instead, a corrective action request will be issued with a timeline for change to be made, encouraging continuous improvement.

Once a producer has successfully completed their audit, they are responsible for maintaining the management and record-keeping requirements of the VBP+ program. Each year, the operation must complete a renewal event to demonstrate continued adherence to the VBP+ Standard. In years two and four of the five-year audit cycle, producers submit records to be assessed according to the requirements of the program. In years three and five, producers self-declare that they are maintaining the Standard on their operation.

For many producers, getting involved in VBP+ training or certification has inherent benefits. Changing management practices often increases efficiency and can aid your bottom line. For example, making sure that animal health products like vaccines and antibiotics are delivered effectively can reduce time and money spent on treating sick cattle. Many VBP+ producers also report that record-keeping indirectly increases efficiency on their operation by keeping track of management decisions so that they can be changed in the future to optimize efficiency and profitability.

However, VBP+ training and certification clearly require a time commitment from the producer. Making changes on an operation, keeping records, and completing administrative work to maintain certification all require time – something that beef producers are short on. As well, training and certification both involve a financial commitment from the producer. Like time, money is not something that most beef producers can easily offer.

VBP+ recognizes the investment that producers make into the program and sees the benefits that producer participation offers to public trust and sustainable beef supply chains. Therefore, it is a major goal of VBP+ to seek tangible value that can be offered back to producers for their investments.

A major avenue that allows VBP+ to seek out producer benefits is transformation of producer efforts into data. To producers, the database of certified operations may seem like nothing more than a list. But to sustainable beef supply chains, this information is a lifeline.

In order to make label claims about sustainable beef, sellers need to construct a verifiable chain of custody that tracks animal movements from farm to farm. The data regarding which beef operations are certified and when their certification is active is integral to making this chain of custody viable.

Without producer participation in certification programs, sustainable beef supply chains could not exist. VBP+ leverages producer data to access these supply chains, and in many cases, secure value for primary producers.

For example, in 2017, Cargill piloted a project with the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) and other partners, including VBP+, to validate a certified sustainable supply chain and allow product to be sold with the certified sustainable label claim.  Cattle that made their way through the supply chain entirely on CRSB certified operations can produce beef that is eligible for this program. In return for being certified, retailers, through Cargill, provides an incentive per head back to each producer involved in the life cycle of the animal. Since VBP+ is a delivery agent for CRSB, producers certified with VBP+ are automatically certified with CRSB and can receive payments through this program.

Other stakeholders see value in producer certification even without being directly involved in the beef supply chain. Last year, Farm Credit Canada started offering the Sustainability Incentive Program, delivering a payment to clients certified with CRSB.

Programs like these are examples of stakeholders recognizing the investment required from a producer to be involved in programs like VBP+. These programs all require data from VBP+ for verification. By leveraging the value of producer data, VBP+ can secure tangible benefits for producers.

This opportunity is not limited to certification. In the past, provincial governments (such as the Government of Alberta) have offered incentives to producers trained with VBP+ in the form of funding to purchase new farm equipment related to the program. For example, until March 15, 2022, in Saskatchewan, VBP+ trained producers can apply to receive up to $2,500 to cover 50% of costs for equipment such as new cattle handling systems, calving cameras, or vaccine coolers. Certified producers can apply for up to $15,000. This program also requires VBP+ producer data to verify eligibility.

Value arising from the VBP+ program can come in many different forms, but the universal factor tying producer incentive programs together is the value of VBP+ producer data. Without producer participation and investment, beef sellers could not make label claims and financial institutions could not show commitment to encouraging sustainable production.

Stakeholders need producers, and VBP+ transforms the hard work of producers into a usable tool for partners. Using this tool to leverage incentives for producers is key to ensuring that producers maintain participation in the program, and to expanding buy-in moving forward.

Navigating change: Keeping VBP+ up to date on changes to your operation

Emma Cross

Change is inevitable. But when beef operations make big adjustments, management changes as well. Keeping VBP+ up to date on your operation is key to staying current with the program.

While an audit is a great assessment of an operation, it can only capture a snapshot of the operation in time. Record assessments and self-declarations provide regular points for VBP+ to check in with producers and see what has changed, making sure everything is still on the right track.

It is important to remember that the VBP+ is a five-year audit cycle. The on-farm audit is an important first assessment, but the records assessments and self-declarations are in themselves annual assessments as well as important points to update information. Five years is a long time, it is very possible producers are making operational decisions that make sense during those five years.

Sometimes beef producers make big changes that have equally big impacts on management practices. VBP+ needs your help to know when those changes are made so we can continue to help you be as efficient, accurate, and sustainable as you can be.

One of the biggest changes an operation can make is adding or removing enterprises. As producers know, managing a cow-calf operation is drastically different than a feedlot. Deciding to background or finish your own calves adds additional complexity to your operation, particularly the aspects of management that are highlighted in the VBP+ standard.

Changing enterprises also means changing audit level. The table below outlines the three types of audit that VBP+ offers, which are defined by the production phases that the operation is involved in.

The three audit levels defined by VBP+ differ by production phase, affecting price
The three audit levels defined by VBP+ differ by production phase, affecting price

With more production phases involved in an operation, more time is required by auditors and staff to review records, management practices, and documentation. Therefore, the annual cost of an audit is higher for a more complex audit level. However, by offering a combined audit at a slightly higher cost, the producer does not have to perform the same paperwork, audit, and other tasks for each enterprise they are involved in.

An ideal time to inform the renewals team of a change is when submitting the annual information update. However, if a major change is occurring outside the time frame of your annual renewal event, notifying the VBP+ renewals team as early as possible is the best practice. Ideally, a producer will reach out before a change actually occurs. Advance notice will let the VBP+ team reflect these changes to both maximize potential qualification and minimize disruption to any incentive programming as soon as possible. For renewals team contact information, go to the Contact Us page on our website and scroll down to VBP+ Delivery Services Inc.

Whether informing the renewals team of a change before or after it occurs, producers should provide a brief summary of what the change is. Key details could include major changes in the number of head managed, added or removed enterprises, and additional facilities. After this initial conversation, the renewals team will send the producer an operation change form to gather more details that will inform the next steps.

The required actions following a major change on a certified operation are handled on a case-by-case basis. For example, a producer deciding to finish their own calves using the same facilities and staff will require different actions than a producer purchasing a new facility, designing a new management system, and hiring new staff to finish their own calves. Follow-up actions can range from an enhanced record assessment, a trigger of an on-farm audit, and a brand-new certification starting a new five-year audit cycle.

Above all, VBP+ wants to help producers take advantage of the benefits to certification. Keeping the renewals team up to date on major changes to your operation will ensure that they can keep you accurate and current on your certification status, maintaining your access to program benefits.

Producer part in prevention: Helping mitigate FMD in Canada

Emma Cross

By now, you’ve likely heard of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), a disease known for being extremely contagious and extremely severe. In the news right now, FMD strikes panic in the Canadian beef industry. That’s why it’s key that each and every one of us does our part to prevent the introduction of FMD into our Canadian cattle herd.

Fast Facts About FMD

  • Occurs in livestock and wildlife with cloven hooves – cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, bison, elk, deer, wild boars, etc.
  • Many animals recover, but are left in a weak state
  • Found in 77% of the global livestock population – Africa, Middle East, Asia, and some parts of South America
  • Spread by contact with bodily fluids from affected animals, contaminated animal products, food, feed, equipment, clothing, footwear, or hands
  • Can be spread long distances by the airborne virus
  • Humans can carry the virus for up to 36 hours in the throat
  • There is no treatment

Source: Foot and mouth disease |

Signs of FMD in Cattle

  • Sores and then blisters/ulcers on feet, nose, mouth, udder, scrotum
  • Excessive saliva and drooling
  • Lack of desire to move
  • Fever
  • Low appetite
  • Reduced milk yield
  • Loss of body condition
  • Occasional abortions

Source: Foot and mouth disease |

What to Do If You Suspect a Case of FMD

FMD is a reportable disease and must be reported to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Whether a case is suspected or confirmed, report it to the chief veterinary office in your province within 24 hours.

Source: Foot and mouth disease |

Tips for Travellers

  • Declare all meat and other animal products brought into Canada (includes semen, embryos, and hides)
  • If coming from a country with FMD, avoid farms, parks, zoos, feed mills, equipment, and livestock for 14 days
  • If you must come into contact with an above area:
    • Clean and disinfect footwear, or ideally, dispose of footwear worn abroad
    • Dry clean clothing worn abroad
    • Thoroughly shower and clean under fingernails
    • Disinfect all personal belongings
    • Follow all biosecurity procedures at the facility
  • If you live on a farm, avoid going home for 36 hours by staying at an alternative residence where someone can bring you clean clothing and footwear to wear home

Source: Foot and mouth disease |

What Happens If FMD Reaches Canada

If FMD was identified in Canada, the CFIA would identify exposed premises, cull exposed and high-risk potentially exposed livestock, and decontaminate the environment. Disposal would occur by incineration or burial.

The Canadian beef industry is continually advocating for the development of an FMD vaccine bank. However, routine FMD vaccination is not allowed in Canada for several reasons. Primarily, routine blood tests cannot distinguish vaccinated animals from infected ones, making vaccinated livestock ineligible for export with Canada’s trading partners. If Canada did widely vaccinate, we would lose “FMD-free without vaccination” status. Many of Canada’s trading partners, including the US, restrict imports from countries that vaccinate for FMD, even for animals that are proven to not carry the virus.

However, if prevention and disease control fail, Canada may vaccinate for FMD to reduce widespread culling. To regain “FMD-free without vaccination” status, Canada would have to wait 3 months after the last case, or in the case of vaccination, 3 months after the slaughter of the last vaccinated animal.

If widespread culling occurs, producers will be compensated for the market value of their lost animals.

Source: Questions and Answers – Response to Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) – Canadian Food Inspection Agency (

Tips for Preventing FMD Introduction to Your Farm

  • Prevent visitors from accessing your livestock
  • Prevent livestock contact with wildlife
  • Regularly disinfect footwear, clothing, and equipment
  • Keep records of people, livestock, feed, supplies, and equipment moving on and off your farm
  • Keep new animals separate for an initial quarantine period (at least 5 days)

Source: Questions and Answers – Response to Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) – Canadian Food Inspection Agency (

More Information

To learn more about FMD and biosecurity preparedness, check out the following resources.

VBP+ Producer Reference Manual – Vulnerable, Distressed & High-Risk Cattle, Biosecurity and Emergency Response Plan modules in particular

VBP+ Training 2.0 on the Canadian Cattle Learning Center

TEAM feeder cattle sale featuring VBP+ Certified operations

Emma Cross

TEAM is hosting a feeder cattle sale featuring cattle from operations with CRSB Certified Sustainable status through VBP+. The sale will start at 9:00am MDT on Friday, September 23rd and will offer both calves and yearlings.

Contact Jason Danard with TEAM to ask further questions or book your cattle into the sale.

Find the sale info here. If you are interested in buying, be sure to check out the details on sale lots and get approved to bid before sale day!