Explaining the fuss about the Canadian Beef Sustainability Acceleration Pilot

Virgil Lowe, Business Manager, Verified Beef Production Plus

The Canadian Beef Sustainability Acceleration Pilot (CBSA) hopes to achieve in one year what many in the industry have been trying to accomplish for years – deliver a certified sustainable supply chain to foodservice and retail customers.

Led by Cargill, Verified Beef Production Plus (VBP+) and the Beef InfoXchange System, the CBSA aims to sate demand from foodservice and retail companies for gate to plate tracking that verifies the production practices used in raising an animal as sustainable. What’s more, foodservice companies and retailers are helping facilitate the development of a sustainable supply chain in Canada through providing financial incentives for qualifying cattle.

VBP+ plays an important role in the development of a sustainable supply chain. Eligibility for the CBSA requires that all the places an animal stays throughout their lifetime are VBP+ Registered and that they be processed in an audited packing plant (currently Cargill High River). VBP+, a training and on-farm verification program for Canadian beef producers developed and managed by the CCA, is delivered through various provincial beef organizations across the country.

McDonalds, Loblaws, Swiss Chalet, and Original Joe’s are among the foodservice and retailers that have come forward to provide financial incentives for qualifying cattle. This is significant in terms of timing because they are providing financial incentive before they can make claims back to their customers. In other words, McDonalds, Loblaws, Swiss Chalet, and Original Joe’s are so committed to supporting certified sustainable beef (a program that meets commercial Canadian beef industry standards, unlike most other “certified” programs) they are willing to support the development of supply chains to provide it before they can reap the benefits in their stores. Now it is up to us, as producers, to build those supply chains.

Our role in CBSA as beef producers is simple. Complete the VBP+ verification process (including the audit) to become Registered and then try to ensure you sell your calves (or buy calves if you are a backgrounder or feedlot operator) to other VBP+ Registered producers. To get Registered and have your cattle qualify simply:

  1. Be or become a VBP+ Registered Producer;
  2. Be or become a BIXS member;
  3. Age verify or move your cattle to the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA) database (either directly or through BIXS).

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out directly to me or contact your local VBP+ Provincial Coordinator. Stay tuned for updates.(Reprinted with permission from the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association)