Building value and trust: The value of VBP+ certification

Two cowboys and there dog working with a large herd of cattle
Emma Cross

For beef producers, time is money. From the cow-calf sector to the feedlot, producers don’t have time to spare on things that don’t offer practical benefit. Fortunately, VBP+ certification provides those benefits, beginning with dollars and cents.

At first glance, VBP+ certification may seem daunting. Certified producers have to keep detailed records and spend time aligning their management practices with program requirements. However, many of the required practices can actually improve profitability.

With some practices, the return on investment is easy to see. For example, meeting the nutritional requirements of your cattle is integral to achieving the peak performance that gets you more pounds, and in turn, more dollars to your deposits.

For other requirements, the economic value might be buried a little deeper. Take the treatment record as an example. To some, taking the time to write down details regarding individual and group treatments may seem like a cost. However, knowing when and how you treated an animal can help you monitor its response to treatment and adjust your next steps accordingly, preventing you from wasting expensive veterinary products and helping you get that animal back to better performance sooner. This means saving on costs and avoiding further losses to income.

VBP+ certification can also add dollars to your bottom line on the revenue side. With the right marketing, the VBP+ certified stamp allows you the opportunity to access a premium on cattle sold to suppliers specifically looking to source cattle from VBP+ operations, or other similar programs. On October 7, Walmart Canada committed to purchasing 1.5 million pounds of beef sourced from operations certified under the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB). Since VBP+ is a certification body for CRSB, VBP+ certified operations get access to price premiums under this stream that they would forego without certification. As more operations get certified, this opportunity will only continue to grow.

A template of a certification card to accompany your cattle listed under the VBP+ program. Print your own here.
A template of a certification card to accompany your cattle listed under the VBP+ program. Print your own here.

Furthermore, several grants are available to producers implementing best management practices to receive funding back on new infrastructure that can make your operation more efficient and better suited to meeting program requirements. At the end of the day, investing the time, and sometimes money, to meet VBP+ certification requirements can mean more cash in your jeans when all is said and done.

While the bottom line tends to underscore all producer decisions, there’s value to VBP+ certification that can’t be counted. Over recent years, we’ve seen increased public criticism of animal agriculture. Social media and news outlets are channels for messaging that paints a dim picture of animal care and environmental responsibility. While producers might know that their practices don’t fit the dialogue circulating amongst consumers, sometimes the voice of agriculture isn’t loud enough to overcome it. Luckily, VBP+ certification can serve as our megaphone.

VBP+ certification is a concrete stamp showing stakeholders both within and outside of the beef industry that your operation upholds standards in areas that the public prioritizes, like animal care, food quality and safety, and environmental stewardship. A contracted third-party auditor visits your operation and validates the required practices you employ on your operation. Many of these requirements are things that most producers already do on-farm, but getting certified helps you prove your commitment to key program values in an unbiased way.

For producers that direct-market beef, VBP+ certification is an objective stamp of approval that consumers can look for when choosing a product. As with selling cattle under the VBP+ program, this can offer price premiums to enhance producer profit. Later in the supply chain, feedlots and processors have started to look for more cattle to fill the demand from retailers for sustainable beef that matches consumer desires. Increasing rates of certification across the Canadian beef industry will help spread the message of producer commitment to values shared by consumers. In turn, enhanced social support for our industry will foster longevity for beef demand.

From the ground level, VBP+ certification can be a way to put more dollars in your pocket. In the big picture, certified producers contribute to securing broad consumer demand for beef, maintaining the strength of our industry into the future.

To learn more about the certification cycle, click here.

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