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.