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.