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.

It pays to be sustainable: FCC announces Sustainability Incentive Program

Emma Cross

Farm Credit Canada (FCC) is working with innovative producers to grow a more sustainable industry. FCC recognizes that sustainability is important to the future of agriculture, and wants to encourage an increase in the number of certified producers. To do so, FCC has opened their Sustainability Incentive Program to eligible customers who are certified through the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB).


FCC 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.

The payment from FCC will be calculated as a portion of their lending with FCC, with a maximum of $2,000 paid per year. Eligible producers can reapply for the incentive payment annually.

Already Certified?

Customers who are already CRSB certified can apply for the program here.

Want to Participate but Aren’t Certified Yet?

The first step to getting certified is being trained. Contact the provincial VBP+ coordinator for your province using the info found here to learn about in-person and online training opportunities. Your provincial coordinator will also guide you through the process of preparing for an audit to get certified.

Once you are trained and are ready to get ready for certification, the next step is contacting 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.

Looking for More Information?

To learn more about the program, click here.

Questions about FCC Sustainability Incentive Program should be directed to:

Jill McAlister, Corporate Communication, Farm Credit Canada

306-540-4840 |

Building value and trust: The value of VBP+ certification

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.

A little learning goes a long way: The value in VBP+ training

Emma Cross

While certification is an important way that VBP+ contributes to helping beef producers improve their practices and enhance public trust, training is not just a first step towards the goal of an audit. Instead, training itself holds value for both the producer and the broader industry.

In the beef industry and beyond, knowledge is not static. As beef producers, our practices are constantly changing to keep up with new technology, changing regulations, emerging research, and consumer expectations. While there are plenty of resources out there to keep up to speed, training is one of the best ways to access up to date information across a variety of topics in a format targeted towards producers.

At home, most of our information comes from articles, social media posts, and other quick reference material. While these are convenient and useful to stay informed about the beef industry, they usually only cover one topic and can’t achieve the level of detail that a producer needs to implement new practices. In contrast, in VBP+ training, attendees learn about each of the VBP+ modules, covering everything from animal management practices to demonstrating community leadership.

Fortunately, VBP+ training is convenient and voluntary. Producers can access online modules or attend in-person sessions or webinars delivered by provincial coordinators. As a result, trainees benefit from being able to ask questions directly to VBP+ coordinators and can access them as resources to discuss regionally specific topics. Therefore, producers leave training with the best opportunity for continuous improvement on their own operation.

Training also contributes to securing social support for the industry. In the United States, the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program offers several training courses for producers across different industry sectors. Much like VBP+, producers can be trained in the modules required for BQA certification from the comfort of home. Additionally, producers can learn more with other courses like the hands-on Stockmanship and Stewardship workshop or the online Biosecurity advanced education module. BQA also has Transportation courses for both producers and professional drivers. This training has helped enhance and maintain strong beef demand in the US by demonstrating to consumers that producers are using responsible practices on-farm.

In Canada, VBP+ training helps serve the same purpose. For producers that direct market beef to consumers, communicating a VBP+ trained status assures clients of knowledge and commitment to using responsible practices. However, even for producers that never speak directly to the consumers that eat beef originating from their operation, VBP+ training contributes to a positive dialogue surrounding the beef industry across the country.

In a survey conducted by Loft 32 for VBP+ amongst retailers, food service leaders, processors, and amplifiers, one restaurant leader stated, “The need for training is critical and will continue to grow. It’s in our company mandate to foster and share best practices, and we expect the same from our supply chain partners.” Increasing rates of training amongst beef producers will provide industry advocates with data to show policymakers and food industry stakeholders tangible evidence of industry commitment to issues that they prioritize. That is, for the beef industry to stay relevant and strong in an agri-food context, training is key.

Public trust in animal agriculture has been damaged by messaging circulating on social media and through news outlets. If training rates across the country increase, this messaging can change to recognize the commitment of Canadian beef producers to consumer priorities like animal care and environmental stewardship.

In 2021, the Canadian Beef Advisors finished its release of seven national industry goals targeted for achievement by 2030. These goals build upon five-year objectives set out in the 2020-2024 National Beef Strategy, and cover the following topics:

  1. Greenhouse gas and carbon sequestration
  2. Land use and biodiversity
  3. Water and soil quality
  4. Animal health and care
  5. People health and safety
  6. Beef quality and food safety
  7. Technology and innovation

Notably, these focus areas overlap substantially with several VBP+ training modules. As a result, producers can become better equipped to support industry progress towards the 2030 Canadian Beef Industry Goals by participating in VBP+ training to support continuous improvement on-farm.

A visual overview of the 2030 Canadian Beef Industry Goals
A visual overview of the 2030 Canadian Beef Industry Goals

For example, producers that become VBP+ trained are contributing to positive consumer dialogue around the quality and sustainability of Canadian beef. This effort directly contributes to establishing “the inherent quality and value of Canadian beef in domestic and export markets”, which is one of the specific objectives outlined under the beef quality and food safety topic area.

In general, training contributes to the continuous improvement of beef operations, offering value to individual producers as they enhance the productivity and longevity of their own operations. On a broader scale, widespread training enhances public messaging about animal agriculture, generating a supportive consumer base to keep the beef industry going long into the future.

Learn more about VBP+ training here.

Exchanging value from east to west: Marketing in sustainable beef supply chains

Emma Cross

One of the benefits of becoming VBP+ certified is the opportunity to market cattle into supply chains sourcing from operations audited for sustainable practices. In return for the opportunity to label their products with this stamp of approval, processors and retailers may offer producers a price premium on their cattle. Furthermore, certified producers have access to buyers that source from a smaller group of operations that adhere to their standards, giving them better access to more sale opportunities.

VBP+ is also a third party auditor for the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB). This means that VBP+ certified producers can market their cattle within the Certified Sustainable Beef Framework, which includes supply chains leading to major retailers like McDonald’s, Walmart, and more.

Opportunities to market cattle into these streams exist across the country. From the Maritimes in the east to British Columbia in the west, processors actively seek out VBP+ producers to provide them with the extra value that comes with certified cattle.

In the Maritimes, Atlantic Beef Products Inc. sources all its product from PEI Certified Beef Producers. Along with specific program requirements, they recommend that their producers be registered under Verified Beef Production Plus. The program relies on values like animal care, environmental stewardship, and food safety and quality, all of which align with VBP+ requirements.

Just to the west in Quebec, Meyer Natural Foods also takes pride in working with VBP+ producers. “Meyer Natural Foods holds the highest standard when it comes to humane handling,” says Scott Coakley, Head of the Procurement Team for Meyer Natural Foods. “Meyer has partnered with the VBP+ program. Both Meyer and VBP+ standards meet or exceed the human standards that the industry is looking for. Meyer is a strong supporter of VBP+ and is looking forward to working together in the coming year.”

These sourcing opportunities demonstrate processors’ response to changing industry standards, leading producers to markets that reward them for evolving over time. Luckily, producers can be granted value beyond additional marketing opportunities.

True North Foods of Manitoba offers a consistent price premium for cattle that meet the requirements for their grass fed program. This comes out to a 20 cent premium above current market bid.

Duane Vaags, Grass Fed Beef Program Auditor for True North Foods, expressed how easy it is for VBP+ certified producers to integrate into this program. “I have always been impressed with VBP+ producers and how the program runs,” says Vaags. “They are very prepared and have all their documentation ready to go.”

For True North Foods, documentation is especially important, since their program relies on traceability via RFID tags. Additionally, the animal welfare component of their program aligns with animal health and care standards adhered to by VBP+ producers. So, being certified with VBP+ is an easy ticket to accessing price premiums like this one.

A well-known name encouraging producer participation in sustainable beef supply chains is Cargill. Working from CRSB’s Certified Sustainable Beef Framework, Cargill developed the Canadian Beef Sustainability Acceleration pilot to offer some value back to producers throughout the chain. For cattle that are raised and fed entirely on VBP+ certified operations and go on for slaughter at Cargill, each producer along the supply chain is eligible to receive a credit. These premiums have reached up to $20 per head.

In Alberta, Sendero Limited manages the chain of custody for Harmony Beef, sourcing cattle that qualify for CRSB’s Certified Sustainable Beef Framework. Like other processors, Harmony Beef can offer a price premium on qualifying cattle. We talked to Virgil Lowe, CEO of Sendero Limited, to dig into what drives this supply chain.

“End user demand is driving Sendero and Harmony Beef to work together to source CSB Certified cattle,” says Lowe. “Supplying CSB Certified beef enables restaurants and retailers to tell a positive story about the beef industry to their customers.”

Regardless of geography, processors’ interest in sourcing cattle from supply chains with standards for animal care and health, environmental stewardship, and food safety is a constant. With these same standards, VBP+ can help producers continue to access a broad consumer base well into the future.