Progressive Beef Provides Standard with BQA Training

Dynamic quality management system provides customization and documentation for feedyards.

By Audrey Hambright. Photos courtesy of Beef Marketing Group.

Heather Donley (right) trains truck drivers at a Progressive Beef feedyard.

Heather Donley (right) trains truck drivers at a Progressive Beef feedyard.

The Beef Marketing Group (BMG), Zoetis and the Beef Cattle Institute (BCI) have teamed up to provide quality management training to feedyards across the country participating in the Progressive Beef program.

Progressive Beef is a quality management system for feedlots that was created by the Beef Marketing Group in 2000 with an emphasis on pre-harvest food safety based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP). The Progressive Beef program is now offered by Zoetis to its feedlot customers. Over time, the program grew gradually to address quality control, animal welfare, sustainability and food safety as part of everyday practices.

According to Sarah Schumacher, Progressive Beef program manager with Zoetis, economic viability of the program is key. Incorporated into the program standards are the use of the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) online training modules provided by the BCI.

“All employees of Progressive Beef feedyards are required to become BQA certified,” Schumacher said. “We wanted to find an efficient way to provide BQA training and with the high turnover in feedyards, this was the most ideal.”

Heather Donley, director of Quality Assurance of the BMG, also emphasized the efficiency of the online training.


Heather Donley performs an audit at Will Feed Inc., Cozad, Nebraska.

“The online modules are not only easy to incorporate into training, but provide a bilingual option for users,” Donley said. “We also have the certificates instantaneously and can log-in to see who has completed the training and who has not.”

In addition to BQA training, Progressive Beef uses the following seven principles of the HACCP program to ensure effectiveness of the management system:

  1. Conduct a hazard analysis
  2. Determine critical control points
  3. Establish critical limits
  4. Establish monitoring procedures
  5. Establish corrective actions
  6. Establish verification procedures
  7. Establish record-keeping and documentation procedures.

“By having these protocols and documentation in place, we can help feedyards be more efficient,” Schumacher added.

The entire program is founded on the ability to be verified through documentation. First, each feedyard has the ability to customize standard operating procedures to their operations and determine how they are going to meet requirements. Subsequent to training and a period of time operating under Progressive Beef, internal audits are conducted by trained Progressive Beef auditors. Third-party audits are conducted annually to acquire certification  to maintain the high standards of Progressive Beef.

“Progressive Beef is on a quantitative score system where feedyards are able to see where they sit at the end of the audit,” Donley said. “They can track their performance over time and find what they need to focus on in training.”

According to Donley, because the program is customizable, certain requirements can be easily added to the system to enhance the dynamics of the program.

“The program is always changing which is what makes it relevant to our producers today,” she said.  “When a feedyard has gone through a Progressive Beef audit, it has already gone through FarmCheck. It’s one program that meets everyone’s needs.”

John Butler, CEO of the Beef Marketing Group, emphasized the importance of added value that Progressive Beef brings to the table and what it can ultimately offer producers and consumers alike.

The goals for the initiative are to create value for the cattle in the eyes of the end user,” Butler said. “Progressive Beef provides assurance to the consumer that there is a verified system behind the branded beef products that they are purchasing.”

With the help of Zoetis, Butler is looking forward to carrying this initiative forward into the long-term.

“We are not necessarily creating a brand, but enhancing an existing brand. Retailers and food service operators have added confidence in the beef they are offering to consumers as a result of Progressive Beef,” he said.