CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) - Starting Tuesday, Wendy's and Tyson, two of the biggest beef markets, are making changes to where they get their product.
They're taking an extra step to make sure the beef they serve to their customers is high quality.
It's a change that could have an effect on the local industry.
Beef Quality Assurance, or BQA, is a certification that has been around for over 30 years. It pertains to the way that beef is raised and handled.
BQA Instructor Haley Shoemaker said while it's nothing new to the cattle industry, it's becoming a necessity for farms who want to continue to thrive. Having a Beef Quality Assurance certification lets buyers know that the cattle they're getting was handled well with as little stress possible, she said.
"It's another way for us to say we've done our part. You can trust in this product. It's been raised in a respectful manner," Shoemaker said.
It's not required, but if you sell to Wendy's or Tyson, it's now becoming necessary to be able to sell your product.
"If you were selling to them in the past and you don't have a BQA certificate, then your chances of selling to them now are going to be slim to none," Shoemaker said.
Chad Bailey, manager at Matthews Cattle Co. in Canfield, said they've been following the practices for the certification for a long time.
"Personally, I think it's good for the industry because it's giving me credit for something that I've been doing all along," he said.
To get a BQA certification, cattle farmers are asked to protect herd health, keep good records and raise cattle under "optimum environmental conditions," among other practices.
Shoemaker said there has been an influx of people wanting their certification now. It's a class you can take in person or online, and it must be renewed every three years.
"They are then responsible for showing that to their local market or their local sale barn to make sure they sale barn knows they're BQA certified," she said.
Now that Wendy's and Tyson are only buying BQA-certified beef, they expect the other buyers to follow in their footsteps. The push comes from consumers wanting to know about what they're putting in their bodies.
"We need to open our doors and let the consumers see what happens," Bailey said.
If you want to know more about the certification, go to www.bqa.org.
You can also call the Mahoning County's Ohio State University extension office to find out when the next in-person training is.
The office is located at 490 South Broad St. in Canfield and can be reached at 330-533-5538.
The next local class is from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, January 10 at Boneshaker's Restaurant in Salem.