As the cattle and meat industries continually evolve, the Certified Hereford Beef® supply chain faces new challenges to ensure product safety, quality and traceability. Certified Hereford Beef® LLC (CHB LLC) and the American Hereford Association (AHA) are providing innovative ways to aid association members and their customers in these future demands.
Hereford Verified fulfills many producer, feeder, packer and CHB LLC needs – supply assurance, supply growth, quality assurance and source, age and breed verification. The program brings together all facets of the beef supply chain – producers, feeders and packers – to create an open market, reliable supply of Certified Hereford Beef® eligible cattle and pays real premiums to program participants.
For more information or to enroll your cattle visit HerefordVerified.com.
Here is how the the Hereford Verified Program works:
Step 1: Enroll Cattle
Log on to HerefordVerified.com. Enroll cattle you intend to market in the future by completing the online enrollment form. The form will ask a series of questions about the genetics of the calves you wish to enroll, as well as size, sex and preferred sell date of these animals. This process will help us make your information available to participating feedlots and contribute to the affidavit that ultimately verifies Certified Hereford Beef product claims. Age and Source information will also be collected at the time of enrollment. In order for your cattle to be officially age and source verified, you must have your cattle/information verified and approved by a third party. There are no obligations for enrolling your calves in the program, and you may do so at any time prior to marketing them.
Step 2: Purchase Tags
Once cattle are enrolled, you will have two tag options. *Please note that each of these tags will make your cattle eligible for bonuses, feedlot data, and carcass data.
Tag Option #1: Ranch
Cattle being marketed through a sale barn or an unapproved location MUST have a Program Compliant Tag (PCT) prior to leaving the ranch. A PCT is a one time use, temper evident, unique tag that will allow your cattle to maintain their age and source approval/identity. These tags can be purchased through Hereford Verified at the time of enrollment. Please note that tags will not be sent out until your Supply Verified Kit has been received and approved by third party. This tag is a Hereford Verified EID button for the cost of $1.85 per tag.
To download your Supply Verified Kit please go to HerefordVerified.com.
Tag Option #2: Feeder
Cattle that will be marketed as non age and source and will be marketed directly from the ranch to an approved QSA or PVP Feedlot or video auction will need to be identified by a HerfNet tag. HerfNet EID tags can be purchased for $1.85 per tag following your registration on herefordverified.com.
Step 3: Age and Source Verification by Third Party
In order to merchandise your cattle to be officially age and source verified, you must have your cattle/information verified and approved by a third party. The Supply Verified Kit download located above is your application for age and source verification. You are probably asking yourself, why do I need to Age and Source my cattle? By having your cattle age and source verified you are giving your cattle added value in the market place. Age and Source gives your cattle marketability to perspective buyers and allows for marketability through the supply chain. IMI Global is the preferred company for third party verification. IMI Global is a company that provides verification solutions for livestock producers.
For a list of additional companies, visit the USDA Web site and click the link at the bottom of the page that reads "Official Listing of Eligible Suppliers for USDA Process Verified Program".
Step 4: Receive Data and Bonuses
Producer bonuses are paid on RFID matches that were sourced from a Hereford Verified feedlot and harvested under an approved packer lot number. Hereford Verified generates a group summary report for each lot that successfully met all program requirements. The report, complete with performance and carcass data, is sent via mail to the original producer of the cattle along with a check for the qualification bonuses. Only one report is generated per lot. In the case of commingled cattle all producers in the group will receive identical reports. A summary of detailed carcass data can be generated for an additional $4 per head; however, you must notify Certified Hereford Beef prior to harvest.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who buys my enrolled calves?
Feedlots in Nebraska and Kansas have been designated to feed cattle specifically for the Hereford Verified program. Producers who enroll in Hereford Verified will have direct access to these feeders to solicit buyers for their program eligible cattle.
Is there a guarantee that a participating feedlot will buy my cattle?
There are no guarantees. However, each participating feedlot has committed to a monthly quota of program cattle and will actively search Hereford Verified enrollments to find them. Your chances of getting a competitive bid on your calves depend heavily on your ability to assemble 50,000 lbs. of same-sex cattle of uniform weight with at least 50% meeting CHB live-animal specifications. Less than load (less than 50,000 lb.) lots are commonly overlooked because of the added transportation costs per head.
Can I sell my calves at auction?
Producers may sell their calves to Hereford Verified feedlot through any means they choose. However because data sharing is dependent upon the cooperation of a specific list of feeders, it’s imperative that producers get one or more of those feeders to participate in the direct-contracting or open-bidding format of their choice.
What price will I get paid for my calves?
Depending on quality, uniformity, flesh, weigh-up conditions, load lots of same-sexed cattle, health program and historical information provided to the prospecting buyer, Hereford Verified feeder cattle are expected to be at local market price or above based on these criteria.
How does a feedlot qualify for the program?
Currently, the participating feedlots are obligated to meet the demand quota. As the program grows, there will be additional feedlots added to the cooperating feedlot list. If a feedlot is not a present cooperating feedlot but has Hereford Verified tagged cattle, that feedlot may become a cooperator by first contacting National Beef or Greater Omaha and then meeting the specific data sharing requirements of Hereford Verified. Only those feedlots that share data can benefit from Hereford Verified.
What if my calves are not sold to National Beef or Greater Omaha?
Cattle not sold to National Beef will not garner feeder premiums or producer bonuses through Hereford Verified.
Why is the premium more at the feedlot level then the producer level?
The Hereford Verified feeder premiums are commensurate with other supply agreements CHB packers have made with feeders that buy and feed Hereford cattle. The difference is that in those past agreements, no data or money went to the producer and the cattle weren’t traceable for CHB. Hereford Verified enhances those supply relationships and requires more data sharing and service from cattle feeders at competitive cost. It wouldn’t work to ask feeders to take less of a premium for the cattle and at the same time to perform more services for CHB and the packer.
Are Hereford Verified Premiums Competitive?
If you’re like most of the cow-calf and seedstock producers that supply Certified Hereford Beef, you’re selling your calves at weaning or yearling and don’t directly benefit from a fed-cattle based procurement program. Hereford Verified is unique in that is passes premiums and data back to producers without the risk or requirement of retained ownership or equity in a packing company. You still negotiate the selling price of your calves, but you don’t give up the qualification bonus or data no matter how the Hereford Verified feeder chooses to market those animals as fed cattle.
If you do feed your own cattle, fed-cattle marketing is a big issue. Within Hereford Verified, there are 3 ways to market those cattle. You may sell your fed cattle to National Beef on their “basis bid” program provided that the cattle are documented to be less than 21 months old at the time of harvest. You may sell your cattle on the US Premium Beef grid which rewards superior carcass quality. Under certain scenarios, any of these three can prove to be the optimal or poorest way to market a pen of Hereford cattle. It’s fair to note, however, that as the market for age-verified cattle is defined, the premiums for cattle under 20 months of age may be quite a bit higher than the standard Hereford Verified premium. Not to worry. All three marketing devices deliver the same $3 producer qualification bonus and all are available to feeders of Hereford Verified cattle.
Can I use Hereford Verified if I use Angus bulls on Hereford cows?
There are two levels of Hereford Verified participation; Yellow tag, which verifies the source, age and genetic background of the calves and “Green tag”, which only deals with source and age. The requirement for Yellow Tags is that the producer can prove that the calves were parented by at least one registered Hereford sire or dam. Currently, the producer can do this on-line by selecting the producer’s bull battery from a list of bulls registered in his or her name.
Green tag calves in the Hereford Verified program require no more proof of parentage or visual evidence of Hereford breeding than do regular Certified Hereford Beef cattle. This program works well with any producer who is not marketing feeder cattle out of registered Hereford seedstock. White-faced calves out of Angus bulls fit the requirements of the green-tag program.
What if, however, the cows are registered but the bulls are not? Calves from that mating can be proven to be 50% Hereford and therefore could be “Yellow-tagged” through Hereford Verified. Similarly, A.I. sired calves could be qualified by the hundreds despite the current rule that only allows enrollments to be tied to a bull battery and only at a rate of 25 calves per bull. The logic can’t be argued but the methodology is a bit more tricky. What we have to develop moving forward is a simple way to electronically validate those records. Our breed should first decide how it recognizes a commercial Hereford cow with a purebred pedigree and no registration papers. If we can do that, we can include “range-registered” Hereford cows in a Hereford Verified system.
Does Hereford Verified handle co-mingled cattle?
Hereford Verified was modeled after the numerous Quality Systems Assessment (QSA) programs packers will use to age-verify cattle for the export market. QSA is a USDA audited program meaning that claims must be validated to the satisfaction of a government auditor.
So how then does one prove the traceability of animals through an auction market, backgrounder, order-buyer or other marketing channel wherein cattle are co-mingled? There are ways for sure, but it’s a mistake to assume that common sense is all that the USDA will require.
QSA managers that the risk of failing an audit, and thus jeopardizing a feeder or packer’s ability to sell to the export market, is higher in situations involving co-mingled cattle. The good news is that Hereford Verified, through its use of electronic ID, is a good start. At present, Hereford Verified is not QSA audited which means that we can use the program with co-mingled cattle and we can work with special feeder-calf sales and backgrounders to identify Hereford Verified cattle.
Keep in mind, however, that these cattle, for the time being, are unlikely to rise to the standard of National Beef’s and Greater Omaha’s QSA and wouldn’t be eligible for some export programs. This issue is dynamic and there are many initiatives at work to solve the problem of co-mingled cattle and QSA programs.