For the last six years, an average of about 30,000 youth per year involved in 4-H and FFA have participated in a program called Quality Counts.
The program is designed to increase their knowledge of the best management practices associated with livestock projects while also addressing issues like ethics and good character attributes.
“That test certifies that those young people have mastered at an 80% level or higher the knowledge base related to the projects for livestock in the state of Texas. The caveat to that is they have to participate in this program as of the major stock show season of 2012.”
Agrilife Extension agent Eric Zimmerman said the push for this program came from the major stock shows.
“Those animals that show up in the market divisions at a major stock show must be free and clear of any withdrawal, of any therapeutic drug prior to arrival.”
“The underlying theme is this. That animal is going into the food chain. If you’re not confident enough to put that animal product on your plate and consume it for supper that night, then why would you assume that it would be OK to feed it to someone else.”
Knowledge about labeling can also prevent innocent mistakes from being made.
“If an animal, a hog, and that hog’s clipped in preparation for a show, the hog gets sunburned, that’s not good on a white hog. Innocent 4-Her goes out there and puts aloe vera on that hog to soothe that sunburn. Well, if it’s straight aloe vera, probably OK, but some of those products that you can buy over the counter may have lidocaine in it. Lidocaine is what? It’s an anti-pain type of thing, not labeled for animals. Innocently that kid could get kicked out.”
Zimmerman said the program was really aimed more at consumers than it was at young people raising livestock projects.
“It was probably more of another step to show the public and to quell any public perception that kids may not know information related to quality assurance for their livestock projects.”
I’m Kailey Carey, looking at Brazos Valley agriculture, From The Ground Up.