Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, had the chance to visit with Blaze Currie of the Youth for the Quality Care of Animals (YQCA) group at their booth during the National FFA expo being held this week in Indianapolis.
The first meeting of the YQCA, Currie said, was in 2016.
“It was a joining of industry partners representing the beef industry, the pork industry, and the sheep and goat industry,” Currie said. “They came together, and their vision was for a national multi-species quality assurance program for youth like many of the checkoff programs have for producers. They wanted one that would have a nationwide scope and also be multi-species, specifically for youth.”
For young people who are raising animals that will eventually go into food production, Currie said there are three core pillars that YQCA focuses on: food safety, animal well-being, and character development.
“One is that we as citizens want a safe food supply,” Currie said. “We want to build trust with consumers, so any animal that is going to enter that food supply- we want to ensure it has been raised in an appropriate way.”
The second priority, Currie said, is animal welfare.
“This is all about building trust with consumers, and they want to know that the best methods and practices are being utilized,” Currie said.
As hundreds of thousands of youth participate in raising livestock for youth livestock shows, Currie said the main goal of the program is to ensure that youth and their families understand the proper ways to raise and take care of animals that are going to be in the food chain.
“This program does conclude with a certification,” Currie said. “We can provide those certifications to local fairs and major livestock events, so they know that every exhibitor has gone through some sort of quality assurance program or quality care program.”
At the end of the day, Currie said YQCA is a non-profit organization, and the board is comprised of industry representatives, agricultural educators, and extension professionals who care about the youth and believe that youth raising livestock is a great way to develop character.
There is a web-based program available at https://yqcaprogram.org/
“If they are 13 or older, they can create their own account,” Currie said. “If they are under 13, they do need a parent to create their account due to child online privacy laws. Anyone can take this anywhere.”
Currie added that some states do require the course to be taken in person with an instructor.
“A lot of our youth- about 30 to 40 percent get in-person training,” Currie said.
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