Benefits of Meat Animal Quality Assurance (MAQA) program
First and foremost this program teaches educational understanding on the basics of animal husbandry and general management practices in raising a project animal. This program provides a foundation of animal management for youth of all ages. The educational value surpasses any exhibition requirements that might exist. Research from University of Nebraska indicates youth change their management behaviors after receiving Quality Assurance instruction and achieve higher scores on management quizzes, Skillathon contests and Premier Exhibitor type contests. Youth have a better understanding of animal agriculture. Youth are a producer of food, whether they raise 1 or 100 plus animals! A consumer somewhere will be buying and feeding their family with the animals raised by youth. Many county programs require educational credits in order to participate and sell in their county programs and meat animal sales. This program often meets that educational requirement or may also be required in some form. Many meat processors comment that youth producers have a bad reputation for producing unsafe or questionable products, therefore they hesitate in purchasing animals. This program tells producers/processors that we are educating our youth exhibitors to be responsible food animal producers. Youth producers should be expected to follow the same rules and regulations as all other food producers. Some processors may require producers to complete Quality Assurance programs in order to market their animals. The MAQA program extends that same requirement and education to youth producers. Many processors have taken it a step farther to require producers to complete an on farm audit in order to market their animal’s, such as Hormel and Tyson Fresh Meats.
How can youth meet the MAQA requirements?
- Attending a meeting annually will meet the requirements. Also if offered in the county, youth may take an exam to meet the requirements of the MAQA program.
- Age brackets are Beginners ages 8-11, Intermediates 12-14 and Advanced ages 15-19.
- Attending a meeting meets the requirement for one year, however taking an exam can meet the requirement for more than one year.
- Once completed, youth are entered into the WI MAQA database by the certified trainer.
- With the MAQA program youth don’t receive a certificate much like in other years. A decorative certificate can be provided or youth can ask the certified trainer for a print out of their certification if desired.
How do youth attend a meeting?
- Contact the local Extension Office or Agriculture Education Instructor for meetings that are in the area.
- Go to the Extension Youth Animal Science website for a list of meetings in the area and all information related to Meat Animal Quality Assurance.