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New Online YQCA to Replace MAQA for Youth Exhibitors
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 05/22/2017

For the past 15 years, the Meat Animal Quality Assurance program has helped Wisconsin youth who exhibit market animals learn about the importance of raising safe and wholesome food products by focusing on the proper care and welfare of animals. Now a new nationwide multi-specie program has been developed to strengthen the youth educational experience.

It's called the Youth for the Quality Care of Animals, or YQCA, which was created for student that raise beef, dairy, goat, poultry, rabbit, sheep and swine. Coordinators say it aims to provide a common framework for food animal quality assurance programs, which will strengthen the youth educational experience, improve the care of food animals, and promote a higher level of consumer food safety.

Bernadette O'Rourke is the Extension Youth Livestock Specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Animal Sciences Department. She says the new YQCA is available online and includes content and modules that demonstrate a progression of topic knowledge in designated age categories, including Junior (8-11), Intermediate (12-14), Senior (15-18) and Young Adult (19-21).

"Each year, youth complete one new module in Animal Welfare, Food Safety and Character Education," O'Rourke said. "YQCA gives ag families more flexibility in gaining this required certification, which is more convenient to accommodate busy seasonal schedules."

O'Rourke says youth will spend about 60 minutes each year completing the modules. Participating in the online program also saves money on fuel and food costs associated with attending trainings, though there will still be a nominal fee to participate in the sessions.

Starting this fall, the YQCA will replace Wisconsin's MAQA program and the National Pork Board Youth Pork Quality Assurance program.

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