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Navigating change: Keeping VBP+ up to date on changes to your operation

Navigating change: Keeping VBP+ up to date on changes to your operation

Change is inevitable. But when beef operations make big adjustments, management changes as well. Keeping VBP+ up to date on your operation is key to staying current with the program.

While an audit is a great assessment of an operation, it can only capture a snapshot of the operation in time. Record assessments and self-declarations provide regular points for VBP+ to check in with producers and see what has changed, making sure everything is still on the right track.

It is important to remember that the VBP+ is a five-year audit cycle. The on-farm audit is an important first assessment, but the records assessments and self-declarations are in themselves annual assessments as well as important points to update information. Five years is a long time, it is very possible producers are making operational decisions that make sense during those five years.

Sometimes beef producers make big changes that have equally big impacts on management practices. VBP+ needs your help to know when those changes are made so we can continue to help you be as efficient, accurate, and sustainable as you can be.

One of the biggest changes an operation can make is adding or removing enterprises. As producers know, managing a cow-calf operation is drastically different than a feedlot. Deciding to background or finish your own calves adds additional complexity to your operation, particularly the aspects of management that are highlighted in the VBP+ standard.

Changing enterprises also means changing audit level. The table below outlines the three types of audit that VBP+ offers, which are defined by the production phases that the operation is involved in.

The three audit levels defined by VBP+ differ by production phase, affecting price
The three audit levels defined by VBP+ differ by production phase, affecting price.

With more production phases involved in an operation, more time is required by auditors and staff to review records, management practices, and documentation. Therefore, the annual cost of an audit is higher for a more complex audit level. However, by offering a combined audit at a slightly higher cost, the producer does not have to perform the same paperwork, audit, and other tasks for each enterprise they are involved in.

An ideal time to inform the renewals team of a change is when submitting the annual information update. However, if a major change is occurring outside the time frame of your annual renewal event, notifying the VBP+ renewals team as early as possible is the best practice. Ideally, a producer will reach out before a change actually occurs. Advance notice will let the VBP+ team reflect these changes to both maximize potential qualification and minimize disruption to any incentive programming as soon as possible. For renewals team contact information, go to the Staff Contacts page on our website and scroll down to VBP+ Delivery Services Inc.

Whether informing the renewals team of a change before or after it occurs, producers should provide a brief summary of what the change is. Key details could include major changes in the number of head managed, added or removed enterprises, and additional facilities. After this initial conversation, the renewals team will send the producer an operation change form to gather more details that will inform the next steps.

The required actions following a major change on a certified operation are handled on a case-by-case basis. For example, a producer deciding to finish their own calves using the same facilities and staff will require different actions than a producer purchasing a new facility, designing a new management system, and hiring new staff to finish their own calves. Follow-up actions can range from an enhanced record assessment, a trigger of an on-farm audit, and a brand-new certification starting a new five-year audit cycle.

Above all, VBP+ wants to help producers take advantage of the benefits to certification. Keeping the renewals team up to date on major changes to your operation will ensure that they can keep you accurate and current on your certification status, maintaining your access to program benefits.