Marketing Claims: NHTC program adds value to Wyoming calvesWritten by Christy Martinez
The Non-Hormone Treated Cattle (NHTC) Program has been in effect since 1999, when the European Union (EU) and the U.S. agreed to control measures to facilitate the trade of non-hormone treated beef.
Since then, more and more Wyoming producers have added the NHTC marketing claim to their operations.
“Many producers have added NHTC to their marketing claims because the buyers have come back and told them they’d like to have it added to their calves,” says Wyoming Business Council Livestock and Meat Program Manager John Henn.
Henn says the dollar value of the claim depends on many factors, including the time of year and the quote from the EU.
“In some sales I’ve seen it go anywhere from three to five dollars per hundredweight higher on NHTC calves and yearlings,” says Henn. “It just depends on the sale and the time of year.”
He says the marketing claim is guided by the supply line and demand for the buyers and the NHTC-approved processors who export to Europe.
There are three principle components of the NHTC program:
Cattle are to be grown in approved farms/feedlots and delivered to the slaughter establishment with shipping documentation that includes the statement “Cattle Meet EV Program Requirements for the EU” and clearly identifies the animals and the quantity.
Non-hormone treated cattle and beef are segregated at the slaughter establishment and handled in a fashion that ensures that they are not commingled with other animals or meat.
Tissue samples from non-hormone treated cattle are collected at slaughter and analyzed for Food Safety Inspection Service to provide export certification for the product.
Clay Hobbs of the Snowy Range Cattle Company northwest of Laramie says his operation has produced NHTC cattle for around five years.
“We’ve been on an all-natural program for the last 10 years, and five years ago we needed another avenue to market our steers, so I investigated the NHTC program and decided that would be another route to go with them,” says Hobbs.
Snowy Range Cattle uses IMI Global for their third-party certifier, and there are several other companies that also provide the service, such as AgInfoLink, which is used by the Wyoming Business Council’s Wyoming Verified program.
When choosing which company to work with, Henn says, “The differences could be pricing, or what it takes to get a marketing claim implemented. Every company has a different cost structure and differences in type of tags that are used.”
When looking for companies, like anything else, Henn says to look for service or product cost, and how well it fits into a program from a standpoint of what a producer has to do and what they can do.
“For some things these programs require, for some producers it’s a matter of management and labor issues,” says Henn.
Henn says he chose AgInfoLink for the Wyoming Verified program because of its flexibility.
For those who are considering NHTC, or another marketing claim, Hobbs says, “Before you get started, make sure you have all your records up to date, and have everything ready to go, so when they come in to verify and do your audit, you have everything in place. It’s a lot of paperwork, just have good calving records, doctor records, etc.”
To get into the program, Henn says to contact a company that has that claim, and visit with them on what their audit requirements are, because it does take an additional audit from the other claims.
“Producers who are in the Wyoming Verified program do an additional audit for the NHTC claim alone, and it is an annual audit,” explains Henn, saying the audits take from two to four hours, depending on the operation’s recordkeeping system. He says the verifier looks at feed resources, injectables and specific records and detail.
In visiting with sale barn reps, Hobbs says he’s learned there is increasing demand for the NHTC program.
“The packer buyers are asking for it, and it’s another market to send the cattle to a different area,” states Hobbs.
Snowy Range Cattle markets through a video auction, as one stipulation of NHTC is that the cattle cannot go through a salebarn.
“They have to go directly from our place to an approved yard,” says Hobbs.
Now, in addition to being certified all-natural, certified NHTC and source verified, Snow Range Cattle has also recently added what’s known as GAP approval through the Global Animal Partnership, which verifies the humane treatment of livestock.
Of NHTC, Hobbs says, “I think it’s a very worthwhile program. It allows you to hit a niche market that’s growing right now, and I see it growing more as the beef market keeps increasing.”
Henn says, “NHTC is another viable market where cow/calf producers can add value to their calves by having such a marketing claim, along with age and source or natural or whatever their production program is. If they want to do it, it brings another buyer to their program, and one more person bidding on their calves.”