Thanks to everyone who sent their comments regarding the ethanol debate ("Adding To The Great Ethanol Debate," Oct. 27 issue). Obviously it's a big topic of consideration in the country and one that promises to have a major impact on the cattle industry.

Perhaps the ethanol debate, false subsidies and the like bring up an even bigger question -- has the cow-calf industry come up with the short straw at the national level in recent years?

Setting aside our own self-inflicted wounds, and inability to unify around a single message, the cow-calf industry always has prided itself on eschewing government intervention. In and of itself, I can't think of a wiser policy for ensuring the future of our industry.

However, other segments of ag haven't held a similar view. Partly because of our operational diversity (many cow-calf producers raise corn, or have ground enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, etc.) our industry has tended to remain silent on a lot of issues that indirectly affect us. The result is successful cow-calf operations today can largely be described as those that can take advantage of government programs in other ag areas.

We've all adapted to the new set of rules, which was the logical and prudent thing to do. But I'd much rather compete on the basis of how good of a product I produce for the beef market, than how well I can take advantage of government-subsidized components to lower my costs.
-- Troy Marshall