If someone asked you how to get to Albuquerque, NM, the logical answer would be: "It depends on where you are." Once you know that, you can plot an efficient course.

That holds true as well for a beef industry aspiring to become more consumer-oriented. Cattlemen largely determined the industry's collective position via two checkoff-funded national beef quality audits (1991 and 1995). These two studies identified the shortcomings and outlined the quality challenges facing the beef industry in its quest to enhance consumer confidence in beef products and better meet consumer needs.

It's Up To Individuals Individuals make up an industry, however. And in order for the industry to move, individuals must move. Producers need to educate themselves on what happens beyond their front gate. How do production management choices and practices affect the products that eventually go into the meatcase or on a restaurant table?

That's the reason BEEF is teaming up with Texas A&M University, the Texas Beef Council and Merial to present the "The Beef Quality Challenge" contest. Across from page 20 of this issue you'll find the first installment of the three-part series.

The series will deal with:

* Why the industry needs to reduce the inconsistency and increase the quality of beef.

* The importance of management in improving beef quality.

* The importance of selection in improving beef quality.

The centerpiece of the insert series is the Beef Quality Challenge contest in this month's issue. Contestants can compete in four age or category groups for a total of $10,000 in prizes provided by Merial. The contest involves four pens of cattle to be judged on seven quality points. Entries must be postmarked by July 15.

Would you like a better look at the cattle before mailing your entry? Additional pictures, a 30-second video and additional information on beef quality and yield and quality grading can be found on the BEEF Internet site (www.homefarm.com). You can also check out http://meat.tamu.edu/extension. html, www.txbeef.org or www.ivomec.com.

In the August issue, the carcass results on the four pens of cattle will be published and certain quality factors will be discussed. In September, our winners will be announced.

The goals of this unique, interactive multimedia project are to:

* Provide insight into factors that influence the value of cattle as they move through the feedlot and packer.

* Create a forum for discussing potential solutions to beef quality challenges.

So join us and our co-sponsors on the pages of BEEF and on the Internet. The prizes are impressive, but the insight into your industry should prove to be even more valuable.

Our Condolences The beef industry lost a huge friend and a big workhorse in early May. Ed Bible, who recently assumed duties with the American Angus Association after 25 years with the two national Hereford associations, passed away May 6.

Ed, who was 53, had an enormous dedication to the beef cattle industry. He was a talented leader and tireless volunteer both within his industry and his community. He was recognized numerous times with writing and service awards both within and outside the beef industry.

On a personal level, Ed was universally liked and admired. Outgoing and genuine, his disarming personality and sense of humor, coupled with his optimistic outlook on life and work, made him a pleasure to encounter at industry meetings.

Our condolences go out to Ed's wife, Sandra, and their two children, Aaron and Emily. Memorials can be sent to the Leawood United Methodist Church, 2915 W. 95th St., Leawood, KS 66206; or to Cross-Lines, an organization devoted to helping the inner city's poor. Ed served on its board of directors. Cross-Lines' address is 736 Shawnee Ave., Kansas City, KS 66105.