It's the way business is done these days. If you can't find a majority, find a judge. That's the route the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) has taken to counter the clout of 72% of U.S. cattle producers who favor the national beef checkoff.

Earlier, LMA failed to scare up the 10% of producer signatures required by law for a referendum. After the recent court decision striking down the mushroom checkoff, however, LMA decided to wrap itself in the Constitution and cite similar arguments regarding First Amendment rights to free speech and association.

The beef industry needs to remember, however, the origins of LMA's battle. It's not a fight waged on behalf of producers. The battle is for LMA's self-preservation.

Marketing in the beef industry is evolving from one in which cattle are sold on averages to one in which cattle are marketed on end-product value. It's occurring in every industry in the world.

LMA's members — with its network of markets and contact with the country — could have a huge role in this evolution. Instead, the group decides to ambush the stagecoach.

Even if LMA wins in court and succeeds in killing a program that by anyone's objective measure has paid huge dividends, the evolution will continue. It is economics not conspiracies that are at work here.

The saddest thing, however, is how LMA has preyed on the fears of a lot of well-intentioned folks to build a base for its self-serving campaign. Those folks have wasted valuable time and in the end will likely pay the heaviest price.

Something Big For Stocker Folks

If you're a stocker operator — a practitioner of the art and science of handling calves in that intermediate period between weaning and the feedyard — I've got some great news for you.

Beginning this month, you'll have access to a tremendous information resource called Beef Stocker USA. The brainchild of Kansas State University (KSU) faculty Mark Spire, DVM, and Dale Blasi, the site will formally debut Sept. 21-22 in conjunction with KSU's Beef Stocker 2001 Profitability Conference in Manhattan.

Beef Stocker USA (find it at www.beefstockerusa.org) intends to be North America's clearinghouse for all data and information regarding efficient stocker production. While the Web site may have KSU origins, all the information, services and tools will be collected from universities and private industry throughout the U.S. and Canada.

BEEF is proud to be a partner in this effort. Over the coming months, BEEF will help build the informational base of the site by providing a library of “fact sheets” on various stocker production and management topics. You'll see feature story versions of those fact sheets appear bimonthly on the pages of BEEF.

The Web site also will offer such unique features as a stocker performance database accessible to all Internet users. This will provide stocker operators and backgrounders with real-life benchmarks to which they can compare their own cattle's performance.

In addition, you'll find updated market reports from 30 different auction markets across the nation on the site. These real-time numbers will be indispensable for users of the price calculators that are also part of Beef Stocker USA.

Take a look around the site and stay tuned to the pages of BEEF for deep coverage of issues important to the beef stocker segment.

Welcome Aboard

Krista Trempe joins the BEEF editorial staff this month. A Sheboygan, WI, native who grew up on an apple orchard near the shores of Lake Michigan, Krista is a journalism graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Her background includes jobs with several publishing companies in both editorial and creative.

Krista is a welcome addition in the production and design side of BEEF magazine as we continue to move into projects beyond the traditional printed page. Welcome aboard, Krista.