BEEF magazine endorsed George W. Bush in 2000 because, as we said in the October 2000 issue, he offered “this industry and the U.S. the best program of leadership abilities and leadership concepts.” Four years later, we believe those same traits and his performance in one of the most difficult terms ever faced by a chief executive warrants his reelection.

By any objective measure, Bush's stewardship the past four years has been a success. That's true not only from an economic and national security perspective, but a beef industry perspective as well.

Consider the challenges:

  • A recession that began in the last year of the Clinton administration with the wilting of the dotcom bubble came to full bloom in Bush's first year in office. Consumer confidence was further cooled by corporate accounting scandals that year.

  • The terrorism of Sept. 11, 2001, impacted market confidence and continues to affect key industries today. Meanwhile, new security and economic stability concerns necessitated unforeseen spending that has driven up the deficit.

The U.S. beef industry suffered its own shocks as well:

  • In late September 2001, BSE was discovered in Japan, and the biggest U.S. export market for beef dried up.

  • That was followed a couple of weeks later by a Russian ban on U.S. poultry exports. The move forced tons of extra poultry onto the U.S. market each week.

  • In May 2003, BSE was discovered in Canada. Six months later, a single case of BSE was discovered in the U.S.

Now consider the Bush results:

  • The economy continues to strengthen. Across-the-board tax relief has revived the economy. Home ownership is at record levels, and inflation and mortgage rates remain low.

  • No terrorism has occurred within the U.S. since 9/11/01.

  • Saddam Hussein is about to go on trial. Taliban and al Qaeda thugs have been driven from power in Afghanistan. Millions in the Mideast are free of oppressive dictatorships. And Libya, a chief sponsor of international terrorism, has renounced its weapons programs.

Meanwhile, the beef industry has experienced some of its best days ever. Beef demand is surging, and prices for all classes of cattle have reached heights few dared to even contemplate. And, this was realized despite the discovery of BSE in the U.S.

Beef demand, of course, isn't something that can be laid totally at Bush's feet. But the policies and adept handling of the BSE crisis by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and USDA prevented BSE from decimating the U.S. market.

In addition, Bush's actions in cutting taxes, providing small-business incentives, phasing out the death tax, and giving more consideration to landowner concerns when drafting and interpreting legislation are all big wins for the U.S. ag sector.

Bush's actions over the past four years have been decisive and resolute. To be sure, the surge in the federal deficit during this period is concerning. And many who favor a smaller, constitutionally limited government have been disappointed.

But, faced with tremendously costly challenges in protecting the homeland and shoring up a rattled economy, these can hardly be considered “normal” times. We believe some latitude must be allowed.

Next month, Americans are faced with a sharp contrast between candidates and their stands on issues. Bush has proven his mettle as a chief executive and commander in chief. And he's proven himself a friend to small business and agriculture. He deserves another four years.

(To learn the candidates' positions, visit www.beefusa.org. Click on “Bush vs. Kerry Comparison Chart” from the “What's Moo On the Hill” section in the opening page's center column.)