In just a few weeks, registered voters will have the opportunity to participate in one of the most remarkable events in human civilization - free and open elections to select the people who will lead our country.

In the past three issues of BEEF, we've striven to acquaint readers with the issues relevant to the U.S. beef cattle industry and the stances of the folks who want the job of U.S. president. On page 52 of this issue is the last of that three-part series - "The Regulatory Spiral."

Much is at stake in the Nov. 7 election. Voters need to consider what is best not only for their parochial interests but for the U.S. as a whole. I believe George W. Bush offers both this industry and the U.S. the best program of leadership abilities and leadership concepts.

It's a fact of life that economic busts follow economic booms. How could Al Gore's package of more spending, more government control, more regulation, class warfare and less personal accountability weather such a downturn? It's a scheme that isn't fiscally or morally responsible at any time.

Bush, on the other hand, appears he has the tools to build bipartisan cooperation in a Congress left deeply divided by eight years of Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Moreover, his stands on controlling taxes and spending, and returning power usurped by the federal government back to the states, is the best program for both the short- and long-term economic and societal interests of this country.

My congratulations go to BEEF contributing editor Wes Ishmael, who recently was named the winner of the coveted Ambassador Award from the Beef Improvement Federation. The annual award is given to a media person in recognition of their contributions in helping to educate cattle producers about new technologies and concepts in cattle breeding.

Anyone reading BEEF is well aware of his stellar job in communicating complex concepts and technologies. You'll find another pair of great examples of his work in this issue - "Manna From Mamas," a page-10 piece on maternal heterosis; and "Mixed Company," page 66, a story on the role of composite and hybrid cattle.

In addition, BEEF editorial staffers collected 10 writing, photo and design awards in recent weeks. BEEF claimed a total of eight awards - two firsts, four seconds and two honorable mentions from the Livestock Publications Council. That same week, BEEF staffers added two more from the American Agricultural Editors Association.

"Pick A Pen For Profit" is the 2000 edition of BEEF magazine's Beef Quality Challenge. You'll find the insert in this issue on page 42a. The contest carries a total of $8,000 in total cash and prizes, but it rewards participants with much more than just the prize figure.

The contest is designed to acquaint readers with factors and concepts that bear on beef quality. By studying the background materials in the six-page insert and carefully considering the concepts and options, each participant should add considerably to his or her understanding of beef quality and their role in guaranteeing quality to beef consumers.

This year, Dan Hale of Texas A&M University has devised a contest utilizing five pens of cattle. The object is to rank the five pens from "best" to "worst" in three categories. These are: feedyard health status, feed efficiency and carcass value per cwt. of carcass weight.

Unlike past versions, this year's contest identifies each pen in terms of its preconditioning history, the breed-type mix, gender, in-weight, days on feed and parasite control. By considering the backgrounds and the visual appraisal of each pen according to the quality factors discussed in the supporting materials, participants will be well on their way to "picking a pen for profit."

The deadline for entries is Nov. 15. The results of the contest will be printed in our December issue, along with a discussion of the factors that owed to each pen's performance. The winners will be announced in our January 2001 issue.

My thanks to Dan Hale and Texas A&M for their fine work in developing this third annual contest. I also thank the Texas Beef Council and the folks at Fort Dodge Animal Health for their continuing work and dedication to top-notch beef quality education programs.