The U.S. House has approved the grazing bill, formally called the Forage Improvement Act of 1997. The bill would increase cattle industry stability by allowing federal lands ranchers to plan for forage use, says National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) Federal Lands Committee Chairman Jeff Menges.

"A number of senators have said they may sponsor a grazing bill that could move early next year," he says.

The bill would base range management decisions on sound science by requiring scientific rangeland monitoring and allowing agencies to coordinate monitoring with ranchers and qualified rangeland consultants.

The bill would: require the U.S. Forest Service and BLM to coordinate grazing management with each other, create discretionary authority for the government and ranchers to enter into cooperative allotment management plans, prohibit subleasing of grazing allotments by absentee ranchers, and implement a grazing fee formula that increases the current fee by 36%.

The U.S. and Canada have agreed on a pilot project that should allow ranchers in Montana and Washington to move more cattle into Canadian feedyards. The project waives certain disease testing requirements that currently cost $24/head for cattle coming from low disease-risk areas. Once the project is established, the U.S. and Canada will work to expand it to include more U.S. states.

Cattle losses could total close to $2 million in the October snow storms that hit western Nebraska and Kansas, and eastern Colorado. According to the Nebraska Cattlemen, Kansas and Colorado had the greatest losses, ranging from 20,000 head in western Kansas to 15,000 head in southeast Colorado.

World beef markets are looking up, according to a World Trade Organization (WTO) report. "After three years of weak prices, the world beef market looks poised for a recovery this year," the WTO says in its report "The International Market for Meats 1996-97." All global markets are expected to become more active next year and the U.S. is no exception. Beef imports into the U.S. are expected to rise as the domestic beef supply tightens. On the other hand, WTO economists say U.S. cattlemen will sell 860,000 tons of beef this year into overseas markets, an increase of 11,000 tons over last year.

Plants as edible vaccines are on the way. Last month, Mycogen Corporation entered into license agreements with Washington University, St. Louis, MO, for exclusive commercial rights to genetically alter plants to produce and deliver edible vaccines for human and animal use.

The technology could be used to immunize animals and solve food safety problems caused by bacteria that infect poultry and other livestock and contaminate meat.

According to Mycogen, products could be available in 2-3 years, but full approval might be 5-10 years away.

The USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration has appealed an administrative law judge's decision to dismiss USDA's complaint against IBP for violating the Packers and Stockyards Act. In 1995, USDA filed a formal complaint alleging that pricing agreements offered to select feedyards by IBP gave the feedyards an unfair competitive advantage. On September 25, a USDA administrative law judge dismissed the complaint, saying there was no evidence of any injury to competition.

A South Korean government team has returned home after visiting the U.S. in the wake of a positive E. coli sample. The team met with Food Safety and Inspection Service and Food and Drug Administration personnel, and visited a packing plant and feedyard. Although Korean officials found no problems, they gave no indication of plans to change the 100% testing requirement of shipments from Nebraska and a 20% testing requirement of product from six surrounding states.

A new vaccine against brucellosis in cattle shows promise for protecting bison against the disease. Bison and elk are the last major sources of brucellosis in the U.S.

Scientists with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have been checking a new vaccine containing B. abortus strain RB51 for its effectiveness and safety in bison. In an ARS experiment, scientists have vaccinated 10 female bison calves.

In other news, California was listed a Class Free brucellosis state in October.

Cattlemen looking to buy feed in bulk can find weekly price quotes through an Oklahoma State University web site:www.ansi.okstate.edu/exten/feedbull/ The site is updated every Friday and lists sources for feeds such as cottonseed meal, alfalfa pellets, pelleted corn gluten feed and others.

Sign, then sell. That's the plan in New York. Reported in the Wall Street Journal, an ice-cream stand in Saranac Lake, is the first burger vendor to require customers to sign a waiver before eating any hamburger less than well done.