The top U.S. beef companies have more processing capacity. And market share as well, reports Cattle Buyers Weekly (CBW) in its annual ranking of the Top 30 Beef Packers. Acquisition and expansion increased daily slaughter capacity of the five biggest firms by 3,675 head to 102,600 head/day during the period from 2000 to 2001, CBW reports.

Excel Corp., the second-largest U.S. beef packer, grew the most, adding 3,300 head/day to its harvest capacity. The top three now feature a harvest capacity 84,700 head/day, up 4,300 head or 5.3% from a year ago.

Meanwhile, the market share of the biggest five firms increased to 76.5%. CBW editor Steve Kay says this is reflective of recent growth by Farmland National Beef Smithfield Foods' move into beef processing via Packerland Packing Co. and Moyer Packing Co.

Students interested in studying range management are eligible for scholarship funds through the Society for Range Management (SRM). Applicants for SRM's annual Masonic-Range Science Scholarship must be high school seniors, or college freshmen or sophomores, planning to major in range science or a natural resource-related field. For more information, contact SRM at 445 Union Blvd. Suite 230, Lakewood, CO 80228; phone 303/986-3309 or visit online at The application deadline is Jan. 15.

Future Beef Operations (FBO) goes on the block Jan. 8. A public auction of the FBO plant in Arkansas City, AR, is planned for Jan. 8, reported the Arkansas City Traveler. The auction will be at 1 p.m. MST in Louisville, CO, at the law offices of Connolly, Rosania & Lofstedt, the firm representing the trustee in the FBO bankruptcy case.

According to a document faxed to the newspaper, on the block will be “100 acres of real property in Cowley County, KS, upon which are located approximately 450,000 square-feet of beef processing buildings; machinery; equipment; vehicles; customer lists; FBO, LLC's mainframe computer; certain equipment located at various feedyards; the Hayes Patent; certain intellectual property, and other assets.”

For more information on the FBO experience, see “Why Future Beef Went Under” (November BEEF, page 40) or go to and check the November issue archives.

This year's Heart of America Grazing Conference will focus on year-round grazing. Set for Jan. 22-23 at the Hannibal Inn in Hannibal, MO, the annual grazing conference combines research information presented by researchers from seven universities with talks by producers from the Midwest.

The conference fee is $40 and includes dinner, lunch and breaks. To register send a check before Jan. 13 to Melodie Marshall, USDA-NRCS, 1050 Highway 72 East, Suite 2, Rolla, MO, 65401. After the deadline, call Marshall at 573/364-6202, ext. 3. For special room rates, call 800/325-0777.

Range managers will meet in Casper, WY, Feb. 2-6. The Society for Range Management's (SRM) 56th annual meeting includes educational seminars and presentations of the latest research in natural resources. Livestock producers are encouraged to attend and participate in discussions led by the nation's leading rangeland management scientists.

Also included is a trade show featuring exhibitors with pasture seed varieties, fencing options, grass seeding drills and herbicides. Special focus workshops during the conference will cover strategies for managing small acreages and utilizing satellite imagery for farm and ranch planning. For more information, call SRM at 303/986-3309 or visit online at

Leonard Wulf wins a $50,000 Siehl Prize for Excellence in Agriculture from the University of Minnesota (UM). The longtime Limousin breeder and worldwide beef industry leader from Morris, MN, was named in November as the laureate in production agriculture. The award includes a $50,000 prize.

The Siehl Prize was created by entrepreneur Eldon R. Siehl. Its purpose is to honor individuals making extraordinary contributions to agriculture and the alleviation of world hunger. Before his death in 1982, Siehl directed that part of his estate be given to the UM Foundation to establish such a prize. More information on the Siehl Prize and its 2002 recipients is available at

New findings about the high-fat, low-carbohydrate Atkins diet are surprising some health professionals. A recent study by Duke University researcher Eric Westman found that followers of such diets may lose more weight and improve their cholesterol levels, too.

Westman's six-month study of 120 overweight people found that participants who followed the Atkins diet by limiting their carbohydrates intake to less than 20 grams/day, while getting 60% of their calories from fat, lost 31 lbs., increased their good cholesterol, lowered their overall cholesterol and lowered their triglycerides level. Meanwhile, others in the study followed the American Heart Association's (AHA) dietary guidelines. They lost 20 lbs., lowered overall cholesterol and lowered triglycerides, but their good cholesterol levels were unchanged.

This monthly column is compiled by Joe Roybal. Contact him at 952/851-4669 or e-mail