McDonald's aims to have at least 10% of its U.S. beef purchases traceable from farm to table by year-end. Reuters reports the McDonald's effort is to help reassure its consumers — in the wake of BSE in the U.S. — about food safety.

John Hayes, McDonald's senior director of U.S. supply, says the firm believes traceability “is an essential component of consumer confidence.” Hayes says McDonald's will continue over the next few years to increase the amount of traceable animal ID products it buys.

“At some point in the not-too-distant future, we'll draw a line in the sand and say that after a certain date, all of our animal products will be from animals that are under an animal ID program,” Hayes says.

Cattle marketing workshops offered. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange are teaming with state cattlemen's associations to present a risk-management workshop. “Marketing Your Way to Profitability” features hands-on training on the use of futures and options. The workshop will be held in 11 states.

Locations and dates include: Oklahoma, Aug. 16; Texas, Aug. 17; Montana, Aug. 20; Kansas, Aug. 23; Michigan, Aug. 25; Tennessee, Aug. 27; Alabama, Aug. 30; Mississippi, Aug. 31; Florida, Sept. 2; and California, Nov. 11. For more info or to register, contact your participating state cattlemen's association or Renee Lloyd, NCBA, at 303/850-3373 or

“Producing High Quality Grading Beef” is the theme of a one-day workshop planned for two Illinois locations. The Aug. 24 and 25 workshops are designed for Midwest producers, and include a series of Midwest specialists covering topics from conception to harvest.

The conferences are set for Aug. 24 in Benton, and Aug. 25 in Quincy, and begin with registration at 3:15 p.m. and conclude at 8:30 p.m. Registration before Aug. 18 is $17, and $22 after. For more info, contact Dave Seibert at 309/694-7501, Ext. 224, or e-mail

Mysterious Washington state dairy cow deaths are ruled accidental. Three dairy cows died in Washington in June due to accidental exposure to “a strong oxidizing chromium compound.”

The initial announcement about the cows' exposure to a toxic substance on a farm in Enumclaw stirred the specter of bio-terrorism in the ag community. Investigation, however, turned up accidental exposure, “caused by material that was stored in the barn, corroded through (its container) and probably dripped down on the cows,” the Associated Press reports FBI agent Roberta A. Burroughs as saying. FDA's Forensic Chemical Center (FCC) identified the substance as “a strong oxidizing chromium compound.”

Rural voters will play a critical role in selecting the next White House occupant. A poll commissioned by the Center for Rural Strategies (CRS), a coalition of rural leaders and organizations, found President Bush leading John Kerry by nine points (51% vs. 42%, respectively) among rural voters in battleground states. The question is whether his rural margin will be enough to carry him to victory overall.

The June 14-20 poll of 536 likely voters in rural areas of the 17 battleground states shows Bush's lead among rural voters has softened since early 2004 when he led Kerry by 15 points nationally, 55% to 40%. In 2000, rural votes helped Bush win Missouri, Ohio and West Virginia.

Southern Plains Beef Symposium on “Checking The Basics” set for Aug. 14 in Ardmore, OK. The symposium will cover a wide range of current topics, from grass production basics to mineral supplementation for beef cattle. The meeting is sponsored by the ag division of the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and the Carter County Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service. Advance registration is $20, or $25 at he door. For more info, call 580/223-5810.

Find your weaning-management info at Just click on “Weaning Management” from the subject menu on the opening page. There, you'll find numerous resources on early weaning, feeding management, health management programs, preconditioning and more.

Or, you can type whatever cow-calf production and management topic you're interested in into the “Search For:” box to call up more than 2,000 fact sheets and research papers. is your No. 1 stop for cow-calf management info.

USDA's series of listening sessions on national animal ID continues. Upcoming meetings include: Aug. 10, Greeley, CO; Aug. 13, Billings, MT; Aug. 16, Kissimmee, FL; Aug. 18, Columbus, OH; Aug. 26, Ames, IA; Aug. 27, Joplin, MO; Aug. 30, Appleton, WI; and Aug. 31, St. Cloud, MN. For more details, go to