Cattle cycles typically run 10-12 years, but rancher memories only go back seven years, writes Harlan Hughes in his October “Market Advisor” column on page 8. Even with today's great prices, this isn't the time for “management as usual” by cow-calf producers, he says.

Trailing in most polls these days, John Kerry seems to be having trouble stirring the electorate. In fact, many folks claim they'll vote for Kerry just because he isn't George W. Bush. But, Bush is expected to take the rural vote convincingly in November, just as he did in 2000. Doug McInnis covers the two candidates' positions in “A Lot On The Line” on page 14.

Why did R-CALF band with “consumer” groups that have historically been anti-beef and anti-cattle? That's just one of the questions BEEF Senior Editor Clint Peck puts to R-CALF founder Leo McDonnell in this month's BEEF Chat” on page 18.

Prodded by the speed, reach and accessibility of the Internet, Prairie Populism seems to be making a comeback these days. Dan Zinkand explores the modern-day movement, contrasts it with the original version of the late 1800s, and assesses if there's any grounding to the movement in “Prairie Populism: Then And Now” on page 30.

Many folks consider high-tech practices such as DNA fingerprinting as infeasible for the commercial cow-calf producer, either because of situation or cost. But, a just-completed, three-year study in California demonstrates how its possible, with DNA technology, to collect and track a volume of data and manage cattle individually, even in sprawling western ranching operations. Read Wes Ishmael's story, “Who's Your Daddy?” on page 35.

“In trade, there is no unilateral action,” writes consulting nutritionist Dave Price, in his commentary, “Let's really look at fair trade” on page 47. Price, whose work carries him across both U.S. borders and abroad, says those in the beef industry who are pushing trade protectionist policies should pay attention to history and how the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act turned a recession into the Great Depression.

Hot Shots

Travel to Brazil with BEEF

Nov. 5 is the registration deadline for the 3rd annual tour of Brazil, sponsored by BEEF magazine and sister publication, Corn & Soybean Digest. Set for Jan. 15-28, 2005, participants will experience Brazil's rich agricultural regions and learn about the challenges South America's largest country faces as it strives toward its goal of becoming a global ag powerhouse.

The tour package includes a full itinerary of organized cattle and crop production tours, and agribusiness and diplomatic visits, as well as popular tourist destinations. For more info, contact Clint Peck at cpeck@primediabusiness.com or call 406/896-9068.

Elections 2004

For a detailed comparison of the presidential candidates' positions, go to www.beefusa.org and click on “Bush vs. Kerry Comparison Chart” from the “What's Moo On the Hill” section in the center column of the opening page.

Beefing up grazing

Interseeding legumes into grass-based pastures provides several advantages for improved grazing quality, says Stephen Barnhart, Iowa State University professor of agronomy.

Barnhart says legumes' nitrogen contribution to the associated grasses can be as much as the same growth stimulus provided by 30-50 lbs./acre of fertilizer nitrogen. A less noticed benefit is a better distribution of pasture growth through the summer months than is seen in most grass-dominant pastures.

“The degree of total benefit will be relative to the percentage of legume in the improved pasture. If the legume proportion is 35-40% or more, production per acre can nearly double. With lesser legume content, you'll see proportionally lesser benefits,” he says.

Keeping the improved legume component should be an important management goal for the improved pasture, he adds. Be sure to maintain adequate fertility to support legume growth (lime, phosphorus and potassium), and begin a pasture rotation management to allow for adequate rest/recovery periods for the legumes (and grasses).

Iowa Quality Beef plant closes

A bad market and conditions wrought by BSE were cited for the closing of the Iowa Quality Beef (IQB) plant in Tama on Sept. 3. The facility opened in July 2003 and was heralded as the centerpiece of a hoped resurgence of high-quality beef production in the Hawkeye State. It employed 540 workers.

IQB board chairman Wythe Willey, a Cedar Rapids cattleman and lawyer, says the closing is intended to be temporary, with reopening anticipated in two months. The facility's harvest capacity is 1,200 head/day. Willey says the plant has lost as much as $5 million since the December discovery of a BSE-infected cow in Washington state.

The plant is owned by the Iowa Quality Beef Supply Cooperative, made up of 900 Midwest cattle producers, and is jointly operated with American Foods Group of Green Bay, WI, which has a 25% stake in the co-op.

Japan amends testing rule

The Kyodo News reported on Sept. 10 that Japan will change its domestic requirement for blanket testing of all cattle at harvest to exempt cattle less than 20 months of age. The announcement followed the acceptance by Japan's Cabinet Office's Food Safety Commission of a report on Thursday that concluded it was difficult to test for BSE in cattle under 20 months of age with current tests.

Japan's Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry was to draw up a revised rule by the end of September. With Japan's long-held position that the U.S. must match Japan's domestic BSE policies, the development would seem to open the door to the U.S. export of beef products from cattle less than 20 months of age.

My Top 10 Clicks

Art Brownlee

Owner and operator JHL Ranch Ashby, NE

  1. www.agdayta.com — DTN Web site for weather, markets, news and commentary.
  2. www.huskerpedia.com — University of Nebraska football Web site.
  3. www.crh.noaa.gov/radar — Doppler weather radio Web site.
  4. www.foxnews.com — Web site for Fox News.
  5. www.angus.org/sireeval/se_epd_search.cfm — Web page for Angus sire evaluations.
  6. www.braunvieh.com — Home address for the Braunvieh breed.
  7. www.msu.edu/~ritchieh/papers/whereareweheaded.html — Web site for Michigan State University emeritus professor Harlan Ritchie's latest thoughts.
  8. www.issuesinperspective.com — Web site for Kim Eckman, Grace University. president and professor in Bible and history.
  9. http://hoaxbusters.ciac.org/ — Stop Internet hoaxes!
  10. www.jhlbeef.com — Web site for JHL Ranch.