Many operations are ill-served by their on-ranch accounting systems, writes “Market Advisor” economist Harlan Hughes. They're great for income tax-reporting purposes, but don't offer the necessary important managerial information. In his second of a four-part series on page 8, Hughes reveals what a “good” on-farm accounting system should provide its user.

“We want to ensure the ag community as a whole doesn't have to take an unequal part in the coming deficit-reduction effort,” John Queen tells Joe Roybal in “Southern Comfort” on page 14. The third-generation cattleman from North Carolina assumes the reins of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association in early February. Queen provides his take on the year ahead.

Restaurants are tinkering with every aspect of the traditional hamburger, devising all sorts of new twists in toppings, flavorings and breads, writes Diana Barto. In “Reinventing The Burger” on page 20, the former BEEF Senior Associate Editor details how specialty burgers with distinctive names are popping up alongside the traditional burgers in retail chains all over the country.

Kentucky boasts 1.1 million beef cows, but the state's average herd size is just 29 head. BEEF Managing Editor Alaina Burt tells how an enterprising group of Bluegrass State producers came to pool their cattle, labor and resources, and reaped the benefits of the better prices possible with large groups of uniform cattle. Read “The Positives Of Pooling” on page 40.

Investors and rural America are salivating over the fortunes possible in converting corn into ethanol. But the competition for corn for energy purposes is putting the squeeze on livestock production. Larry Stalcup details in “Ethanol Fallout” on page 52 what some experts are saying could be the long-term effects on the beef industry of a nation energy-crazy for corn.

The BEEF magazine-sponsored BEEF Quality Summit, held in Oklahoma City in November, attracted more than 200 participants to hear 23 speakers deliver their ideas on how to become a player in the new beef-value chain. This month, Senior Editor Clint Peck kicks off our ongoing coverage of that event with “Global Competition” on page 58.