Proceedings of the 2002 Beef Stocker Conference are available free of charge. Find them at:, a cooperative Web site effort between Kansas State University and BEEF magazine. In addition, check out the ever-growing wealth of information and free downloads available on, the world's top archive for stocker management information. New on the site are:

  • A “breakeven selling price” program for Palm OS (available in the “calculators” section).

  • The two latest additions to the stocker fact sheet series — one on the marketing value of stocker information and another on calculating shrink.

  • In addition, check out the new, more time-efficient “search” feature.

Our deepest condolences to the Burke Healey family. The industry icon from Davis, OK, passed away Oct. 21. He was 70. Memorials may be made to Cross Timbers Hospice, 1514 Meadow Lane, Ardmore, OK 73401 (580/223-0655).

World-renowned in livestock circles and considered the father of frame scoring, Healey was also a tireless industry volunteer and contributed much in leadership and foresight to breed, state and national cattlemen's organizations. BEEF magazine bestowed is first-ever Trailblazer Award on Healey in 1994 for his work in promoting the mapping of the bovine genome.

The move to irradiated ground beef continues to pick up steam.

  • Three years after approving the sale of irradiated meat to the public, USDA says it will reconsider, and is likely to lift, its prohibition on irradiated foods in the federal school lunch program. A decision is expected by the end of the year.

  • All imported fruits and vegetables that might carry fruit flies can now be irradiated for sale in U.S. markets, USDA ruled in October. As a result, the amount of irradiated foods available to U.S. consumers is expected to jump dramatically as imported fruits and vegetables make up 40% of the produce consumed in the U.S.

  • And five more retailers add irradiated, fresh ground beef to their retail offerings. The firms include: Hy-Vee, a West Des Moines, IA-based chain of 200 stores in seven Midwest states; Virginia Beach, VA-based Farm Fresh, a regional chain with 11 locations; Price Chopper, a Schenectady, NY-based supermarket chain of 102 Northeast U.S. stores; Clemens, a family-owned, regional supermarket chain of 19 locations in the Philadelphia, PA, area; and Giant Food, a 189-location supermarket chain headquartered in Landover, MD.

The market advantages of fall-calving beef-cow herds. That's the topic of a Dec. 14 University of Missouri Fall Calving Options Workshop in Linneus. Covered will be the enhanced profit opportunities available by tailoring calves to a market time when prices are traditionally higher, as well as the environmental, health and grazing considerations. Contact Roberta Baumgardner at 660/895-5121 or

A Billings, MT, district judge has affirmed the beef checkoff's constitutionality. In Charter v. USDA, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Cebull ruled in favor of USDA and the Beef Promotion and Research Act.

Cebull based his Nov. 1 decision on the records in the case, as well as transcripts in the Livestock Marketing Association's (LMA) lawsuit against the checkoff. In that South Dakota suit, now under consideration by the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, LMA similarly challenged the constitutionality of the beef checkoff.

How $100 is spent at the grocery store
Perishables $49.67
Beverages 10.71
Miscellaneous grocery 5.41
Non-food grocery 8.77
Snack foods 6.39
Main meal items 8.44
Health & beauty care 3.72
General merchandise 3.45
Pharmacy 2.49
Unclassified 0.95
Source: Progressive Grocer, April 2002

The Charter case originated as a checkoff compliance issue in 1998 when the Shepherd, MT, ranching couple refused to pay the mandated $1/head beef checkoff on the sale of their cattle. The Charters, who claim to raise “natural” beef, had earlier been denied a proposal for access to checkoff funds by the Montana Beef Council (MBC). They wanted $1,000 to sponsor a whole-foods fair and nutritional lecture.

The MBC rejected the proposal on the basis that no brand or trade names can be referenced in a checkoff-funded project without the USDA secretary's prior authorization. The Charters challenged the MBC decision and protested checkoff payments claiming they are compelled to fund advertisements that don't differentiate between their products and other beef products.

On April 26, 2000, a USDA administrative law judge enforced the checkoff and ordered the Charters to pay $417.79 in assessments and late fees — along with a $12,000 fine. The Charters appealed their case to the federal district court.

In his decision, Cebull ordered the Charters to pay the $412.79 but dismissed the $12,000 fine.

The Charter case likely will be appealed and become part of a larger issue of commodity checkoff constitutionality, which ultimately will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. Read the decision at

This monthly column is compiled by Joe Roybal, 952/851-4669 or