In Oregon, a federal lawsuit involving the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) may have huge implications for all BLM permittees. Earlier this year, ONDA filed a rulemaking petition with the BLM asking the agency to reassess all grazing permits in the state as to their "suitability for grazing."

If the court acts quickly and in favor of ONDA, the rules could be placed into effect before Jan. 20 under the Clinton administration.

Karen Budd-Falen, Cheyenne, WY, represents the Oregon Public Lands Council (OPLC) which is intervening. She cites the Taylor Grazing Act (TGA) which in 1934 required all Western "unappropriated lands" (not private, Forest Service, etc.) to be evaluated as to whether or not they were "chiefly valuable for livestock grazing and raising forage crops."

The OPLC argues that nowhere in the TGA or subsequent laws governing BLM grazing is there a requirement for future "suitability assessments."

"We absolutely oppose any kind of rulemaking to define suitability and require total reassessment of BLM grazing lands," says Budd-Falen. "This suitability assessment is not required by law, therefore the court can't force the BLM do it."

Plus, Budd-Falen adds, this type of reassessment would require a huge expenditure of time and resources the BLM doesn't have. Under the petition, the BLM would have only 30 days to write the rules, define "suitability" and state how it will conduct the assessment on every acre of BLM land in the country.

Ten monuments in one year. The 293,000-acre Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, located near the Colorado River north of the Grand Canyon, is Bill Clinton's 10th monument created in 2000, and the fourth in Arizona. Clinton also ordered 661,000 acres of federal land added to the 54,440-acre Craters of the Moon National Monument in central Idaho.

Fear over BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy or "mad cow disease") surged across Europe in mid-November.

In France, where the number of cases of BSE have tripled to 90 from 31 last year, nearly two dozen districts have pulled beef from school menus, the Washington Post reports. In addition, the French government imposed a one-year ban on T-bone steaks and sweetbreads, a delicacy made from the thymus gland. Cow intestines were banned recently too.

The French farmer's union plans to withdraw from the market all cattle born before July 1996. Meanwhile, beef prices have tanked throughout France.

As a precautionary measure, the Swiss Red Cross is barring blood donations from people who spent more than six months in Britain between 1980-96. There is no evidence, however, that it is possible to transmit the variant strand of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease through blood transfusions.

Don C. King, the 28-year leader of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA), died Oct. 24 in Fort Worth. He was 71. King is survived by his wife Billie, two children and five grandchildren. Memorials may be sent to TSCRA at 1301 W. Seventh St., Fort Worth, TX 76102-2665.

An Alabama judge rejected a cattlemen group's third attempt to seek class action status in a four-year-old lawsuit against IBP. Senior Judge Lyle Strom refused the certification saying it had not been demonstrated that feedlot owners had standing to bring claims on behalf of cattle owners, nor had they shown that feedlot revenues are tied to or dependent on the prices packers pay for cattle, reports Cattle Buyers Weekly. The group claims IBP used its market power and marketing agreements to depress prices.

Meet Sally Safe-Food, the lead character in the National Meat Association's (NMA) "HAACCP for Kids" program. The project is designed to use easy-to-understand messages about food safety to introduce the concept of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) programs. The cartoon character will remind kids to wash their hands and cook their meat to appropriate temperatures. NMA plans to release the comic strip as a paper placemat for restaurants.

With Costa Rica recently gaining "free" status from USDA, that leaves Panama as the only Central American country still working toward eradication of screwworms. Screwworm females lay their eggs in the open wounds of animals where the larvae feed on the surrounding flesh. Infested animals may die in seven to 10 days if not treated. Screwworms were eradicated from the U.S. in 1966.

The world's largest pork processor wants the world's largest meat packer. In mid-November, Smithfield offered $2.7 billion in stock, plus assumption of $1.4 billion in debt. The offer of $25/share in Smithfield stock for each share of IBP is well above the $22.25/share cash bid IBP's board accepted two months ago from Wall Street investment giant DLJ (see November BEEF, page 70). Smithfield, which holds 6.6% of IBP stock, is likely to face antitrust scrutiny should it buy IBP.