Your January issue editorial on meat irradiation (“Editor's Roundup,” page 4) was squarely on target.

Before I retired in 1995 as editor-in-chief of the Journal of The American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Journal of Veterinary Research, I wondered why shakers and movers with a stake in the promotion of safe, wholesome meat were not shaking and moving. The well-documented benefit and safety of meat irradiation unquestionably supported the wisdom of, and need for, such a campaign.

After so many years of excruciatingly slow progress, my take (and your take) on the issue at this time seems so patently logical. So long as even a few human carnivores are at risk of succumbing to food-borne illness, why not implement nationwide meat irradiation ASAP by means of a federal mandate and/or through an industry-wide response to popular demand?

The public is no longer naive about the efficacy and safety of irradiation in zapping potential pathogens in any package of any kind of meat. We need not tiptoe through the tulips and call it “cold pasteurization.” Irradiation is not a dirty word. In fact, it is a word that strongly conveys cleansing for human consumption.

But even though preaching to the choir is a good starting point, somehow we need to find a way to amplify that message — beyond earshot of the choir — to prick the conscience of those who have been dragging their feet thus far.
Albert Koltveit, DVM, MS
Port Ludlow, WA

Heterosis Is A Must

In regard to your February issue story “Straightbreds Vs. Crossbreds” (page 28): I think highly of the Angus breed, but the U.S. beef industry must take advantage of heterosis in cowherds to remain competitive in meat production. Using data from our heterosis project here at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, David Notter of Virginia Tech's Department of Animal Science demonstrated that the breakeven costs of production were reduced about 10% by crossbreeding. The industry can ill afford to give up that much savings in cost of beef production.
Larry Cundiff
U.S. Meat Animal Research Center
Clay Center, NE

Landowners Weren't Contacted

I'm writing in response to Clint Peck's “Undaunted Stewards” article in the January issue (page 14). I feel he did a good job as far as he went on this subject. However, the point overlooked and unmentioned is that the whole monument issue was a land grab by environmental organizations.

The Wilderness Society and the Montana Wildlife Federation proposed a monument boundary on a map, dated February 1999. That was before then-Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt floated down the Missouri River from Fort Benton and got involved in making the monument proposal. The boundary on that map was closely followed by the current monument boundary.

We have 320 acres within the boundary. There was no public input concerning the boundary after the designation. No landowner was contacted about whether or not they wanted their land in the monument.

If the monument boundary would have stayed within close proximity of the Missouri River instead of taking land 14-18 miles from the river, people wouldn't have been nearly so upset. We aren't against people floating the river.

Now, we have groups like Grand Canyon Trust purchasing grazing rights in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, as of Nov. 26, 2001.

These are a few of the reasons that we want our private land out of the Missouri River Breaks National Monument.
Tom Walling
Winifred, MT

Pooling For Market Clout

In the January issue “Reader's Viewpoint,” John Runk asks how small cow/calf operations can overcome the disadvantage of marketing less than a pot load of calves (“A Marketing Question,” page 6). We have been working with the National Farmers Organization for several years selling our farm products, beef and grain. They pool things together to sell, and it works quite well. The phone number is 800/624-4175. The address is NFO, 528 Billy Sunday Rd., Ames, IA 50010.
Robert Tornes
Waterford, OH

A Teaching Tool

I teach a junior-senior level beef production and management class with an enrollment of about 50 students. I would like to use BEEF as a tool for teaching the students about current issues in the cattle industry. I think they would also find BEEF to be a useful source of information about supplies and equipment for cattle. Would you be willing to send 55 copies of BEEF for the months of February, March and April for us to use in class?
Mike Thonney
Cornell University Professor
Ithaca, NY

Send reader letters, with name and address, to BEEF, 7900 International Dr., Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55425; or e-mail beef@primediabusiness.com. BEEF reserves the right to edit for length.