I became editor of BEEF magazine almost 12 years ago, taking over from the magazine's patriarch and founding editor, the great Paul Andre. At the first National Cattlemen's Association annual convention I attended after my promotion, I ran into Bill Daniel, a Wentworth, SD, commercial cattle feeder and the father of my friend, Dale.

I remember he greeted me with a handshake and his customary big, beaming smile. He congratulated me and we chatted a bit. Before parting, he took on a more serious tone and said to me: “You have a big responsibility. You speak for the industry now.”

The comment hit me hard because it put in cold perspective the responsibility of my new duties and the potential reach of BEEF magazine. I doubt Bill gave the comment a second thought, but it's one I've always kept in mind and use as a guide in producing monthly editorials and working with the great staff at BEEF.

A powerful pulpit

I'm not egotistical enough to believe that what I write, or what we cover in BEEF magazine, is anything close to the final word on any issue regarding the beef industry. But it does provide a powerful pulpit with which to reach those responsible for producing the majority of U.S. beef cattle. And, as BEEF magazine staff, we respect that privilege.

That BEEF commands attention and respect, I feel, is attested to by the number and fervor of those who correspond with us to register their compliments or complaints. While we receive a lot of supportive messages, the makeup of the correspondence probably tends to tilt more toward the negative. I guess, or I hope, that riled people tend to be more moved to take the time to register their personal opinions.

I don't mind the negative feedback, though. While it's always great to get an “atta boy,” most times it's just as good to hear a different perspective. In my book, almost any feedback is good.

Golden age of feedback

Right now, I believe we are in the Golden Age of feedback. Certainly, the industry and its producers seem to pull into two camps on just about any issue you care to consider.

For instance, we continue to receive numerous notes and letters from readers complimenting us on our coverage of industry issues. At the same time, I can't count the number of times I've received notes and calls regarding those same issues accusing me of being on the payroll of big packers, big feeders, big business, you name it, as long as they're something big.

A few have little compunction about pointing out what they see as my ignorance, lack of character, candlepower, etc. Every once in a long while, someone will offer to give me a physical whupping, though only one person ever0 signed his name to that type of letter. I hereby compliment the man.

To set the record straight, as BEEF editor, I don't work for anyone else beyond my immediate employer. I do, however, consider it my job to provide and articulate what we as a BEEF editorial staff believe beef producers need to know about the industry they're engaged in and the forces and environment with which they must contend.

You may not agree with everything you see and read in BEEF magazine, but you can rest assured we prepare and publish what we feel is in the best interests of beef producers and the U.S beef industry at large, whether or not it runs with the popular emotion of the minute. That includes providing coverage of important industry news and information and — through our editorials — giving seasoned and reasoned opinions on those important issues of the day. Count on it.