There are six products in the UK labeled for pain in food animals, and none in the U.S., writes “Vet's Opinion” columnist, Mike Apley. In “The future of pain,” on page 12, the DVM acknowledges the production challenges for such treatments in the U.S. but calls for a priority in food-animal, pain-control research. Better to handle the issue in a practical, logical sense, he says, rather than wait for a legislative answer.

“Market Advisor” columnist Harlan Hughes says producers often tell him that one bottleneck to strategic planning of marketing is not knowing which planning prices to use. In “Price forecasting — part 1,” on page 14, the marketing guru and North Dakota State University emeritus professor shares his forecasting and marketing strategy evaluation techniques.

Characterized as the most dramatic change in agriculture since WW II, ethanol has reworked a U.S. beef industry previously driven by cheap feed and energy. The background, fallout and opportunity offered by the phenomenon were the focus of the recent BEEF Quality Summit, and Contributing Editor Wes Ishmael provides the first of an ongoing series of staff reports in “Ethanol Changes Everything” on page 34.

With 2007 logged as a year of high cattle prices shrouded in an atmosphere of uncertainty, 2008 looks to be much the same, writes Larry Stalcup. In “More High Times,” on page 46, he provides an economic outlook for the coming year and reveals that managing risk will be a priority as margins will remain tight for fed cattle, while cow-calf and stocker operators will continue to earn better profits due to tight supplies.

Federal elections loom in 2008, and the priorities of the nation's leaders can make the economy rise and fall, of course. But day in and day out, your profits are more likely affected by laws and regulations passed closer to home. In “Local Politics,” on page 52, business writer Phillip Perry provides a how-to on how you can affect the decisions made by your local politicians that can have a dramatic impact on your business profits.

This month, BEEF magazine launches a new standing column on the last page of each issue. Formerly occupied by “News Closeout,” the new page is entitled BEEF Basics” and each month will examine a foundation issue in beef production and management. Augmenting the short “fact sheet” treatment in the magazine will be a listing of online resources for a fuller look at the issue. Check out the first installment by Clint Peck on page 74.