This month, “Market Advisor” columnist Harlan Hughes finishes up his five-part series on how cow-calf producers can make the cattle price cycle work for them. In “4 winning market strategies,” on page 10, the North Dakota State University emeritus professor of economics tells how the net result of such techniques is increased profit over the complete run of the cycle.

An investigation by USDA's Office of Inspector General turned in a sobering report regarding the agency's diligence in protecting producers from anti-competitive practices. In “Failing Grade,” on page 13, contributor Doug McInnis reports on what the probe found, why the situations exist, and what USDA intends to do about its shortcomings in enforcing the Packers & Stockyards Act.

For the ninth year, BEEF magazine has exclusively carried renowned nutritionist and Texas Tech emeritus professor Rod Preston's annual updated compilation of the composition values of 300 feeds commonly fed to cattle and sheep. This year's version, “The 2006 Feed Composition Tables,” appears on page 50.

Rising energy prices affect most any input you can imagine. In the High Plains, where water is pumped from the Ogallala Aquifer to irrigate corn, it's forcing some corn growers to switch to less-thirsty cotton. Larry Stalcup details what that means for cattle feeders in “Energy Reworks The High Plains” on page 68.

Wes Ishmael presents the second installment of his two-part treatment on how to get the most value from your bull-buying dollars this month. In “Bullish Returns,” on page 82, Ishmael says getting the most value in your genetic purchases has as much to do with the people providing those genetics as the genetics themselves.

A discerning operator knows how to critique and interpret data that's presented to support the adoption of a new practice or product, writes this month's “Vet's Opinion” author, Mike Apley. In “Evaluating the evidence,” on page 86, the Kansas State University DVM provides some key tests producers can utilize to determine if a study's conclusion is biased.