Jim Gerrish, grazing management consultant and educator, joins BEEF magazine as a regular contributor this month. The former director of the University of Missouri's Forage Systems Research Center in Linneaus will alternate each month with our “Vet's Opinion” column by Mike Apley and Mark Hilton. Gerrish's new column, “The Grazier's Page,” appears on page 20.

Producers need to be thinking now about how to identify next spring's calves, writes Wes Ishmael in “Verifying Age Still Takes Records,” page 22. With so much of an animal's value — in the aftermath of the U.S.-Japan beef trade negotiations — potentially riding on it age, it's likely age verification soon will be required.

“Genetic improvement in the cattle business over the past 20-30 years has been nothing short of phenomenal,” writes Clint Peck in “A Genetic Threshold,” page 26. Yet there's still even more “wow” factor ahead due to the emerging discipline of molecular genetics. Learn more about the promise of DNA marker-assisted selection combined with performance-based selection tools like EPDs.

In “Smithfield Beefs Up,” page 30, Bob Finkelstein takes a look at what the world's largest pork processor might have in mind for its beef side. Analysts believe its recent purchase of four ConAgra feed yards could be followed by a push to purchase Swift & Co. The move would make Smithfield second only to Tyson in the beef game.

Canada lost access to U.S. processors for its live cattle 18 months ago. But, in the bargain it found the will to forge its independence from U.S. processing. Lorne McClinton writes in “Canada Pumps Up,” page 64, Canada is determined to escape another border closure catastrophe. In the end, the U.S. could be the loser.

The cattle industry's chief lobbyist, Chandler Keys, left the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) last month to join Swift & Co. Joe Roybal quizzes Keys on his 20-year NCBA stint and what's ahead for him in BEEF Chat,” page 72.