The checkoff goes Girl Scouting. To familiarize young girls with the importance of beef as part of a healthy diet, the beef industry is distributing a nutrition and physical activity patch program for Junior Girl Scouts (ages 8-11).

The nutrition education program kit awards a patch for completion of the program. To earn it, girls must participate in performing the “Fit For A Princess” play as a community event for senior citizen or other groups. The girls must also choose four other activities from a list that includes cooking, researching regional or family recipes, exercising and other food-related activities that support beef as a great tasting and convenient product or deliver nutrition and physical activity messages.

The youth program focuses on “tweens” — girls ages 8 to 12. This group will be the next generation of mothers and is forming attitudes about food while influencing family food purchases now.

Auction market operators and order buyers now have council status within the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA). The increased presence and voice comes as a result of an NCBA board of directors vote to increase the standing of the Live Cattle Marketing Council, changing its name to the Livestock Marketing Council. Previously, the sector met in tandem with NCBA's Feeder Council.

The new council gives marketers a special site to discuss issues of concern to them and provides the mechanism for them to participate in NCBA's governance. Auction market owner Lemmy Wilson, Newport, TN, says livestock marketers had asked for a direct place of their own within NCBA, “one where they could work to improve demand, improve prices and improve the cattle industry.”

In addition to other benefits, auction markets will be able to receive insurance services through the council's preferred agency of record, as well as other services such as bonding and credit information.

Wilson called the development “a real positive thing for marketing people who are optimistic about the industry.” Besides the services, Wilson says a key benefit to NCBA membership will be networking opportunities with other markets and key customers around the country.

Cows may have helped prove that “therapeutic cloning” can work. Scientists say they used cells derived from cloned cow embryos to grow kidney-like organs that function and are not rejected when implanted into cows. It's the first use of cloning technology to grow personalized, genetically matched organs for transplantation, the Washington Post reports.

While the organs apparently remove toxins from the body and produce urine, it's unknown whether they can perform all the kidneys' tasks. If the approach works in making human kidneys from cloned human embryos, as the Massachusetts team expects, it could dramatically reduce the need for donor kidneys and transplants in the future, experts say.

It's the most important legal precedent ever set in modern times to protect public lands rancher rights. That's the way Frank Duran, president of Stewards of the Range, characterizes Senior Judge Loren Smith's Jan. 29 ruling in Hage v. United States.

The Hages filed their takings claim in 1991 against the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), claiming excessive regulations and physical takings had run them out of business.

“The court specifically rejected the position of the BLM and USFS that ranchers have no property rights on their grazing allotments,” says Hage attorney Ladd Bedford. “The court further stated that if the government's interference with these rights makes it impossible for the rancher to use them, the government will be required to pay compensation for their loss.”

Now, the court will determine whether the plaintiffs' property rights as determined in the court's final decision were taken by the government. If so, compensation will be awarded to the Hages.

“For the first time in history, a federal court has defined the balance between the Western rancher's property rights and the government's ability to regulate,” Bedford says. “This decision is a major step forward for the security of federal lands ranchers.”

The tab for three confirmed cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Japan will be $1.5 billion (U.S.). That's the total Japan's agriculture minister Tsutomu Takebe expects as a result of losses to the farm, retail and restaurant sectors. The three BSE cases all involved Holstein dairy cows over five years old with the first confirmation coming in September 2001.