In the March 2002 Issue, you feature a story on Korean beef being marketed right alongside U.S. beef (“Muscling Into Asia,” page 54). Both labels can be clearly seen in the picture. This is an amazing thing.
The amazing part is that it is being done in Korea, and yet it is deemed too expensive and cumbersome in our own country. Imagine, Korean shoppers can look at a package of meat and know whether that meat came from Korea or the U.S. We have much to learn from such an advanced society as theirs!
Lynn Heinze responds: The Seoul butcher shop pictured in the March issue made a marketing decision to show labeled U.S. and Korean product side-by-side. For years, the Korean government enforced a form of “country-of-origin” labeling and required that domestic and imported beef products be handled and displayed in separate facilities.
This meant that the U.S. did not have access to more than 50,000 small shops that couldn't afford or didn't have the space and labor needed to comply with the law. The law changed in September 2001, and shops can now provide both domestic and imported product and let consumers decide which to buy. The labeling is optional.
In January 2001, the Korean government attempted to apply another country-of-origin labeling plan. It required our government to certify that animals had been raised in the U.S. for at least six months before export.
The U.S. convinced Korea to drop the requirement because the U.S. has no mandated trace-back system. Without it, we couldn't have proven “residency,” and thus we would have been denied access to the Korean market. In 2001, Korea was our No. 3 beef and beef variety meats market, with sales of $386 million.
Lynn R. Heinze
U.S. Meat Export Federation
Regarding your March issue story “The Sage Brush Saga,” page 32, I recall that the sage grouse population in this area was much higher 40 years ago than it is now. There were also many more jackrabbits, few coyotes and much smaller populations of fox, raccoons, skunks and raptors. There has been very little change in grazing numbers except a trend towards more cattle and fewer sheep. Almost no change in habitat has occurred.
I believe the fact that there is almost no market for furs anymore probably has had more to with these changes than any other factor. In the last few years, mange has hit the fox and coyote pretty hard, and I've noticed an increase in the rabbits and birds. We'll wait and see if the sage grouse will make a comeback.
Belle Fourche, SD
You Disrespected George W.
As a marketing director for a college and a beef producer, I have to question your judgment in the March issue coverage of President George W. Bush's visit to the Cattle Industry Convention in Denver. You use the word “Dubya” on the cover and in the article “‘Dubya’ Drops By” on page 42.
The nickname has been used by the national media to imply incompetence. The beef industry must be constantly aware of the public image it projects. Your magazine did not help to promote a positive image for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association or producers by choosing to run these headlines. You have made us all look like we did not really appreciate the president's appearance at the convention or his interest in our industry.
Almabeth Kaess La Junta, CO
DNA And Tenderness
I found the article “Cookie Cutter Quality?” (February, page 44) very interesting and encouraging. Especially interesting was the figure showing allele frequency for various breed types. The relative position of the various breed types is one thing, but the range within breed types is even more interesting.
While this technique is apparently related to marbling and therefore grade, unfortunately marbling is not that well correlated with beef quality. I wonder what the relationship might be between this allele frequency and tenderness? If related, this would be much more significant than any relationship with marbling.
Rod Preston, PhD
Pagosa Springs, CO
Life In the Sage Brush Sea
I read your March issue article about the sage grouse (“The Sage Grouse Saga,” page 32) with interest as I have lived on the family ranch in Wyoming for over 60 years.
I would think that the state game and fish department would have some record of the sage grouse population over the years. As I remember, there was not a season for sage grouse or sage chickens until in the mid 1950s in our area. I can remember that at that time there were not any more sage grouse than there are today.
In the late '40s and '50s, there was a predator control effort by the government — state and federal — to reduce the number of predators. It was after this that the number of game animals and game birds increased.
Then, as these programs were phased out and the predator population increased, the numbers of game animals and sage grouse over the last 10 or 15 years have been declining. In addition, many species of predators have been protected.
Could it be that this is the problem and none of the wildlife experts will admit it, or maybe we are just going through a natural cycle in the wildlife population? If we protect the animals of prey, other species will naturally decline.
As far as livestock grazing having an effect, I find this hard to believe as long as it is properly managed. Like I said, I have seen the complete circle as far as sage grouse numbers in our area.
Medicine Bow, WY
The President's Gate Sign
I enjoyed your March issue stories on President George W. Bush's visit to the Cattle Industry Convention in February (“Dubya Drops By,” page 42). It was a thrill to get to see and hear him. It was amazing that he took time to shake hands and visit after his speech.
Our family wanted to associate our ranch name with the “Beef — It's What's For Dinner®” tagline thinking this might help us promote the beef checkoff in our part of the world. We jumped through all the hoops to get a license from the Beef Board to be able to use the tagline on these personalized gate signs. It was great to furnish one of these signs for our president.
If any readers are curious about personalizing a sign with their name, they can visit our Web site at www.mcdowellranch.com, call 806/663-6666 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pat D. McDowell
Producers Don't Benefit
The only ones truly being helped today (with the checkoff) are the ones we are doing the advertising for — packers and retail meat outlets. Black Angus steaks retail for around $8/lb., but we who sell the feeder calves get 80¢-90¢/lb. All the beef that packers import into this country also reaps the benefits of our advertising dollars. Meanwhile, all the dollars we've invested in improving our cowherds — the vaccination programs that most of us use in our calves — have gone completely uncompensated for.
Why do we never see in beef trade magazines a comparison of past and present prices for trucks, tractors, farm equipment, homes, insurance, taxes, etc., versus livestock prices and farm goods?
It Doesn't Add Up
Regarding Wes Ishmael's March CATTLEconomics column “Captive supply witch hunt” (page 10): If captive supply does not depress prices, explain to me why the packer has consistently been making $50-$125/head over the last couple of years while the feeder has consistently lost as much?
Wes says the packer can pay more for cattle when plants run efficiently and can minimize the cost. If that is so, why haven't they paid more? It's because captive supply gives them excessive market leverage and they don't have to pay more.
Mel Manternach, Monticello, IA
Walt Hackney, Omaha, NE
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