Must Reads

“Are there more genetic defects in cattle now than in the past?”

“Not really; it is merely the recognition and reporting that has increased over the years,” says University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign geneticist Jonathan Beever. It's among the questions BEEF Senior Editor Burt Rutherford puts to one the nation's top authorities on genetic defects in cattle in a Q&A entitled “The Lowdown On Genetic Defects,” on page 24.

“Feedyards are still so poor and face enough risk for high feed costs that they really don't want to own those lighter weight feeder cattle. They're looking at 750 lbs. and up.”

That's how Derrell Peel of Oklahoma State University, who helps guide stocker operators puzzled over whether to sell cattle as calves or yearlings, sees the coming months. In “Heavier Is Better,” on page 32, the livestock marketing specialist tells Larry Stalcup that heavier stockers look to corral a better bottom line this year.

“The media's obsession with the beef supply appears to have intensified in inverse proportion to improvements in its safety.”

One way for the beef industry to fight back is to educate the public on what it does and why. In “Open the door” on page 62, Contributing Editor Steve Kay calls for the industry to invite the public into packing plants and onto feedlots and ranches as a step in beginning to explode some of the myths about modern beef production.

Obesity overtakes smoking

Obesity has overtaken smoking as America's biggest health problem. FoodNavigator-usa reports that an analysis of 1993-2008 data from the National Health Interview Survey and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System shows smoking still had a higher mortality risk than obesity, but that by 2008 the obese were losing more quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) through disability and activity limitations. The study examined the relative effects of the two problems on quality of life, mortality and morbidity.

“In 1993 the QALYs lost were much smaller for obesity compared to smoking… However, as a result of the increasing prevalence of obesity, the contribution of obesity-related QALYs lost increased consistently and had increased by 127% in 2008… slightly more than smoking did,” researchers Haomiao Jia of Columbia University and Erica Lubetkin of City College of New York said.

More than a third of the U.S. population is now considered obese, with almost another third considered overweight.

The full research paper is available at

Hot restaurant trends

Locally grown produce will be the hottest trend on U.S. restaurant menus next year, says the National Restaurant Association's annual “What's Hot” survey of more than 1,800 professional chefs.

Locally sourced meats and seafood were voted the second top trend, while chefs rated sustainability the third-hottest trend, bite-sized or mini desserts as fourth, and locally produced wine and beer came in fifth. Nutritionally balanced children's meals were sixth, while downsized portions at reduced prices were seventh. Farm- and estate-branded ingredients were eighth on the list, gluten-free or food allergy-conscious items were ninth, and sustainable seafood was 10th.

Visit the Seedstock Barn

Newsletters prepared by various seedstock providers are valuable sources of information on personal philosophies and herd management. The Seedstock Barn website offers a gathering point for this information via a multi-breed collection of breeder and association newsletters assembled in one convenient location. Visit The Seedstock Barn at to learn what these industry leaders are saying.

Land restoration help

Successfully restoring disturbed lands is the aim of a University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service publication entitled “Successful Restoration of Severely Disturbed Lands: Overview of Critical Components.” Available free of charge at, Publication B-1202 covers seeding and seedbed preparation, topsoil management and amendments, wildlife-habitat considerations and weed control.

HSUS prods Obama

The Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) and the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) want President Obama to appoint an animal protection liaison in the White House. The individual would work with the Cabinet departments, Federal Trade Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and Congress to advance animal protection policies in on “ongoing and sustained way,” the groups say.

HSUS and HSLF also want an additional assistant U.S. attorney to head a new Animal Protection Division in the Justice Department to ensure strong enforcement of federal animal protection laws.

The organizations' agenda outlining 100 immediate steps the Obama administration can take to help animals is available at

Grass-fed notebook

Seeking information on grass-fed beef? The “Grass-Fed Beef Notebook” is a good place to start. Free from the Small Farm Institute at, it's a compilation of information from a series of the workshops funded by a grant from the USDA Ag Marketing Service's Farmers Market Promotion Program. The publication covers the key points in building, creating and marketing desirable grass-fed beef, including identifying opportunities and barriers to raising grass-fed beef, grazing livestock for meat production, direct marketing, processing and added-value cuts, consumer interest and demand, and nutrition and carcass quality.

What bad economy?

Despite a challenging global economy in fiscal 2009, Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) achieved record sales for the third consecutive year. Product sales from Oct. 1, 2008 to Sept. 30, 2009 topped 663 million lbs., eclipsing the previous record set in fiscal 2008 of 634 million lbs., and the 2007 record of 584 million lbs.

Just as significantly, CAB says, monthly sales figures reached new heights — 62 million lbs. in August 2009, while May, June, July and September 2009 also finished among the top 10 months in the brand's 31-year history.

Retail sales represented more than half of CAB sales, with CAB's retail division registering its best year ever with 343.5 million lbs. sold. September was the division's best sales month, surpassing 33 million lbs., and representing the fifth consecutive month that retail partners contributed to sales of more than 30 million lbs.

For more information, visit

Online Poll

Which factor is the most important indicator for boosting beef demand?

  • Unemployment figures
  • Housing/equity markets
  • Competing meats
  • Export growth
  • None of these

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