The national call for irradiation of ground beef was sounded in editorials in three major U.S. newspapers in early August. USA Today, the Tampa Tribune and the Wall Street Journal joined a growing chorus calling for irradiation of the ground beef supply as a surefire method to eliminate E. coli 0157:H7 contamination.
The USA Today editorial, for instance, criticized efforts by anti-irradiation activists to blunt the widespread use of irradiation, saying: “Expanded irradiation could prevent dozens of deaths and thousands of illnesses every year. Unfounded fears shouldn't stand in the way of giving consumers a burger they can bite into with confidence.”
The editorials come on the heels of ConAgra's recall of 19 million lbs. of ground beef, the second largest in U.S. history. Taken together, the editorials are a strong indication that the widespread application of irradiation will become a reality in the U.S.
Canada reports its first case of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (nvCJD). It's believed the man who died from nvCJD in Saskatoon contracted the disease in the England, where he spent a great deal of time. Canadian health officials have informed 70 patients at the hospital where the victim was treated that a remote possibility exists that contaminated medical equipment was used on them. Canadian officials claim there's no evidence bovine spongiform encephalopathy has entered the food supply.
Forest permit grazing is threatened. The New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association and the New Mexico Public Lands Council are urging a review of the current drought crisis in the Santa Fe National Forest where livestock grazing on U.S. Forest Service (USFS) permit land is in jeopardy.
Ranchers organized a meeting in Washington, D.C., with Under Secretary Mark Rey of USDA's Natural Resources and Environment Division in early August. Earlier, cattle producers with the USFS grazing permits were notified by mail to remove their cattle from the forest due to drought conditions.
The ranchers are urging the USFS to work with them to find alternative measures to assist with the drought conditions. In response to the drought conditions and the removal letter, they're asking for review of the range conditions by a range improvement task force.
USFS will use the task force to make a short-term assessment of range conditions and available forage. Rey says the department also will look at additional options as possible short-term measures to alleviate stress caused by the drought.
Not every scientist buys into global warming. Yet global warming theorists and those advocating that the U.S. sign the Kyoto Protocol like to say that the evidence on global warming is so compelling that no reputable scientist disputes it. They apparently haven't checked out the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine's Web site at www.oism.org/pproject . There, you'll find 17,000 scientists who say global warming is bunk.
Interested in learning firsthand about the Brazilian competitive threat? BEEF and sister magazine Soybean Digest are sponsoring a 14-day trip to the beef and soybean producing regions of this largest South American country.
The Feb. 1-14 trip includes travel in the state of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, as well as stops in Iguazu Falls and Rio de Janeiro. Participants will meet with Brazilian government officials, graziers, growers, packers and agribusiness, as well as visiting various tourist sites.
For more details and the itinerary, go to www.kitt-travel.com/soybeef.htm  or call 800/635-5488, ext. 920.
The 2002 Beef Stocker Profitability Conference is Sept. 20 in Manhattan, KS. The one-day, Kansas State University program is sponsored by Intervet and Walco and offers practical and proactive information and management tips to help stocker operators optimize their operations and prepare for an uncertain future. For more information, contact Lois Schreiner at 785/532-1267 or [email protected] , or check out the full program by going to www.beef-mag.com  and clicking on the “beef stocker usa” button on the opening page.
Regional winners vying for the beef industry's 2003 “No Boundaries” Vision Award include Eugene Gagliardi, PA; Willard Sparks, TN; Marvin Walter, IA; Minnie and Mary Lou Bradley, TX; Roy Moore, CO; David Wood, CA; and Bill Buckner, KS. Sponsored by Ford Motor Co. and the National Cattlemen's Foundation, the national winner will be announced at the 2003 Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show in Nashville, TN, Jan. 29-Feb. 1.
Circle A Ranch, Iberia, MO, received the 2002 Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Outstanding Seedstock Producer Award. Meanwhile, Griffith Seedstock, Wakeeney, KS, received the Commercial Producer of the Year Award. And H.H. “Hop” Dickenson, a 23-year American Hereford Association executive, and Martin Jorgensen of Ideal, SD, won the Pioneer Awards. The awards were given during BIF's recent 34th annual convention in Omaha, NE.
“News Closeout” is compiled by Joe Roybal at [email protected]  or 952/851-4669.