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From the Editor

Read commentary from Progressive Cattle editors, ranging from the origin of specific magazine articles to thoughts about industry trends.

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It was Christmas of 1914, just months after the chain of events that plunged Europe into the bloody conflict of World War I.

A confrontation some leaders had predicted would be a quick and decisive contest between nation-states had evolved into a prolonged war defined by ruthless weaponry and trench warfare.

Historian Stanley Weintraub said the carnage of this war was best embodied in the trenches that scarred the landscape, filled with “lice, rats, barbed wire, fleas, shells, bombs, underground caves, corpses, blood, liquor, mice, cats, artillery, filth, bullets, mortars, fire, steel: That’s what war is. It is the work of the devil.”

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There’s a great story told about Alan Shepard just before his historic Freedom 7 spaceflight in 1961, making him the first American in space with a 15-minute suborbital flight.

After his successful return to Earth, reporters asked Shepard what he was thinking about while sitting in the Redstone rocket and waiting for the final countdown.

“The fact that every part of this ship was built by the low bidder,” he said.

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If you’ve spent the past few years watching your kids or grandkids typing away on Facebook and Twitter, and muttering how such antics are a waste of time, then you’re not alone.

You’re also dead wrong. The days of ignoring social media skills in the ag industry are now gone. And if you insist on remaining ignorant to modern communication, it’s only time before you’ll be gone too.

Marketing and message management have put power into consumers’ hands and with agriculture that war of words is being dictated by our critics.

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To see progress in the beef industry, you have to measure where it was and where it is now.

Twenty years ago, when the National Beef Quality Audit began, the area most in need of improvement was with the product itself. What customers were buying didn’t always equate to a pleasurable dining experience.

Two decades later, those culinary targets are being met more favorably. And as far as the beef audit is concerned, those criteria remain a priority, along with other areas such as food safety, sustainable and ethical production, genetic quality and size of cattle.

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Two major news stories involving the beef industry. Two disturbing labels. One big fat double standard.

It was in early June that the blogosphere erupted upon hearing news that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency uses certain aircraft to survey farms, ranches and feedlots from the air and enforce the Clean Water Act.

Then those initial reports morphed into a new lead – that the government was using unmanned drone planes to do its eye-in-the-sky inspections.

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Spend enough time on the road and you’re bound to rub shoulders with travelers who take a casual interest in your work. Included in that category would be those who outright loathe the product you represent.

Such was my experience on a recent flight to Ohio. After buckling in and exchanging pleasantries with the passenger beside me, I shared that I was a cattle magazine editor. She then promptly replied that she was a devout vegan.

To be quite honest, I could foresee where the discussion was going right from the start. But for the most part we wandered down the conversational path without any rhetorical scrapes.

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