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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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The beef industry may be stricken with its occasional three-alarm crises, be they in the form of pink slime, animal rights activists or the return of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, but the bones of every cattleman are steeled with fiery survival.

Few other professions handle natural or fabricated challenges quite like the men and women in the beef industry, where “taking the bull by the horns” is more than a descriptive idiom, but a practical routine in ranch life.

But as well equipped as today’s rancher may be for the daily grind, it’s more apparent each year that the industry’s future is at risk.

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The beef industry’s aggressive push to defend finely textured lean beef in the aftermath of “pink slime” reporting is completely warranted, even if it comes a day late and a dollar short.

We could certainly blame social media, slipshod reporting or an uninformed consumer base. But that would ignore a fundamental modern-day reality.

The uproar over lean trimmings in ground beef shows, yet again, that a seismic shift has hit the marketplace.

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Sometime in the coming weeks, you can expect to hear that Japan will raise the age limit on U.S. cattle processed for beef imports from 20 months to 30 months.

The policy change, which officials started planning for in December, represents a major turn for the U.S. beef industry and its long saga to recover from the December 2003 BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) crisis.

The mad cow scare that crippled U.S. beef exports forced producers, government officials and trade experts to work through a four-year slog that crippled the industry. It also taught those same folks a few lessons as well.

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If you’re one of the thousands of cattlemen or beef industry allies who attended the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association meetings in Nashville, Tennessee, last month, it’s obvious you were in good company.

The Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show pulled in a record attendance of 8,216 participants, topping a record set back in 1998, which was just less than 7,000, according to NCBA.

Too bad the folks at Yahoo! weren’t in the crowd. They would have been treated to an old-school eye-opener.

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I’ve always been kind of a data junky, especially with surveys. While in college, I worked at a marketing company that did surveys across several states on consumer feedback and political opinions.

The company built a solid track record for being able to call state political elections based on the responses of a few hundred people.

That’s one reason I was more than curious to see the results of Progressive Cattleman’s initial reader survey last year.

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Government is too big. Taxes are too high. And the private sector is the best resource for developing jobs and innovation.

There, I said ’em. Three of the biggest assertions you’ll hear over the next several months while listening to candidates running for Congress and the White House in 2012.

Truth be told, I can’t fault politicians and policy wonks for throwing out those haymakers. Heck, I’m probably one of the biggest advocates for keeping government excess in check.

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