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Read online content from popular Progressive Cattle columnists including Paul Marchant (Irons in the fire), Lee Pitts (It's the Pitts), Baxter Black (On the edge of common sense) and Yevet Tenney (Just dropping by), plus comments from Progressive Cattle editors.

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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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Russ normally would not have kept the heifer he called “The Pirate,” but he did. It was one of those chilly 5:30 spring mornings in southeast Idaho.

He decided to make a quick heifer check before he got his youngest kid on the school bus at 6:30. Russ slipped into his handy fashion farmwear (sweatpants, heavy long-sleeved T-shirt and slip-on boots) and drove down to the calving pasture.

Dang! Sure enough, there was a heifer down in a low spot, on her back and bloated. Russ stopped the truck and walked over to her.

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Signs of prosperity are starting to show up in cow country, such as ...

No. 10. New wardrobes: At the auction market I saw two old tightwad ranchers wearing blue-blue jeans and walking funny, as if they were stepping on red-hot nails.

What really happened was they bought new Wranglers and their first new boots in 30 years! (They’ll get them broke in about the time the market caves in.)

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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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Back in Timber’s youth he got a job helpin’ gather wild cattle out of the fields of an Arizona cotton farmer.

He and his pardner, Jessie, tried roping them but were unsuccessful. One, the cows only came into the field at night along with the native deer. Two, the horses were not nocturnally trained and wouldn’t get within a rope’s length of the stealthy beasts.

Plan Two involved the use of a tranquilizer gun. The second night our boys arrived ‘loaded for bear,’ as they say, and began stalking their prey.

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