Current Progressive Cattle digital edition


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


Pundits and pontificators are making a big to-do over a couple surveys in the United Kingdom that revealed how stupid the British children are when it comes to the food they eat.

In one survey of 16-year-olds to 23-year-olds, one in 10 thought that eggs come from wheat. In a survey of 1,000 6-year-olds to 8-year-olds in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset (sounds like a law firm) fewer than one in four knew that hamburgers come from cattle.

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I was a child of the ’70s and ’80s and, as such, was subject to the weird fashion trends of the time. I’ve never been too keen on what goes on in the real fashion world, although I did take note when Lady Gaga made headlines with her dress made of steaks.

I don’t believe she’ll be the next Sam Elliot or Matthew McConaughey as the voice of beef, but you know what they say about publicity. As long as they spelled beef right, I’m OK with it.

My lack of genuine fashion sense notwithstanding, I’ve always tried to stay within a couple of years of the latest cowboy and ranch fashion trends.

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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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