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December 2008 Archive for Out to Pasture

RSS By: Steve Cornett, Beef Today

Read the latest blog from Steve Cornett.

Beef goes eau

Dec 19, 2008

You may not think the smell of beef is sexy, and you may not have noticed that Burger King’s mascot dude with the frozen politician’s smile is sexy, but the advertising staff at BK have done their best to get you thinking that way.

They’ve released a spoof body cologne they call “Flame” and describe it in what they mean as a viral campaign thus:    “Behold the scent of seduction with a hint of flame broiled beef.”

I doubt it’s going to sell a bunch of burgers, and I imagine the PETA creatives will find a way to turn it against them and beef in general, but it is pretty funny. They’ve got that happy King stripped to his don’tlooks and spraying whip cream and beckoning to somebody—man, boy or woman, who knows?—and pouring lots of champagne in some woman’s glass.

It’s obviously meant to make fun of those vapid body odor ads so popular the Christmas season and it does a pretty good job of it.

If you’ve got enough bandwidth and/or want to buy some, you can see it


The real “cow tax”

Dec 17, 2008

By Steve Cornett

It looks like the “cow tax” brouhaha was a bit premature, but don’t think there may not be some fire where the smoke seems to have cleared.

The notion of a direct, per head, tax drew plenty of flak from the country. Even Chuck Grassley recognized it as lacking “common sense.” But Obama’s EPA doesn’t have to do a direct carbon tax on cattle. It has other options to increase the cost of production enough to reduce livestock numbers further.

Carol Browner, expected to be named today to head the new administration’s new policy council that is to coordinate climate, environment and energy issues, was hardly a shrinking violet on environmental issues when she served as head of the Clinton EPA.

As the Wall Street Journal noted in an editorial, she is not likely to follow the Bush Administration’s idea of exempting carbon from the Clean Air Act.

If you visit the Ag Web's "Talk Cattle" discussion board, you’ll see that a lot of cattle producers—and, we’d hope, feed producers as well—reacted negatively to the idea of a cow tax. They rightly note that such a tax would drive many producers out of business.
The question is how effective that argument will be against a Carol Browner armed with Michael Pollan’s ruminations about farm policy. Mr. Pollan, you’ll recall, sees cattle production and beef consumption as problems. Running producers out of business and reducing cow herds is exactly what he and his followers want.
They think cattle are a significant producer of greenhouse gases and they think beef consumption adds to health costs.
There is no indication the Obama group will or won’t adopt a direct “cow tax” to achieve that end, but it won’t take a “cow tax.” It will simply take tougher regulations on manure management. If what has always been defined as a “benefit” in cost-benefit analysis can be redefined as part of the “cost” –and that is exactly what Mr. Pollan and the New York

Times think cattle production is—then the industry-regulator relationship could change drastically.
And when it does, you may wish they had simply imposed a $60 or $100 per head tax upfront. What happens may be much harder on your bottom line. 
It’s time for cattle producers who hope to see their businesses stay in operation long term to get involved in their local and national organizations. All that howling about the cow tax turned heads in Washington. But the next move won’t be so obvious, and it will probably have more PR finesse behind it.
You need professional representation, or there is a chance the Obama administration, through folks like Ms. Browner, will be remembered as the era in which cattle went the way of the sheep industry.

Steve Cornett is editor emeritus at Beef Today. You can reach him via e-mail at

This column is part of the Beef Today Cattle Drive e-newsletter, which is delivered to subscribers biweekly and includes beef industry analysis, timely production information as well as the latest beef headline news. Click here to subscribe.


100 carrot beef

Dec 04, 2008
“Producing a pound of beef creates 11 times as much greenhouse gas emission as a pound of chicken and 100 times more than a pound of carrots…”
            We pulled that quote from this morning’s New York Times piece at You should read it
           The cows vs. environment thing is snowballing, and the United Nations is doing its best to get it rolling faster.
            If we were building a nuclear bomb or murdering people in Darfur or Iraq, we wouldn’t have to worry about the U.N. But they’re serious about getting people to eat less meat, and less beef in particular.
            I’ve no idea where it’s going, this issue. But it causes me to fret. I’m not sure what these guys think would happen to all that grass if cows didn’t eat it, but I’m guessing whatever happens to it—whether it burns, rots or gets eaten by non-bovines—it would contribute some greenhouse gas.
            And, not to be indelicate, but don’t we billions of humans have to get our protein somewhere? I wonder if the studies have considered the difference in methane emissions related to vegetarian diets. It’s easy to say that producing 1 pound of beef produces as much  methane as producing 100 pounds of carrots, but I wonder if any of those scientists have ever eaten 100 pounds of carrots to find out how the equation actually ends?.
            I’m not a scientist and I’m not going there. I’m just wondering.
            Just to give cowboys something to worry over, we should consider this in the context of our President 2B’s seeming concurrence with Michael Pollan’s ruminations about food in the U.S. being too plentiful and too cheap. In Mr. Pollan’s view, agriculture burns too much energy and creates too much methane and turns out too many cheap, tempting calories that force American children to get fat and lazy and add to health costs.
            You’ll remember that Mr. Obama told reporters that he found that line of reasoning thoughtful.
            Where we go from here, I don’t predict. But this issue is an issue and beef’s issue management team should be paying it serious attention.
            Oh, no, wait. First they’ve got to do something about imports. That is sooooo much more important.
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