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COLLEGE STATION – Dr. H. Russell Cross, professor and head of the department of animal science at Texas A&M University, and Dr. Jim McGrann, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service professor emeritus, have been recognized by BEEF magazine as two of the top 50 beef industry leaders in the United States.
The BEEF 50 recognizes industry leaders who have been instrumental in the direction and development of the U.S. beef industry and marks the magazine’s 50th year of publication.
“The final 50 make for an interesting glimpse into the history, drive and resourcefulness of those who built, and are engaged in, this vital industry,” according to the magazine.
Cross’ contributions to the beef industry include some of the most significant food safety measures adopted in the latter half of the 20th century, according to the magazine.
He has 40 years of experience in the food industry, holding or having held numerous positions in government, academia and the private sector.
Cross was the founding director of Texas A&M’s Institute of Food Science and Engineering. In 1994, as head of Texas A&M’s Center for Food Safety, he organized and led an international meat and poultry alliance that applied Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point principles, a food safety protocol that revolutionized meat processing. Soon thereafter, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service began requiring these same principles in all domestic meat and poultry processing plants, along with foreign companies exporting meat to the U.S.
Cross was leader of the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center’s Meat Research Group and served as U.S. Department of Agriculture-Food Safety and Inspection Service administrator from February 1992 to February 1994 under presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Within the private sector, Cross was the CEO and chairman of Future Beef Operations LLC. He served as director of food safety for IDEXX Laboratories. Within National Beef Packing Co., Cross served as executive vice president of Food Safety/Government and Industry Affairs. In addition, he was vice president of DuPont Food Industry Solutions.
Cross has received other industry and academic awards including induction into the Meat Industry Hall of Fame in 2009.
McGrann’s accomplishments in Extension and research as a professor and economist at Texas A&M University led to significant developments and improvements in management information systems, both nationally and internationally, according to the magazine. He is generally regarded as the “godfather of standardized performance analysis (SPA)” which helps ranch managers analyze production and financial data by comparing it to benchmark data in a national database.
He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Washington State University, and a doctorate in agricultural economics from Texas A&M. Prior to joining the Texas A&M faculty, he served with the Peace Corps in Panama, technical assistant programs in Argentina and Uruguay, and the farm management faculty at Iowa State University. McGrann also has professional experience in 21 different beef-producing countries, including eight years in South America.
McGrann has fashioned a career in which he has been extremely influential in developing innovative educational programs focused on production and marketing in the beef industry. He’s a pioneer in developing decision aids and analytical tools for farmers and ranchers, according to the magazine.
His creation of SPA software, which organizes data into meaningful management indicators, was the first major attempt to develop a standardized production and financial analysis for the beef industry. Its application and use have become widespread in standardizing accounting procedures for farms and ranches.
McGrann also was one of the original members of the national Farm Financial Standards Task Force, which developed a set of national financial reporting and analysis guidelines for agricultural producers. He retired from Texas A&M in 2003, becoming vice president of the International Farm Management Association, a private ranch management and economic consultancy, from which he retired in 2011.