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Beef Industry: Who We Are

A Family Affair

Cattle and beef production represent the largest single segment of American agriculture. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says more farms are classified as beef cattle operations (31 percent) than any other type of farm. USDA’s 2007 Census of Agriculture classified 687,540 farms as beef cattle operations.

There are more than 1 million beef producers in the United States who are responsible for more than 94 million head of beef cattle.

Most farms and ranches in the United States, including cattle ranches, are family owned and operated. Even the largest farms tend to be family farms. More than 97 percent of beef cattle farms and ranches are classified as family farms. 

    - U.S. cattlemen provide 20 percent of the world’s beef with only 7 percent of the world’s cattle, meaning that they are helping provide valuable nutrients to a growing population both in the United States and abroad.

    - Since 1993, cattlemen have invested $30 million of their beef checkoff dollars in safety improvements. Collaborative beef-industry efforts have helped reduce the incidence of foodborne illnesses, including E. coli O157:H7, which now affects less than one person in 100,000 people.

    - More than 90 percent of feedyard cattle raised in the U.S. today are influenced by Beef Quality Assurance (BQA), a checkoff-funded program that sets guidelines for animal care and handling.

   - Environmental efforts by cattle farmers and ranchers help manage and protect more than 500 million acres of permanent grassland and a variety of wildlife and endangered species.

    - Nearly one-half of cattle farmers and ranchers volunteer with youth organizations and more than one-third donate their time to other civic organizations, compared to a national average of 7 percent of all Americans.

Beef Industry Social Responsibility Report

In response to a growing interest in knowing more about how beef is raised and connect with the beef community, NCBA and the Beef Checkoff generated its first-ever social responsibility report in April 2011, The Cattlemen’s Stewardship Review. The first-of-its-kind look at the values and vision of America’s cattlemen and how they responsibly raise good food and healthy animals, while protecting the environment and building strong communities — all with the end of goal of providing the safest, highest-quality, most consumer-friendly beef in an environmentally and economically sustainable manner in order to feed people around the world.
Download the report
Download the fact sheet

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