A coworker at K-State’s Beef Cattle Institute had me pull together some quick facts about beef production this morning. Many of these are taken from the Master’s of Beef Advocacy program and the web site www.beeffrompasturetoplate.org. I thought I’d share them with you. It’s important to always have a couple talking points ready to discuss key issues in beef production because you never know when the opportunity to make a positive impact for the beef industry will show up.
Today’s American farmer feeds about 144 people worldwide.
Cattle and beef production represent the largest single segment of American agriculture. 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.
Beef production affects the U.S. economy. According to USDA, producers of meat animals in 2008 were responsible for more than $66 billion in added value to the U.S. economy, as measured by their contribution to the national output.
There are 29 cuts of beef that meet government labeling guidelines for lean, including 15 of consumers’ 20 most popular cuts like tenderloin, sirloin and 95% lean ground beef.
Just one 3-ounce serving of beef supplies 51 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for protein, 38 percent of the DV for zinc, and 14 percent of the DV for iron. And it contributes less than 10 percent of calories to a 2,000-calorie diet.
Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide, and beef provides the most readily available and easily absorbed source of iron.
It’s especially important that young children and older adults get sufficient protein. Children need the high-quality protein, iron and zinc in beef in order to develop their minds, as well as their bodies. Older adults can benefit from the protein in beef to help prevent loss of muscle mass and strength as they age.
Animal care and raising cattle go hand-in-hand. Producers know that giving animals the proper care, handling and nutrition they deserve is the right thing to do and it makes good business sense.
The Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program was initiated in 1987 to provide cattle producers with the tools and training necessary to assure animal health and well-being as well as provide a safe, quality product. BQA principals influence the management practices of more than 90 percent of cattle in the United States.
The “Producer Code for Cattle Care,” first developed in 1996, reinforces the industry’s strong stance against animal cruelty or neglect. It contains a comprehensive set of sound production practices and states that “persons who willfully mistreat animals will not be tolerated.” In addition, producer leaders worked with animal health and wellbeing experts to develop the “Guidelines for Care and Handling of Beef Cattle,” which are endorsed by the Academy of Veterinary Consultants and the American Association of Bovine Practitioners as well as the Food Marketing Institute and National Council of Chain Restaurants.
America’s cattle farmers and ranchers are committed to leaving the environment in better shape for the next generation. Preserving, conserving and restoring this country’s natural resources like open space, grasslands, wetlands, clean air and wildlife habitat are extremely important to agriculturists.
Approximately 85 percent of U.S. grazing lands are unsuitable for producing crops. Grazing animals on this land more than doubles the area that can be used to produce food.
Animal agriculture contributes minimally to the production of total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. According to EPA, the entire U.S. agricultural sector contributes just 6.4 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Beef producers have invested 27 million dollars in beef safety research through the beef checkoff since 1993 and, collectively, the industry invests $350 million each year in safety research, technology and practices.
Consumers play a very important role when it comes to food safety. Using an instant-read thermometer to make sure ground beef is cooked to 160 F is the best way to ensure burgers are safe and savory.