Representatives from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the Nebraska Cattlemen gave an overview of the U.S. beef industry to congressional staff members on Tuesday as part of NCBA's "Beef 101" educational series.
Beef 101 is an educational series for members of Congress and their staff. The program was developed to bridge the knowledge gap between elected officials and the beef industry. The session featured a presentation by University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor Tom Field, Ph.D., who gave a general overview of the U.S. beef industry. Field told roughly 40 attendees that the $220 billion beef industry is largely family-owned, with 97% of beef producers located on family farms, ranches and feedyards.
Field, who runs a family cattle operation in Colorado, explained to attendees the current beef industry is made up of 751,000 beef herds totaling approximately 30 million cows and 26 million feeder calves. He also stated that since the 1970s, the U.S. has lost 43% of cow-calf producers, and that the beef cow inventory is at its lowest number since 1952. This decline even continued during a "relatively high level" of profitability from 1999 to 2011. Drought, land values, input costs, downward turn of the U.S. economy, increasing age of the average cattleman, media and government regulatory overreach are all contributing factors to the decreasing cattle inventory and loss of cow-calf producers.
However, Field emphasized how efficient and skilled U.S. cattlemen and women are, stating that the United States accounts for seven percent of the world's cattle, but provides 20% of global beef production, a number unmatched by any other beef producing country in the world.
"The Beef 101 series is a great way for members of Congress and their staff to learn about the beef industry and get up to speed on current issues affecting cattlemen and women," said Michael Kelsey, Executive Vice President of Nebraska Cattlemen. "More than anything, this series provides an accurate picture of what the beef industry is made of; good, hard-working people."
Nebraska cattlemen Chris Bolte, manager of Bruning Farms, and Travis Sinn, manager of Sinn Ranch, both family-owned farms, each gave a short speech on their respective cattle operations and answered questions from congressional staff.