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Beefing Up the Cattle Industry

Nifa Author
Rachel Dotson, Public Affairs Specialist (Social Media)

May is National Beef Month. As of January 1, there were 91.9 million head of cattle and calves on farms in the United States. In 2021, cattle production was forecasted to represent about 17% of the $391 billion in total cash receipts for agricultural commodities, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service.

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) works with Land-grant Universities to ensure those involved in the beef industry have access to reliable data and information to help make informed marketing decisions. From research dedicated to enhancing herd health to programs educating farmers and ranchers on various marketing opportunities, read how NIFA-funded research is helping support cattle producers, feeders and processors across the nation.  

United States consumers are very concerned about the safety and wholesomeness of the food they eat. Through formal training involving Virginia Cooperative Extension specialists, agents and industry partners, the Virginia Beef Quality Assurance Program (BQA) educates and certifies beef producers in best management practices that improve the safety and quality of beef. The total number of certified producers in Virginia stands at 7,068, which makes Virginia one of the national leaders in BQA activities. During 2018 there were 639 producers, either certified or recertified. Added value of cattle produced on BQA certified farms is estimated to be $1.5 million to 2 million annually.

University of Hawaii at Manoa researchers are developing decision support tools that will allow Hawaii beef producers to objectively evaluate production costs across different production models, potential profit margins for different marketing alternatives, and assess and manage production and market-related risk factors. The project will utilize data compiled from University of Hawaii-Manoa studies into grass-finish beef carcass quality and pasture management to derive different potential production model choices along with data collected from cooperating producers through surveys and interviews to determine production costs. 

The COVID-19 pandemic brought to the forefront the need for small, local meat lockers as consumers faced shortages of meat in the grocery stores due to large packing facilities shutdown. South Dakota State University is working to help small processors to meet this consumer demand. This project will aid producers in the upper Midwest navigate the requirements of establishing and operating small processing facilities.

Farm Bill Priority Areas
Animal health and production and animal products
U.S. States and Territories
Hawaii,
South Dakota,
Virginia
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