Fast facts: State of U.S. cattle ranching

May 21, 2018

A new report commissioned by The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) compiles data based on interviews with nearly 700 cattle ranchers across the U.S., providing the latest information on the demographics of the beef industry.

“By looking so broadly at how American cattlemen and women run their businesses, we are able to assess not only basic demographics, but management practices and values to help consumers better understand the role farmers and ranchers play in their communities as both beef producers and neighbors,” said Kendal Frazier, NCBA CEO.

Below is some of the information gathered.

How many farms:

More than 700,000 cattle farms, ranches and feedyards exist in the U.S. Livestock grazing takes up 614 million acres, or 27% of U.S. land.

All in the family:

About 80% of farms are family-operated, with less than 1,000 heads of cattle, and 90% are family-owned; 58% of which have been in the same family for at least three generations.

Average age:

The average age of a U.S. cattle producer is 58.

How many beef cattle:

About 93 million beef cattle live in the U.S. For comparison, there are about 326 million people in the country.

Priorities in order:

Cattle health was rated top concern of 95% of interviewees. The same percentage said their practices supported safe food. To 90%, low-stress animal handling practices are part of their management practices. Protecting natural resources and wildlife plays into the management practices of 86% of producers.

You mean lean:

With the population’s growing concern for healthy eating, lean beef is in higher demand, resulting in an estimated 44% reduction in available total fat and a 29% reduction in saturated fat per capita contributed by beef, as calculated from the total beef available in the U.S. on an annual basis.

Community spirit:

Nearly half of all cattle producers are involved with a youth organization such as 4-H. Half have run for local office. Way more vote than the general population: 97%, compared with 64%.

You can read the full report here.