“As the beef community looks to the future, there will be an ongoing focus to not only improve beef as a product and the process in which it’s raised, but also to appreciate and honor the tradition and history associated with this important industry.”
That statement is from the 2017 “Cattlemen’s Stewardship Review (CSR),” funded by the Beef Checkoff. Released in May, the 66-page report is a masterpiece, in my opinion.
Yes, it documents the progress of the cattle and beef business in key areas of consumer concern, such as animal welfare, sustainability and commitment to local communities.
More than anything, though, it tells the compelling story of those who raise cattle and produce beef in a way that should enlighten consumers and make producers rightfully proud. It also underscores how closely aligned industry values and management practices are with consumer demands. Consider these findings:
- Of consumers surveyed, 87% agree that when they make a meal decision at home, it is important the meal is “extremely safe to eat,” and 90% of cattle producers say they understand their management practices affect the safety and quality of beef (up 3% from 2010). Further, 95% of producers say their management practices are consistent with producing safe food.
- More than 100,000 farmers and ranchers are part of the voluntary Beef Quality Assurance program, which influences the health and animal welfare management practices of more than 80% of U.S. cattle.
- In turn, 87% of consumers gave steaks and roasts an A or B grade on safety, up 13% since 2002; ground beef is up 13% at 83%.
- Of consumers answering the survey, 75% say it’s important for the industry to use sound environmental practices — 95% of responding producers say conservation of their land is extremely important to them; 88% manage manure and waste in a way that safeguards air and water; and 86% manage their operations in way that protects the quality of natural resources, including wildlife and biodiversity.
- It’s important for the industry to support their local economies, 62% of consumers feel — 95% of supplies are purchased from the local area in which beef farmers and ranchers live. Nearly half of cattle farmers and ranchers are involved with a youth organization, such as 4-H, FFA, youth sports, or church youth group. More than a third (39%) donate their time to other civic organizations, compared to a national average of 7%.
For that matter, the CSR points out 97% of cattle operations are family-owned. More than half (58%) of cattle operations have been in the same family for three generations or more, with 13% spanning five or more generations; 78% intend to pass their operations on to the next generation.
More broadly, the economic impact of the beef industry is $88.25 billion in farm-gate receipts for cattle and calves. Directly and indirectly, according to the CSR, the beef industry accounts for more than 1.4 million full-time jobs and more than $188 billion in output to the national economy.
Look at the report for both information and encouragement. Share it with anyone who wonders what it is you do in the cattle business, and why.
“We aren’t just farmers and ranchers, but also animal caretakers, nutritionists, small-business owners and environmentalists,” say Jaret Moyer (Moyer Ranch) and Joan Ruskamp (J & S Feedlot) toward the front of the CSR. “Our communities depend on us in many ways to ensure rural economies are vibrant and strong. The people we employ depend on our farms and ranches that ultimately provide for their families … At the end of the day, this is our way of life. We make decisions that contribute to the high-quality beef people love and expect.”