By Ashley Fitzsimmons
May is a month of celebrations. From Mother’s Day to graduations, and for many the first signs of summer start creeping into the weather forecast. All great excuses for us to get outside, uncover the grill and celebrate all that May brings gathered around the patio.
At my house, firing up the grill typically means only one thing…BEEF! So, it’s no surprise that May, the month of outdoor celebrations, is also Beef Month! After all, what other protein lends itself to outside celebrations, warmer weather and family gathering better than beef?
As a fifth generation beef producer, every month was beef month at our house. However, there was always something a little extra sweet about the month of May. April usually brought much needed moisture, the grass was green, the calves were growing and herd bulls were being turned out for spring breeding season. Everything about May reminds me how lucky I am to be part of the beef industry. So, here are some of my favorite fast facts and information to help us celebrate beef month!
1. There are NINE states where cows outnumber people.
These states include: Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa.
As a Wyoming native, a resident Oklahoman and married to a man from Iowa this list makes me smile! There’s no doubt a passion for cattle must have been inborn.
2. In 2016 the US produced approximately 24.91 billion pounds of beef.
Those 24.91 billion pounds came from 30 million cattle harvested across the US in a single year. Shout out to all the cattlemen and women across this great country working tirelessly to keep high quality beef on our plates!
3. As of January 1, 2017 the cattle inventory in the US is up 2%.
Cattle numbers were on the decline for many years due to fires, drought and fluctuation of cattle and commodity prices. However, in 2017 cattle inventories are UP for the first time in several years. The current cattle inventory in the US is 93,584,600 head.
4. The Longhorn breed was the first cattle breed introduced in the US.
Brought into the southwest by the Spaniards in the early 1500’s, Longhorns were the first “beef on the hoof” in the US. Original cattle in the US were multipurpose and served as producers of milk, beef and used for labor.
5. One 3-ounce serving of beef provides 10 essential nutrients.
Beef is an excellent source of protein, we all know. But, it’s also a source of 10 essential nutrients—protein, iron, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, riboflavin, niacin and choline. Moral of the story…don’t feel guilty when you fire up that grill!
6. 98.3% of US cattle operations are family businesses.
We know that only 2% of the US population are directly involved in production agriculture. However, 98.3% of all cattle operations in the US are owned by families, family-held corporations or family partnerships. Without a doubt, families and family values are multi-generational and the backbone of US agriculture.
7. 80% of cattle operations are 25 years in the making.
There’s no doubt that the cattle industry is a family business (98.3% to be exact). Did you also know that 80% of those businesses have been in the same family for more than 25 years? Ten percent of cattle operations have been in the same family for more than 100 years! My own family celebrated 100 years in 2016.
8. 1.4 million jobs in the US are attributed to the beef community.
The beef community directly or indirectly accounts for more than 1.4 million jobs and contributes more than $188 billion in output to the national economy.
9. There are more than 90 certified beef programs in the US.
No matter your breed affiliation or preference, there is a branded beef program to fit your needs and your market. In 2017 the USDA reported more than 90 different certified beef programs across the US. Ranch House is lucky to get to work with some of these programs and the awesome families behind them!
Happy beef month everyone! Get out there and celebrate May (and all year long) with a juicy steak on the grill and good company on the patio.