SIC 0212

This classification covers establishments primarily engaged in the production or feeding of beef cattle, except feedlots. Establishments primarily engaged in raising dairy cattle are classified in SIC 0241: Dairy Farms.

NAICS Code(s)

112111 (Beef Cattle Ranching and Farming)

Industry Snapshot

In 2002 there were over 96.7 million head of cattle in the United States, down from 103.5 million in 1998. Total value of all herds for 2002 was $72.2 billion. There were 1.05 million independently owned farms and ranches producing beef cattle for breeding and for feeding in the United States at the beginning of 2002. Although dairy farmers produce 20 percent of the beef in this country, that beef is largely a by-product of the milk business and is not included in this industry classification. This category includes all activities of ranchers or beef farmers up to the time their cattle are sent to the feedlot. Issues regarding the operation and management of feed-lots are discussed in SIC 0211: Beef Cattle Feedlots.

Texas had the largest number of cattle in 2002, with 13.6 million head. Kansas and Nebraska followed with 6.7 million and 6.6 million head, respectively. Of the total number of beef cows, 11.7 million were housed in confined feedlots with over 1,000-head capacity.

The sale of cattle and calves is the largest segment of the American agricultural economy, which in turn comprises 16 percent of the gross national product. Moreover, sales of cattle and calves account for almost one-fifth of the country's farm and ranch cash receipts. Beef cattle are one of the few agricultural commodities produced in all 50 states, and the industry comprises more than 1 million businesses.

Beef has been central to America's dining habits for a long time. Recently, however, poultry has made great strides in eroding that primacy. Much of poultry's popularity has been attributed to lower prices and low fat content. The beef industry has worked hard to produce and promote a leaner product, and cites that one-third of all Americans have eaten some type of ground beef in the past 24 hours. Despite the many advances of the poultry industry, beef surpasses its competitors in both production and sales.

The United States is the largest producer of beef products in the world, although it ranks fourth in total number of beef animals. This high production rate is made possible by the high efficiency of U.S. producers. The United States is the third largest exporter of beef in the world. It is also the largest importer of beef, particularly of ground beef in frozen form. Despite a recent drop in annual beef consumption, U.S. per capita beef consumption ranks third in the world.

Organization and Structure

Because a vast amount of acreage is needed to support beef cows, cattlemen own or manage more land than any other single industry. In the meadows of Montana or the irrigated pastures of California, one acre of land supports a cow and her calf for an entire year. In the deserts of the Southwest, however, an entire section of land, or 640 acres, can support only a handful of cows.

More than 1.2 billion acres of this country are considered agricultural lands by the USDA; this comprises approximately 50 percent of the United States and twothirds of the contiguous states. Though two-thirds of this land is considered to be grazing land, 90 percent of it is unsuitable for growing commercial crops because of limited rainfall, steep slopes, rocky terrain, or poor soil. Thus, the land can only be used for pasturing beef cattle, sheep, goats, bison, horses, and wild animals.

These grazing lands are ideal for cattle, because the cattle can convert grass and other forages into high-protein food sources. The typical beef cow does not spend a single day in a cattle fattening feedlot, but instead lives on grass and hay her entire life, being retained for breeding and nursing. Her offspring may be fattened in a feedlot for 20 percent of their lives, or her female offspring may be kept as replacement females. A typical range cow loses her productivity between the ages of 8 and 10 and must be replaced.

The cow is like a factory for the beef industry: she generates more cattle. Beef cows have a nine-month gestation period and usually give birth to a single calf either in the fall or the spring. These calves are called "commercial" cattle as opposed to "purebreds," which are born from both a sire and dame of purebred ancestry. The majority of calves in this country are born in the spring and sold in the fall. The average calf weighs between 80 and 85 pounds at birth and lives on a diet of grass and its mother's milk. The calves run beside their mothers until they are weaned, which usually occurs when the calves are between six and eight months old. At this age, the calves usually weigh between 500 and 550 pounds, though there are significant variations due to management and feed conditions.

While they are still running alongside their mothers, the calves are gathered or rounded up much like they were in the early days of ranching. The calves are then branded by their owners and vaccinated for a variety of diseases. Bull calves are altered or castrated, at which time they are called steers. Steering a bull prevents fighting, accidental breeding with cows and heifer calves, and allows for easier management.

Before the calves are weaned, bulls are turned in with the cows to breed them. Normally, between 80 and 90 percent of the cowherd will be bred successfully. Those cows that don't conceive are referred to as "open" and are sold for beef. The bulls that are used are usually purebred cattle in which multigeneration pedigrees have been maintained by a breed association. These bulls are produced by purebred breeders, whose sole intent is to provide seedstock for the commercial beef cattle producer. These purebred producers test their cattle for weight gain and meat quality, and keep extensive records on their pedigreed livestock. When commercial producers subsequently purchase bulls in the spring or fall of the year, they are aided by a pedigree and by computerized records that indicate how a particular sire's offspring might perform. The price of these commercial bulls usually ranges from $1,500 to $4,000, while the purebred sire that was used to produce them might cost upwards of $20,000. It is not uncommon for a particularly good purebred bull to be syndicated for several hundred thousand dollars or to be purchased by a bull stud. The use of artificial insemination and embryo transfer has become commonplace in the beef cattle industry and has made it possible to use genetics from the best cows to produce several offspring per year instead of a single calf.

When the calves are ready for weaning, they can be sold through an auction market or over a satellite video hookup known as a satellite auction. They may also be traded in-country by an order buyer, or the cattlemen may prefer to retain ownership. The calves are then run as "stockers." Stockers go back to feeding on grass, until the time they weigh approximately 800 pounds. Other weaned calves may go straight into the feedlot for the final finishing stage and skip the stocker stage completely. As cattlemen continue to improve the genetics in their herds, many calves are weaning in excess of 650 pounds and reaching a finished weight of 1,250 pounds in the feedlot, when they're just over one year old.

Many ranchers consider themselves nothing more than grass farmers. Their job is to convert grass to beef as efficiently as possible. Cattle spend between 80 and 100 percent of their lives on grazing lands and have played a role in sustainable agricultural systems for centuries. Their manure and urine naturally fertilize the grasslands, and their hoofing action breaks up the crust of the soil. When they are run in the proper manner without overgrazing, cattle play a key role in maintaining soil productivity and keeping forages in a healthy condition. These forages in turn protect soil from wind and water erosion, and leguminous forages, such as alfalfa, add nitrogen to the soil.

While per capita consumption decreased during the 1980s and 1990s, and beef lost market share to poultry, the industry experienced one of the most prolonged profitable periods in its history. This is probably due to the fact that hundreds of thousands of beef producers left the industry during the last downturn in the cattle market. Several factors have been responsible for the decline in beef consumption since 1986.

Competing Meats. Per capita annual boneless beef consumption in the United States stood at 64.7 pounds in 1998. This was down considerably from 1975, when per capita consumption peaked at 95 pounds, yet per capita consumption stabilized in the 1990s. With ebbs and flows, consumption levels have remained at 62 to 65 pounds, signaling that major declines may be over.

A combination of factors contributed to beef's decline in the late 1980s. Competition from competing meats got the attention of beef producers, as poultry challenged beef's position as "The King of Meats." In the early 1990s, the poultry industry proudly announced that more chicken was consumed per person in this country than beef. This was the first time in the industry's history that beef was displaced as the most consumed meat in the country, in terms of poundage. Cattlemen like to point out, however, that beef at the retail level is a 94 percent boneless product, while chicken is only 69 percent boneless. On an edible meat basis, therefore, Americans still eat more beef—64.7 pounds versus 49.2 pounds of chicken in 1998. On a dollar basis the difference is more dramatic. Americans spent $187.91 per person on beef in 1998 compared with $125.16 on pork and $112.50 on chicken. As the largest dollar volume item sold in grocery stores, beef represents more than 6 percent of all grocery store sales. It is estimated that in 1999, Americans consumed 36.5 pounds of beef cuts compared to 27.7 pounds of ground beef.

However, beef producers were still concerned about beef's declining market share. In the late 1980s, for example, cattlemen began to voluntarily assess themselves one dollar per head every time a beef animal was sold and pooled these proceeds toward advertising, research, and education. Much of that money was spent on finding better ways to compete with poultry and seafood.

The War on Fat. After experiencing decades of adulation from the public, the beef industry faced a host of new problems and new adversaries beginning in the early 1980s. The cattle industry was unaccustomed and unprepared for this avalanche of negative publicity. First there was the "war on fat." A Gallup poll in the early 1990s determined that the top dietary concern among consumers was the amount of fat in their food. This caught the beef cattle industry off guard.

American cattle differ from most beef animals produced in the world because they are grain fed. This grain finishing period, which usually lasts around 100 days, is unique to this country. It makes for a better tasting piece of beef, but it also increases the amount of fat in the beef carcass. In surveys of American beef consumers, taste remains the number one reason why they select beef over competing meats. This taste is achieved by intermuscular marbling, the tiny flecks of fat visible to the eye in steaks and roasts. This marbling is what gives beef its flavor and is one of the main criteria used in determining the grade and the price of beef.

Because of the manner in which beef animals distribute fat, intermuscular marbling is the last place where fat is deposited. Before the fat is distributed as intermuscular marbling, it is first deposited on the outside of the animal, visible to the consumer as the outer rind of fat on a piece of steak. Studies sponsored by the Meat Board estimated that the beef industry was producing 2,825 truckloads of fat at 40,000 pounds per load annually. This inefficient production of fat was costing all segments of the industry $4 billion annually. This figure, however, still does not represent the loss of per capita consumption that may have been attributable to fatty beef.

Faced with this dilemma, the beef industry declared its own war on fat. Due largely to a program sponsored by commercial beef producers, retailers have reduced the amount of external fat on meat cuts by 27 percent. The fat rind on most cuts is trimmed to one-quarter and even one-eighth of an inch. In some cuts, the fat trim is completely removed.

Commercial cattle producers have also responded by using new genetic enhancements on their cattle. Throughout its history, the U.S. beef industry has relied largely on three breeds of cattle—Angus, Hereford, and Shorthorn. These breeds were of English descent and were introduced to this country when pioneer cattlemen wanted to improve the degree of muscling found in Longhorn cattle.

In their quest to find faster growing and leaner breeds, cattlemen looked to Europe for new genetics, and since the 1960s there has been a constant parade of new breeds of beef cattle into the United States. Beginning with the Charolais from France, it is estimated that there have been over 76 different breeds of beef cattle introduced into the United States. Some of these breeds, such as the Charolais, Simmental, and Limousin have made major contributions to the beef industry, while many others were quickly discarded. These breeds from Europe became known as the "Continental Breeds" or "Exotics." Although they have not displaced Angus and Hereford as the most popular beef breeds, they are quite commonplace in crossbreeding programs.

It has become the norm in the beef industry to blend the genetics from two or three breeds for maximum heterosis or hybrid vigor. This results in faster growth, increased disease tolerance, and leaner beef. A cattleman, for example, might breed a Hereford bull with an Angus cow and then cross the resulting crossbred female with an exotic breed. Such crosses have become extremely popular and have helped reduce fat.

As fat content has decreased, some critics argue that the flavor of beef has suffered. Consequently, beef producers are faced with the challenge of producing animals whose meat has the taste Americans prefer without the fat.

Value Added Products. Beef is still largely sold as a generic product in retail grocery stores, whereas chicken and pork are often sold as "branded" products with fancy packaging and attractive labels. The beef industry has struggled with the concept, launching many private label brands with little success. However, the meat packing industry is concentrated in the hands of three major packers who have shown a reluctance to enter the branded meat business. This factor has also contributed to the decrease in the per capita consumption of beef.

Several breed associations have attempted to market a branded product with their breed name on the package. In many cases they have backed up the labels with extensive advertising programs. Many exotic breeds attempted to market "lite" beef with fewer calories and less fat. Other companies have introduced organic and "natural" beef products. Of the more than 200 companies that have tried to discover and exploit such niche markets, less than a dozen remained in business in the 1990s. The industry continues to search for ways to successfully brand beef, seeing it as a way to increase sales.

The most successful branded product has been Certified Angus Beef. This brand features highly marbled Angus beef. A great deal of effort goes into selling Angus beef carcasses to restaurants and high-end retail stores.

Beef Safety. Throughout the 1990s beef producers faced a challenge from outbreaks of a strain of E. coli. Ground beef is the product most affected by the bacteria, as E. coli do not penetrate the inner muscling of steaks and roasts, and are easily destroyed when the outside meat is heated, seared, or barbecued. The safety hazard occurs when the E. coli are ground up with the hamburger, and the meat is not cooked at temperatures high enough to destroy the bacteria. The E. coli incidents were thought to be a problem with culled beef and dairy cows that are ground for hamburger. These outbreaks caused new labeling laws on meat products that urged consumers to follow proper cooking instructions and not to eat rare hamburger. New studies on irradiation and acid rinses of beef carcasses were also implemented. The USDA insists that despite the E. coli incidents beef remains a very safe food. In 1996 President Clinton announced a new, expanded meat inspection program that required the participation of the private sector as well as the USDA. The USDA implemented the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system to replace the look-touch-smell system that began in 1907. The new system also requires companies to use antimicrobial chemical sprays and irradiation to combat meat contamination hazards; to determine where in the production process contamination takes place and prevent it from occurring; and to submit samples to the USDA.

Concern for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), popularized as "Mad Cow Disease," came to a head in the 1990s, as producers in the United Kingdom continuously found escalating numbers of afflicted cattle throughout the country. BSE is a fatal disease that affects the central nervous system of cattle. The USDA estimated that 171,000 head of cattle were diagnosed with BSE in Great Britain between 1986 to 1998. Several other European countries reported indigenous cases of BSE. During the past 10 years, the USDA BSE Working Group has taken aggressive measures to prevent BSE from entering the United States. Additionally, the U.S. government and the USDA have conducted studies showing that no cases of BSE exist in the United States. As a precautionary measure, the United States does not import cattle from countries with reported cases of BSE. Moreover, many scientists contend that the disease is not transmissible through an infected cow's meat or through physical contact.

The industry has long been haunted by critics, consumers as well as researchers, who object to the use of hormones in modern day beef production. Although the hormones occur naturally and are administered in small doses, the critics say that they pose health risks. The debate will likely intensify as new biotech products, such as BST, are introduced. These hormones produce meat and milk more efficiently and with less fat. Companies that have attempted to market such hormone-free products have not fared well economically.

Challenges to the Industry. Beef cattle producers have been facing an increasing number of challenges from environmentalists. Although cattle ranchers consider themselves "the original environmentalists," they are facing increasing federal environmental regulations involving endangered species and wetlands protection. As the largest private landowners in the country, ranchers are most affected by laws that restrict the rights of private property owners. Such issues have begun to overshadow diet and health concerns. Because the cattle business provides the primary livelihood for thousands of small communities, the resolution of such environmental issues as endangered species and wetlands protection is of vital importance.

Some environmental groups have questioned the amount of grazing land devoted to the cattle industry. Buffalo grazing developed our nation's grasslands. Beef cattle replaced the buffalo, and in the early years of the industry some abuses existed, when rangeland was free for the taking and there were no fences. Cattle barons ran as many cattle as they could, and during years with inadequate rainfall some rangelands deteriorated. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the overall condition of the national rangelands, both public and private, has improved during the past 50 years. Eighty-seven percent of this land is considered "stable or improving." However, the National Resources Conservation Service of the USDA considers only 39 percent of rangelands to have no serious resource problems. They hoped to increase this to 45 percent by the year 2002.

Although there is no government price support program for beef cattle, the government does operate a Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), whereby cattle producers and farmers are paid to keep previously farmed or marginal lands out of production for 10 years. Since 1980, 45 percent of cattle producers have participated in some form of government conservation program. During the same period, 64 percent have participated in private conservation programs, such as rotational grazing and range management systems. Range science concepts are relatively new and have only been put into practice since the 1960s. New ideas are emerging almost daily as to how beef cattle can best be integrated into an environment that also accommodates wildlife and growing numbers of people.

The beef cattle industry faced many other challenges during the 1990s. Although vegetarianism has remained relatively stable at about 3 percent of the population, an increasing number of people are occasionally eating vegetarian dinners. Although beef is a nutrient-dense food with a caloric content similar to that of chicken, it is generally not perceived as such by a large part of the general population. Health care and nutritional experts recognize, however, that beef can be part of a well-balanced diet because it is a good source of iron, zinc, and vitamin B-12.

Exports. Although there were difficulties in marketing beef during the 1980s and 1990s, there have also been some stunning success stories. The most economically significant success for the industry has been the increased demand for American beef internationally. The United States produced 24.9 percent of the world's beef supply in the 1990s, with exports representing 9 percent of the value of all U.S. beef production. From 1981 to 1998, export values increased from $1.9 billion to $4.4 billion. It is estimated that between 10 and 12 percent of the value of every steer produced domestically comes from the added demand created by the export market. Consequently, the National Cattlemen's Association was very much in favor of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), because Mexico is a growing market for American beef. Exports to Mexico increased nearly 47 percent during 1994, the first year of NAFTA. This was followed by a brief downturn with the devaluation of the Mexican Peso, but rebounded by the end of the decade. NAFTA has been criticized for contributing to lower domestic cattle prices in the face of foreign imports, in spite of the fact that NAFTA did not change the regulations on cattle imports. Beef exports also suffered somewhat due to the slowdown in the Asian economy, and are down from a high of $5.3 billion in 1995. In 1999, 82.7 percent of exports went to Japan, Mexico, Canada, and the Republic of South Korea. European markets are less receptive to U.S. beef, which has been treated with hormones. Despite these slowdowns, exports significantly exceed imports, and there continues to be a strong export market for U.S. beef and by-products.

Current Conditions

All fresh retail beef prices averaged 304.0 cents per pounds at the beginning of 2002. Average retail price during 2001 was 299.7 cents per pounds. In 2002 Americans consumed 231.3 pounds of meat per capita. Of that total, beef accounted for 67.7 pounds, or 29.3 percent of American meat intake. This represents the fourth consecutive year of decline in the consumer's choice of beef. Red meat accounted for 42 percent, 36 percent, and 30 percent during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, respectively.

The average beef cattle price per 100 pounds in 2000 was $69.52 for steers (heifer prices vary slightly). Prices during the 1990s ranged from a decade high of $76.23 in 1993 to a decade low of $70.06 in 1998. Prices climbed into the mid-$70s during 2002, but demand was reduced, so overall sales were flat. Traditionally, beef prices increase in the spring and early summer months, as retailers prepare to stock up for the "grilling-out" season.

Beef cattle weights have increased substantially in the recent past, so that the amount of beef processed has grown, even though the number of cattle slaughtered has declined slightly. According to Rich Pottorff of Agri Marketing, "Cattle weights have been increasing for years, but the increases have been especially large in the last couple of years. Through the first half of this year, cattle dressed weights are almost 30 pounds heavier than in 2001. This results in a 4 percent increase in beef production with essentially no increase in slaughter."

The beef cattle industry experienced a downturn after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, primarily because consumers cut down on eating out. The erosion of the beef market continued into 2002. The industry was also negatively affected by the discovery of mad cow disease in Japan, which is the largest importer of U.S. beef. Year-on-year cattle prices were down 10 percent between 2001 and 2002. Significant drought in the West left pasture land in poor shape, suggesting that it would be some time before ranchers would restock their herds.


The largest cattle ranch in the United States is the family-owned King Ranch in Texas. While much of the West was settled by large ranchers with investor money from England, today the American cattle industry is largely made up of small, family producers. In 1996, 79.8 percent of U.S. beef operations had less than 50 head of cattle. The King Ranch's herd of 60,000 reveals the extremes in the modern day beef industry.

Approximately 98 percent of all American cattle producers are considered small or midsize (less than 500 cattle) by the National Cattlemen's Association. These ranchers raise the majority of the nation's beef cattle, accounting for 86 percent in 1996. While the cattle feeding and meat packing industries continue to become more concentrated in the hands of fewer and larger corporations, the beef cow herds remain in the hands of small or midsize producers. Cattle are also raised as a sideline, a hobby, or in conjunction with a farming operation. In addition, they are often used to consume what is left after crops have been harvested.

The work on a typical ranch varies with the season. In winter, when grass is dormant or covered with snow, the cattle must be fed hay. Ranchers usually grow and store this hay in the summer, but some ranchers purchase their hay. In the spring and summer, cattle are branded and worked; this requires hiring more hands. Several ranches share cowboys during these roundups. One of the more difficult chores comes at calving time, when cowboys routinely check the cows and heifers. Heifers are females that have not yet had a calf and usually have much more difficulty calving than an aged cow. A cowboy must often assist heifers in the birthing process.

In Nevada, male and female ranch workers are referred to as buckaroos, in Texas they may be called cowpunchers, and in Montana they are cowboys. Though they are referred to by a variety of names, these workers generally perform the same duties and receive a fairly low wage for their work. Typically they are given a house, a ration of beef per year, a pickup truck, and a monthly salary that ranges from $650 to $2,000. The National Cattlemen's Association estimates that the industry produces about 186,000 full-time jobs.

The beef cattle industry is steeped in tradition. For example, 42 percent of U.S. beef cattle operations with more than 100 head of cattle have been in the same family for over 50 years, and 21 percent have been in the same family for 75 years. Many of these firms are known by the brand they give their cattle, such as the Pitchfork or the Four Sixes. The latter brand is simply 6666, which is said to be the poker hand the founder of the ranch was holding when he won the ranch.

While being a cowboy used to be a romantic notion, far fewer young men and women had aspirations of becoming cowboys in the 1990s. It is projected that the need for cowboys will continue to decline through 2006. The production of beef remains high, but this is due more to the increased weight of animals than to larger herds.

There are several barriers to entry into this industry. It is difficult to find a ranch in America today that will be profitable. Ranches are often priced according to cow/calf unit, which is the amount of land necessary to run a cow and her calf for one year. This calculation is used to figure the carrying capacity of the land. Typically a ranch today sells for $1,500 to as high as $3,000 per cow/calf unit.

Many ranches were up for sale in the 1990s, and a lot of them had federal land-grazing permits. Most eastern cattle ranches are composed entirely of "deeded land." In the West, however, the government owns sizable amounts of land in each state. For example, the federal government owns 86 percent of Nevada, 52 percent of Oregon, 49 percent of California, 64 percent of Idaho, 67 percent of Utah, 49 percent of Wyoming, and 41 percent of Arizona. This land has traditionally been rented to public lands ranchers who run their cattle part of the year on these marginal lands. These ranchers own small deeded ranches and use much of the farming land for hay production. The deeded acreage is usually surrounded by large blocks of federal land. Ranchers often lease this ground from the federal government as a means of supplying cattle with water. The rancher is responsible for maintaining fences and overseeing the property. These lands are governed under a multiple-use concept, which means that other citizens can use the lands as well. However, Congress has attempted to increase the land rent and put constraints on the public lands ranchers.

Research and Technology

There were about 100 million cattle in the United States during the 1990s, and the industry was producing as much beef as it did in the 1970s, when its cattle inventory numbered 120 million. Such efficiency has been made possible by the use of technology—new breeds, computerization, and increased mechanization. Output per man hour in agriculture has increased twice as fast as that in manufacturing industries. American beef cattle producers are producing nearly 25 percent of the world's beef supply with just 10 percent of the world's cattle population. Other countries have been unable to match U.S. efficiency standards. For example, prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union, they had nearly 20 percent more cattle than the United States but produced 20 percent less beef.

The use of production testing and artificial insemination has made it possible to use the best genetics the industry has to offer. Fertilized eggs from superior producing cows are being flushed and then implanted in lower quality recipient cows, so that their offspring will have highly predictable traits for growth and meat quality. In effect, the recipient cow acts as a surrogate mother for a calf that carries none of her genes.

Breed associations keep extensive computer records, and the use of "Expected Progeny Differences" has made it possible for a rancher to select his cattle using statistical analysis.

Money from ranchers' voluntary dollar per head assessment is being pooled and used to map the genes of beef cattle. It is expected that such research will allow future ranchers to implant genes for tenderness, marbling, or any number of economically important beef cattle traits.

Quality control became the watchword of the industry in the 1990s. The beef cattle industry initiated its own Beef Quality Assurance program to assure consumers that beef is a wholesome food. Beef Quality Assurance programs have been sponsored by 41 states, which account for 98 percent of all cattle marketed. Additionally, the Pathogen Reduction Act of 1996 required the industry to update its inspection methods, which had changed little in the previous 50 years. During 1996 to 1999 the new inspection methods were put into effect. As of January 20, 2000, all raw meat and poultry products were being inspected using methods capable of detecting invisible pathogens.

Microchips and scanners are being tested as a means to maintain cattle identification. For instance, a calf could be implanted with an identification chip at birth, and when that animal's carcass is hung on the rail, the chip could be scanned, and the individual could be traced back to its original owner. The chip could also reveal vaccination records, pedigree information, and feedlot data. Such information would allow the industry to identify superior producing animals and weed out those of poorer quality.

Further Reading

Beef Today Magazine. Available from .

BeefNutrition Web Site. Available from .

"Cattle Tops, But No Need to Panic Over Beef." Successful Farming, April 2003, 6.

Cattle-Fax. Cattle Industry Data, Analysis, Research and Education, 2003. Available from .

Copple, Brandon. "Bovine Blues." Forbes, 21 January 2002,38.

Meat and Poultry Online Web Site. Available from .

National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Beef Demand Shows Improvement after 20-Year Slide, November 1999. Available from .

——. Industry Factsheets. Available from .

National Resource Conservation Service. Healthy, Productive Grazing Land. Available from .

——. National Resources Inventory. Available from .

——. Private Grazing Land. Available from .

Nudd, Tim. "Beef. It's, Like, What's for Dinner." Adweek, 17 March 2003, 46.

Occupational Outlook Handbook. Available from .

Pottorff, Rich. "Smaller Livestock Numbers Ahead." Agri Marketing, September 2002, 26.

Smith, Rod. "Cattle Feeding Industry Needs to Make Sound Decisions for a 'Lot of Tomorrows."' Feedstuffs, 18 November 2002, 8.

——. "Cattle Locked Hard in Problems." Feedstuffs, 29 April 2002, 22-23.

——. "Turning Cattle Cycle's Corner is Hard, Slow Process." Feedstuffs, 11 November 2002, 21-22.

Texas Agricultural Extension Service. Cattle Grazing on Land Formerly Enrolled in the CRP Program. Available from .

——. Conservation Reserve Program Publications. Available from .

U.S. Department of Agriculture. Census of Agriculture. Available from .

——. Food Safety and Inspection Service. Available from .

——. Foreign Agricultural Service. Available from .

——. Marketing and Regulatory Programs. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Available from .

——. National Agricultural Statistics Service. "Cattle." Available from .

U.S. Department of the Interior. Bureau of Land Management. National Commercial Use Activity. Available from .

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