Those lawmakers insulated by the "Beltway" have their work cut out for them, but the National Cattlemen's Beef Association is offering help. The group kicked off it's Beef 101 series last week. The educational program, entering its third year, was developed to bridge a gap between elected policymakers and the U.S. beef industry.
The first session for 2011 focused on the basics of beef production in the United States. "These sessions are purely educational. It is important for our elected leaders to understand modern beef production in order to make informed decisions based on reality, rather than propaganda," says Kristina Butts, NCBA executive director of Legislative Affairs.
The session featured NCBA Executive Director of Producer Education Tom Field, PhD, who gave a general overview of the U.S. beef industry. He told the more than 70 attendees that the beef industry, which contributes approximately $44 billion annually to the U.S. economy in farm gate receipts, is by and large family owned. He explained the notion of factory farms was an attempt by extremists to muddy the facts.
Field explained that the current beef industry is made up of 742,000 beef herds totaling 30.9 million cows and 26.7 million feeder calves. Since 1987, nearly 300,000 producers have exited the cattle business, leaving the United States with the lowest cattle inventory since World War II.