Beef farmers and ranchers make impactful contributions to societal, economic fabric of Kansas
As the weather warms, people fire up their grills, grab their tongs and reach for mouth-watering steaks and real beef burgers to create memories with families and friends. In doing so, they are supporting a beef community that positively contributes to the environmental, economic, and nutritional well-being of Kansas. Recognizing the substantial importance of the beef community, Governor Laura Kelly has signed an official proclamation declaring May as Beef Month.
According to Kevin Thielen, executive director of the Kansas Beef Council, the value of beef to the economy and social fabric of the state is remarkable. “Kansas ranks third in the country with more than 6.5 million cattle on ranches and in feedyards” says Thielen. “That’s more than twice the state’s human population.” Furthermore, Kansas ranked second in fed cattle marketed, with roughly 4.97 million in 2019. In total, beef cattle and calves represented 51.5% of the 2019 Kansas agricultural cash receipts, bolstering and enhancing the spending power in local economies across the state.
Not only does the marketed value of beef have a substantial impact on the economy, but the Kansas beef community also has a significant impact on employment. According to the American Meat Institute, Kansas companies that produce, process, distribute and sell meat and poultry products employ as many as 31,440 people, while generating an additional 17,292 jobs in supplier and associated industries. These include jobs in companies supplying goods and services to manufacturers, distributors and retailers, as well as those depending upon sales to workers in the meat industry.
The beef produced by Kansas beef farmers and ranchers, feeders and processors contributes substantially to human health at every life stage. Research from gold-standard randomized, controlled trials, like a recent checkoff-funded study out of Pennsylvania State University1 demonstrates lean beef can be the protein of choice in many diets and people who eat about 5.5 ounces of lean fresh beef daily, as part of a healthy diet, not only don’t have any adverse health outcomes, but actually have lower cardiovascular disease risk and maintain a healthy weight.
Kansas has about 45.8 million acres of farm ground. Not all of this land can be used to grow crops, however. Grazing cattle is an ideal technique for efficiently utilizing grasses and plants growing on over 15.3 million acres of Kansas pasture and rangeland. These acres would be wasted if not for ruminants like cattle who can turn these resources into essential protein and nutrients for humans. Additionally, grazing cattle helps maintain grasslands and reduce the fuel load which can spark destructive wildfires.
“Kansas ranchers and feeders are committed to produce a wholesome and nutritious product responsibly and sustainably,” Thielen says. “However, beef production refined over many generations is only part of the story. Producers also keep consumer needs and wants top of mind.”
“While all aspects of beef raising and processing are important, producing beef that is delicious, safe, wholesome and nutritious is ‘job one’ for our industry,” Thielen says. “After all, producers of beef are also consumers of the beef they produce. They are proud of their role in supplying this product that so many people enjoy.”