The US ranching and farming industry is in a major state of transition and rapid innovation. Technology is changing the way we work on our ranches and farms and also how we, as Americans, interact with our food on a daily basis. Let’s take a further look into the industry and explore the various changes.
- Agriculture and ranching supplied $1.053 trillion to the US gross domestic product in 2017, which would make it the 16th largest economy in the world if treated as its own country, sandwiched between Mexico and Indonesia.
- More than 700,000 cattle farms, ranches and feedyards exist in the U.S. Livestock grazing takes up 614 million acres, or 27% of U.S. land. About 93.8 million beef cattle live in the U.S. For comparison, there are about 326 million people in the country.
- While there are more than 2 million farms across the US, farmers and ranchers make up just 1.3% of the labor force.
- While farmland may stretch far and wide, farmers and ranchers themselves make up just 1.3% of the employed US population, totaling around 2.6 million people.
- The local food market in the US is expected to hit $20.2 billion, nearly doubling from 2014 to 2019. In 2017, global market research company Mintel found “widespread mistrust” among consumers in how food is made. This mistrust has helped usher in support for farmers’ markets and growing food at home. It’s also increased the demand for traceability, or the ability to to track every step in the process of food production. People are making a more conscious effort to buy locally from their local butchers and ranches.
- With the population’s growing concern for healthy eating, lean beef is in higher demand, resulting in an estimated 44% reduction in available total fat and a 29% reduction in saturated fat per capita contributed by beef, as calculated from the total beef available in the U.S. on an annual basis.
- There are over three times more beef cows than milk cows living in the United States. Raising cattle is notoriously expensive as land, feed an equipment do not come cheap.
- Most beef produced in and exported from the United States is grain-fed and marketed as high-value cuts. In 2021, the United States was ranked as the second-largest beef exporter behind Brazil, although it often has been a net importer.
- In 2021, the top 5 U.S. beef export markets made up 80% of total beef exports: Japan, South Korea, China, Mexico, and Canada. The United States’ two largest beef markets—Japan and South Korea—accounted for about 47% of U.S. exports. The third largest market was China, accounting for 16% of exports. Mexico and Canada—representing the North American beef trade—accounted for 17% of total exports.
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