Farmers all over Oklahoma make raising healthy, nutritious beef cattle their life’s work. Oklahoma’s beef industry is nationally and internationally renowned, with impressive numbers of cattle and producers.
“On Jan. 1, 2014, Oklahoma had a total cattle inventory of 4.3 million head, which includes 1.8 million head of beef cows,” says Dr. Derrell Peel, professor of agribusiness at Oklahoma State University.
“Currently, Oklahoma ranks fifth among states for total cattle inventory and third for the number of beef cows.”
Even with such large numbers of cattle, approximately 97 percent of operations are family-owned and operated.
“Some of the larger operations may use an incorporated business structure, but they are very much family businesses in most cases,” Peel says.
The men and women raising beef cattle in Oklahoma have a passion for excellence that has made the industry one of the most successful in the country. This quality makes Oklahoma beef a top choice for international customers as well.
“The Oklahoma beef industry is part of a large and complex United States beef industry that serves the domestic market as well as international markets that continue to grow in economic value and importance to the industry,” Peel says. “Major international markets for the U.S. in recent years include Japan, South Korea, Canada and Mexico.”
The beef industry is not only a thriving stream of revenue, but is also a safeguard for the Oklahoma environment on which it depends.
“The beef community today has made tremendous strides in improving its environmental and social impacts.” says Heather Buckmaster, executive director of the Oklahoma Beef Council. “We have accomplished this through improvements in crop yields, better irrigation, innovations in the packing sector, improvements in technology and better animal performance.”
Oklahoma beef is a vital commodity, providing jobs, revenue and international relationships. The ever-evolving industry is inextricably tied to the state’s history and future.