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$2Billion Oklahoma Beef Industry Supports State

19 March 2009

OKLAHOMA – Oklahoma’s cattle operations are dollars on the hoof for the state economy, valued at more than $2 billion annually.

Randy Pirtle, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension director for Washington County, believes it is a fact that state residents should take a moment to consider as National Ag Week activities highlight the importance of agriculture to everyone, everywhere.

“Beef cattle production represents the largest single segment of Oklahoma and American agriculture,” he said. “There are more than 800,000 beef producers in the United States. The efficiency of American animal agriculture produces 25 percent of the world’s beef supply with only 10 per cent of the cattle.”

If 1955 technologies were used to produce beef today, 165 million more acres of land would be needed. But the land-use benefits do not stop there.

“Approximately 85 per cent of U.S. grazing lands is unsuitable for producing crops,” Pirtle said. “Grazing animals on this land more than doubles the area that can be used to produce food, and beef is one of the most naturally nutrient-rich foods.”

A 3-ounce serving of lean beef contributes nine essential nutrients and 50 percent of an average adult’s daily protein needs. There are 29 cuts of beef that meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s guidelines for lean. Some studies show that fresh beef sold at U.S. retail meat counters has 27 percent less fat on average than 20 years ago.

“Where food is concerned, everyone wants to get full value for the money,” Pirtle said. “Studies indicate that it takes the average American about 35 days to earn enough disposable income to pay for all the food that is consumed at home and away from home during the entire year.”

By comparison, it takes the average American more than 100 days of earned income to pay all federal, state and local taxes each year.

“Never feel bad about eating lean beef,” Pirtle said. “It’s nutritious, tastes great, can be prepared any number of ways, maximizes land-use efficiency and supports the state economy.”

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