The United States’ meat and poultry production system is the most well-developed and most heavily regulated food production system in the world. The total cattle population in the U.S. exceeds 90 million and spans a wide geographic range with beef cattle being produced in all 50 U.S. states. The United States has the largest fed beef industry and is the largest volume producer of beef products worldwide. Each year, the United States harvests over 30 million cattle to produce over 11 and one-half million metric tons of beef for domestic and foreign markets. The beef supply chain functions synergistically to produce beef that is among the safest and highest quality in the world. U.S. beef is best known for its superior flavor, tenderness and juiciness, which is a result of harvesting young steers and heifers that have been fed a high quality, grain-based finishing diet.
Producing wholesome beef products begins with the production and management of live cattle utilizing exceptional animal health and animal handling practices. From the time that each calf is born to the time it is harvested, many programs exist to ensure animal health and well-being with oversight from the United States Department of Agriculture (or USDA) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (or APHIS). U.S. cattle production sectors include seed stock production, cow/calf production, growing stocking operations, and finishing or feedlot operations.