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May is Beef Month

By Richard C. Snell
Barton County Extension Agent, Agriculture


Before she jumped from the frying pan into the fire, by becoming U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary, former Governor Kathleen Sebelius did a good thing. She signed a proclamation proclaiming May as Kansas Beef Month. By so doing, this marks 25 years in a row that a Kansas Governor has made May as Kansas Beef.

Let me give you some facts that show just how vital the beef industry is to the state of Kansas. Most of this information comes from Kansas Agricultural Statistics, which is a division of the Kansas Department of Agriculture and the National Agricultural Statistics Service, which is a branch of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Kansas ranked third nationally, with 6.70 million cattle on ranches and in feedyards as of Jan. 1, 2008. That's nearly two and a half times the state's human population of over 2.7 million.

Cattle represented 54 percent of the 2007 Kansas agricultural cash receipts.

Cattle generated $6.32 billion in cash receipts during 2007.

Kansas ranked seventh nationally in beef cow numbers as of Jan. 1, 2008, with 1.51 million head.

Kansas ranks first nationwide in commercial cattle processed with 7.7 million head in 2007.

Kansas ranks third in the value of live animals and meat exported to other countries at $449.8 million in 2006.

Meat packing and prepared meat products manufacturing make up the largest share of the food processing industry in the state. This industry provides employment for over 18,700 people in Kansas. (Kansas Department of Labor)

Kansas ranked second in fed cattle marketed with 5.14 million in 2007. That represents 22.9 percent of all cattle fed in the United States.

Kansas ranked third in total red meat production in 2007. Beef represented 6.2 billion pounds of the total.

Kansas ranks first in hides and skins exported from the U.S., totaling $382.2 million in 2006.

In 2007, Kansas had 31,000 farms with cattle and calves. Kansas has 47.2 million acres of farm ground; however, not all of this land can be used to grow crops. Cattle are the ideal mechanism for efficiently utilizing grasses and plants growing on the 18.3 million acres of Kansas pasture and rangeland. These acres are not suited for the production of cultivated crops and would be wasted if it were not for ruminants, such as cattle, turning these resources into essential protein and nutrients for human use.

Meat packing and prepared meat products manufacturing provide employment for over 18,700 employees in Kansas. These groups make up the largest share of the food processing industry in Kansas, which is the state's second largest industry, exceeded only by transportation manufacturing.

Cattle consume 72 percent of the corn, 16 percent of the soybeans and 60 percent of the hay grown in Kansas.

Barton County is a key player in all of this. We rank eighth in the state in total cattle numbers and our inventory at the end of 2007 was $120 million in value.

It's been tough on beef cattle producers lately. Cattle prices have not kept up with feed costs. Cattle feeders have been losing so much money that there are hundreds of feedyards for sale throughout the plains.

Even cow-calf producers have felt the strain as calf prices have dropped because feeders couldn't pay as much for them.

As the economy has lagged, consumers have gone to cheaper food items which may or may not be healthier choices. Good, lean protein is important to the body. In many ways you get what you pay for. Beef is still a good value buy.

So, the beef industry has taken it's lumps like every one else. May is a good month to help pay back and recognize the beef producers and others who help get the product to your plate for their hard work in providing you with a good, wholesome product.

Fire up the grill this month and put a steak or a burger and get it to your plate. If it happens to be little chilly out, you can still put that pot roast in the oven. Just enjoy that flavor!

Wheat plot tours and other events

This is the time of year when there will be many county extension and private company wheat plot tours to attend. The Barton County plot tour will be June 1, starting at 4:30 p.m. I'll have more details next week.

We have two plots out this year. One is at Olmitz, just south of Tim Frieb's house. The second is on the 5 mile blacktop southwest of Ellinwood. The cooperator there is Brian Mosier. It is just about a quarter mile east of SE 80th Avenue.

The signs should be up shortly. Mark the date on your calendar. We will have K-State specialists on hand, with food and drink along the way.

Other field days are as follows: Hutchinson Experiment Field--May 19; Hesston Experiment Field--May 21; Garden City Experiment Station--May 27; and June 3--Belleville.

Other events include a wildflower tour on May 23 near Hays, from 9 a.m., until noon. Also, the Agro-Forestry Field Day at Lebanon on May 20th.

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