Cattle & Beef

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With the largest fed-cattle industry in the world, the United States is also the world's largest producer of beef, primarily high-quality, grain-fed beef for domestic and export use. Nevertheless, the United States is a net beef importer, purchasing lower-value, grass-fed beef destined for processing. The U.S. industry is roughly divided into two production sectors: cow-calf operations and cattle feeding. Because the cattle/beef industry depends on feed grains, grain supplies and prices affect beef production.For a comprehensive overview of the hogs and pork industry, —including production, policy, and trade, —see Sector at a Glance.

ERS conducts research and analyses on the livestock market, including the cattle and beef market, and provides a monthly industry outlook as well as current and historical data covering supply, use, prices, and trade of cattle and beef. 

Periodic, Scheduled Outputs 

  • The Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook (LDP), a monthly report that provides supply and use projections for U.S. livestock, dairy and poultry markets based on the most current World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates.
  • WASDE at a Glance, a monthly interactive visualization that provides key data and highlights from USDA's World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) on livestock and dairy as well as field crops. 
  • Livestock and Meat Domestic Data, a monthly data product that contains current and historical data on beef, veal, poultry, and pork including production, supply, utilization, and farm prices.
  • Livestock and Meat International Trade Data, a dataset that contains monthly and annual data for imports and exports of live cattle, hogs, sheep, and goats, as well as beef and veal, pork, lamb and mutton, chicken meat, turkey meat, and eggs. The tables report physical quantities, not dollar values or unit prices. Data on beef and veal, pork, and lamb and mutton are on a carcass-weight-equivalent basis. Breakdowns by country are included.
  • Meat Price Spreads, a monthly data set that provides average price values, and the differences among those values, at the farm, wholesale, and retail stages of the production and marketing chain for selected cuts of beef, pork, and broilers. In addition, retail prices are provided for beef and pork cuts, turkey, whole chickens, eggs, and dairy products.
  • Commodity Costs and Returns, a data product that provides annual estimates of production costs and returns for major field crops, milk, hogs, and cow-calf. 
  • USDA's Agricultural Baseline Projections, an annual report published in February that offers 10-year projections from USDA's annual long-term projections analysis. The associated database covers projections for the four major feed grains (corn, sorghum, barley, and oats) in addition to the other major feed crops and livestock.

Recent ERS Publications Relating to Cattle and Beef

ERS also releases reports covering domestic and global conditions, trends, and policies that affect poultry supply, demand, prices, and trade in cattle and beef sector. Recent ERS reports relating to cattle and beef include: 

  • Federal Natural Disaster Assistance Programs for Livestock Producers, 2008–2016 Analysis of three disaster assistance programs for livestock administered by the Farm Service Agency reveals regional differences in payment delivery and how outlays vary by year and program. (EIB-187, January 2018)
  • Three Decades of Consolidation in U.S. Agriculture Crop production has seen a widespread and persistent shift of acreage and sales to larger farming operations over the last three decades. Some livestock sectors have seen dramatic structural change, but consolidation has been modest or nonexistent in pasture/grazing land and in the associated cow-calf sector. Consolidation has been facilitated by increased farm-level commodity specialization. (EIB-189, March 2018)