FRANKFORT – After a year marked by a global pandemic that disrupted the nation’s supply chain and cattle prices, Kentucky cattle producers joined Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Dr. Ryan Quarles to commemorate the month of May as “Kentucky Beef Month.”
“If the pandemic showed us anything, it was the importance of our beef cattle farmers. When grocery stores shelves were empty, Kentucky residents turned to our farmers and our farmers delivered,” Quarles said. “Beef is not only good for you as part of a healthy, balanced diet, but buying Kentucky Proud beef is good for the state’s economy, keeping your hard-earned money right here at home. I ask all Kentuckians to join me and our cattlemen in enjoying some delicious beef during the month of May.”
With more than half of Kentucky farms raising cattle, the state is home to 38,000 beef cattle producers according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. The commonwealth is 14th in the nation for the total number of beef cows and calves with an inventory of 2.15 million head as of January 1. With nearly a million beef cows, Kentucky boasts the largest beef cattle inventory east of the Mississippi River and the eighth-most in the nation.
Kentucky produced more than 667 million pounds of beef last year valued at more than $701 million. Beef cattle sales accounted for more than $727 million in cash receipts to Kentucky producers in 2020 and gross income of more than $739 million.
During the pandemic, Quarles and the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board invested more than $3.5 million into expanding meat-processing capacity across the commonwealth so the state would not be as reliant upon out-of-state meat processors. In May 2020, Quarles and Attorney General Daniel Cameron wrote the Department of Justice to request an investigation in possible anti-competitive practices that might have occurred during the processing slowdown, which resulted in higher prices for meat at the grocery store but lower prices on the farm.
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture helps producers find new markets for their cattle, conducts beef cattle shows, tracks market prices, and protects Kentucky’s herds from disease. To find out more about the Department’s services, go to www.kyagr.com.
Consumers can locate Kentucky Cattlemen’s Ground Beef burgers, made with locally-sourced beef raised by Kentucky producers at Kroger stores across the state. To find local beef near you, visit kyproud.com/beef.