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Celebrating and Savoring Nebraska Beef

Celebrating and Savoring Nebraska Beef

By Governor Pete Ricketts

May 11, 2021


Governor’s official photo here


Nebraska has long been known as the Beef State and May is Beef Month, so it’s the perfect time to enjoy a delicious burger or steak. 


Agriculture is our state’s largest industry, and beef is the biggest segment of Nebraska agriculture.  Our beef industry generates about $10.6 billion in cash receipts each year, which is roughly half of all ag receipts in Nebraska.  Nationally, Nebraska ranks #1 for commercial cattle slaughter, and we’re number two for beef exports, commercial red meat production, all cattle and calves, and all cattle on feed.  Beef creates jobs, not only for ranchers and feeders but also for animal breeders, butchers, cattle auctioneers, feed mill operators, food processing workers, rangeland scientists, steakhouse owners, veterinarians, and more.  Nebraska’s beef production continues to grow and generate new opportunities.  Since 2015, Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, and feeders have added over 500,000 head of cattle to operations here in our state.


Nebraska beef is popular around the world.  Japan and South Korea are the biggest international markets for our beef.  In 2020, we supplied 62.6% of all U.S. beef exports to the European Union, and over 90% of our country’s beef exports to Israel.  This year, Nebraska set an all-time record for first quarter beef exports, topping $350 million of exports from January through March 2021. 


While our family ranches are working to grow Nebraska, anti-livestock activists have been spreading misinformation about the healthiness of beef in an effort to get people to eat less meat.  It’s important to counter these attacks with some basic facts.  Beef is an important part of a nutritional, healthy diet.  It’s packed with protein.  You can get as much protein from three ounces of beef as you can from three cups of quinoa—and who wants to eat that much quinoa?  Beef is a nutrient dense food.  It contains essential components of a good diet such as vitamins B6 and B12, zinc, and iron.  Eating beef helps you build and preserve muscle and maintain a strong immune system.  It’s also a great source of energy and brainpower.  Plus it tastes great!  These are some of the reasons why beef consumption in America during 2019 (the most recent year of data available) was at its highest point in over a decade. 


While raising livestock for consumption is our way of life, this industry is under attack.  Radical environmentalists and supporters of the Green New Deal have been pushing a climate agenda that’s opposed to animal agriculture.  Their ill-informed attacks reveal a lack of knowledge about modern agricultural practices.  Our family ranches are continuously improving the efficiency of their operations.  The United States produces the same amount of beef now as it did in 1977, with 33% fewer animals.  Since the 1960s, our ranchers have contributed to a 66% increase in national beef production, while helping the U.S. cattle industry reduce its carbon footprint by 40%.  Per pound of beef produced, the U.S. has some of the lowest greenhouse gas emissions in the world—measuring 10-50 times lower than in many other parts of the globe.


Anti-livestock environmentalists also fail to grasp the importance of beef to the global food supply.  Worldwide, two-thirds of land isn’t suitable for growing crops, but much of it can be grazed by livestock.  In fact, 86% of livestock feed can’t be eaten by humans.  Taking away beef as a food source would jeopardize our ability to feed our growing world. 


In the early days of his presidency, Joe Biden has allied himself with radical environmentalists.  In January, he signed an executive order calling for 30% of lands and waters to be set aside for conservation by 2030 (30 x 30).  Last week, the Biden-Harris Administration released a vague report on its 30 x 30 program.  It contained a lot of hollow platitudes and few new details on the plan.  While the report states that 30 x 30 will include voluntary private measures, at least in part, this reassurance is not enough.  If the Biden Administration really believed that voluntary measures worked, they would leave conservation efforts to the states and private landowners instead of pursuing a national strategy that imposes goals written by federal bureaucrats. 


President Biden needs to side with our hard-working farm and ranch families rather than caving to the radical demands of environmental lobbyists in DC.


Here in Nebraska, we will continue to fully support our ag producers as they work to feed the world.  We’ll defend our way of life, and we’ll protect the rights of our landowners against federal encroachment.


If you have questions about the State of Nebraska’s work to support agriculture, please email or call 402-471-2244. 


To show your support for our ranchers, I invite you to participate in the Good Life Great Steaks Beef Passport program presented by the Nebraska Beef Council.  The Passport program features 41 restaurants in our state that serve premium Nebraska beef.  From now through September 7, 2021, passport holders can earn stamps by dining at participating restaurants.  After collecting stamps, diners can then submit them to be entered into prize drawings.  To order a passport, see a list of participating restaurants, and get information on program rules and prizes, go to