Nebraska Ranks No.1 in Beef Production

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Stories by RC Hansen, News Net Nebraska

Even though Nebraska is known as the Cornhusker State, corn is not number one.

Nebraska has the nation’s top ranking for red meat production. The state’s geography and exports are key factors.

Many cattle ranches around the state raise thousands of cows, which are then sent to a slaughterhouse. One of those cattle operations is Briggs Feeding Company in Seward, Neb. Owner Mike Briggs said making sure the cattle are healthy is one reason Nebraska is on top.

“Every animal that comes here gets vaccinated and dewormed,” said Briggs. “They get all the things need to set up for good health.”

Briggs Feeding Company currently holds 6,000 cattle, but the ranch can hold up to 10,000 at one time.

Nebraska has plenty of grassland to breed and raise cattle, which is more land than other states such as Iowa and Illinois. Young cows are usually out in the grasslands and pastures feeding on grass and hay.

Jordan Schlake, an ag promotion coordinator for the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, studies red meat production. Schlake said the diet of young cattle has changed over the years.

“They are switched from a corn-based diet to a grain-based diet,” said Schlake. “The grains are usually determined by a veterinarian.”

International trade is another major part of Nebraska’s red meat production. The state exports processed meat and live cattle to other countries.

Briggs does a lot of business outside the country. He said Japan is one of his company’s customers.

“Those people are really interested, maybe more so than Americans, where their meat comes from,” said Briggs.

Other countries that utilize Nebraska’s red meat production are Mexico, Canada and South Korea. Nebraska’s red meat exports have risen about 20 to 30 percent each year recently.

Schlake said he is not surprised at all with the amount of Nebraska’s exports. One country specifically is increasing its imports of Nebraska meat.

“Russia has been our fastest growing export market,” said Schlake. “Not only have we been selling beef to them, but we’ve been sending them our live cattle as well for their own breeding operations.”