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Sustainable Ranching




The U.S. produces the most sustainable beef in the world through decades of improvement and innovation, and U.S. cattle farmers and ranchers remain committed to producing high-quality, sustainable beef for generations to come.

Between 1961 and 2018, the U.S. beef industry has reduced emissions per pound of beef by more than 40% while also producing more than 60% more beef per animal. This is a result of continued sustainability efforts and improved resource use.

Beef producers in the United States are already the global leader in sustainable beef production. U.S. cattle farmers’ commitment to environmental, economic and social sustainability is showcased with the release of U.S. cattle industry sustainability goals.

The setting of these goals will further enhance the sustainability of the U.S. system and set targets for continued progress.

Environmental Sustainability

Goal: Demonstrate the climate neutrality of U.S. cattle production by 2040.

According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, the U.S. beef supply chain has the lowest greenhouse gas emissions footprint of all beef-producing countries in the world and has been the global leader since 1996. This is not the product of resting on our laurels. Beef production in the United States is a shining example of how ingenuity, creativity, and thinking outside the box can facilitate global progress.

U.S. cattle producers have a personal stake in protecting our environment. For generations, ranchers have raised cattle on native grasslands, steep mountainsides, and coastal plains, working in harmony with nature to produce one of the most nutrient-dense food products on our grocery store shelves.

Ranchers protect habitat for wildlife, maintain the health of native ecosystems, and employ grazing management practices that sequester carbon. Cattle producers work hard to protect air and water quality, not only to preserve the health of their animals, but for the health of their families and communities.

Cattle producers in the United States play a vital role in mitigating climate-related risks. And in the face of growing concerns related to climate change, the cattle industry commits to showing that we are part of the solution. The cattle industry is committed to leading the charge to ensure that farmers and ranchers have the most up-to-date research and technologies related to carbon sequestration and emissions reduction.

Economic Sustainability

Goal: Create and enhance opportunities that result in a quantifiable increase in producer profitability and economic sustainability by 2025.

To achieve industry-wide progress toward all sustainability goals, U.S. cattle producers must remain economically viable. The existence of a pro-producer business climate is imperative to ensure that cattle producers remain in business and continue to provide superior societal and conservation value.

When evaluating strategies to increase value, we must recognize the difference between creating value and capturing value. Not only do we strive to grow the value of beef production in the United States, but also to ensure that cattle producers realize these gains.

Social Sustainability

Goal: Enhance trust in cattle producers as responsible stewards of their animals and resources by expanding educational opportunities in animal care and handling programs to further improve animal well-being.

Cattle producers in the United States have a long history of sustainable resource management and continuous improvement to enhance the lives of the animals in our care.

For years, the Beef Quality Assurance program has been a hallmark of good animal husbandry practices among U.S. cattle producers.

Sound animal care techniques are at the heart of how farmers and ranchers raise beef. BQA’s guidelines, in combination with experience and environment-specific needs, help farmers and ranchers ensure animal welfare through daily husbandry and animal care.

Social Sustainability

Goal: Continuously improve our industry’s workforce safety and well-being.

More than 90 percent of U.S. farms and ranches are family-owned and 78 percent of ranchers plan to invest in their community by passing their operation on to future generations.

Nearly 90 percent of farmers and ranchers state that ensuring and maintaining a healthy workforce is important to the future of the industry. This includes a focus on safety, job creation/fair compensation and management plans. 82 percent of farmers and ranchers agree that fair compensation for labor is a high priority for the future of the beef industry.

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