Arkansas Agriculture

The beef industry in Arkansas contributes significantly to the state’s economy and in 2012 was ranked the 5th largest agriculture commodity in the state. The modern-day peak in the size of Arkansas beef cow herd was in 1975, with 1,259,000 head. Since the mid-80s, the inventory of beef cows in Arkansas has varied from 969,000 in 1995 to 851,000 in 2013 - a range of 118,000 head.  In 2016, the cow herd total is 893,000 head - near the mid-point of this 30 year range and climbing.

Beef Facts

  • In Arkansas, the number of beef cattle farms totals fully one half of all the state farm operations. The most recent data shows the number of Arkansas farms with beef cattle at 23,385, or 54 percent of the 43,500 total farms in the state.
  • Ninety seven percent of Arkansas cattle farms are family owned and operated with an average cow herd size of near 40 head.
  • 2016 marked the third consecutive year of increase in the state's cow herd.  With the level of beef replacements being held over, especially during the past two years, a further increase in the size of the state's cow herd is expected. 
  • The latest Ag Census data shows that Arkansas has some 5.6 million acres utilized for grazing, hay and forage production. 
  • Cash receipts to Arkansas cattle producers jumped from around $550 million in 2013 to over $775 million in 2014. While prices are currently below the levels of two years ago (by some 30 percent), there are a growing number of animals in inventory, so cash receipts for 2016 should total above $600 million. This is at the high end of the historical average for the state.

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For more information on Arkansas beef, visit the Arkansas Beef Council.