Arizona Needs Cattle
total contribution to state output
exports outside of Arizona
people could have been fed by Arizona ranchers in 2015
beef meals were raised by Arizona ranchers in 2015
Farms and ranches with cattle
2017 calf crop
Cattle and other livestock moved into Arizona over 300 years ago after conquistadors discovered the area. Around 1690 Spanish Missionaries introduced ranching to the Tohono O'odham Indians.
After the Civil War, overgrazed pastures in Texas led ranchers to the Arizona Territory and began the state's cattle boom. Around the same time miners discovered gold near Prescott, ranchers were moving stock onto Arizona's grasslands. Railroads and windmill technology, used to fill ponds, brought an explosion of ranches and cattle spectators from the East Coast. By the 1890s, about 1.5 million cattle roamed in Arizona.
Since the boom of the 19th century, cattle numbers have leveled out to a responsible number for the rangelands. In addition to raising one of the nation's most popular foods, ranchers take great pride protecting the environment for livestock, wildlife, and the public to enjoy. Today most cattlemen and women are third and forth generation ranchers.
More than 20% of Arizona's 19,500 farms specialize in beef production. Together, farming and ranching families manage more than 26 million acres of Arizona land.
Besides caring for animals and tending crops ranchers and farmers are stewards of the land and work to continuously improve the techniques they use to raise beef. Data shows ranching is more sustainable than it was 30 years ago. Compared with beef production in 1977, each pound of beef raised today produces 16% less carbon emissions, takes 33% less land and required 12% less water. Arizona ranchers' priorities are to care for their animals, care for the land, and care about providing high quality beef.