Virginia's Beef Story: 

A Story Older than Virginia Itself

We hope you can use our site to learn about the beef industry and how it fits in with your beef choices at the grocery store. Through this page, you have access to the science, the passion, and the personal stories that go into making the best protein to put on your table. And you get to learn from the ultimate beef experts: the beef community and the farmers that raise your food (23,000+ of them just in Virginia)! Hear from some of them now!

Cattle in Virginia: Then & Now

Cattle first arrived in Virginia around the late 1500s –brought over by settlers. Each animal served as a beef, dairy, and draft work source. Now cattle are bred more specifically for one purpose or another. While beef cattle do not serve dairy purposes, dairy cattle do become part of the beef industry.

Cattle now exist in every county of Virginia, and beef cattle numbers are estimated at 675,000. That makes it the 2nd largest commodity in Virginia, bringing in $714 MILLION for 2014. But don’t let that fool you…97% of all beef operations nationwide are family owned. The average herd size in Virginia is just 30! That’s a lot of small business providing big economic impact & job opportunity to Virginia.

Multiple Production Methods Means Lots of Choices for You!

Virginia’s beef comes in all shapes and sizes, from conventional, to 100% Certified Angus, to USDA Organic to grass-finished and beyond! Virginia cattle producers are held to a high standard when it comes to taking care of their animals. The Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Program is just one voluntary program producers participate in that outlines humane handling and treatment of cattle. In addition to the variety of cattle and beef, the folks raising them is equally diversified. Over 60% of Virginia farms own cattle, and more than 40% of farms nationwide are owned or operated by women!

Before making up your mind about what choice best suits your family, check out the resources below, do your research and become an educated beef shopper! There is a style and cut for every person and every budget.

Sources: VDACS annual reports, Farm Credit, National Agriculture Statistics Service, Virginia's Cattle Story

Additional Resources

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Beef Lifecycle

There are many segments in the beef community that work together to get beef from pasture to plate.

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Beef Choices

No matter your preference, there is a tasty & nutritious beef option for you! We break down your options.

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Beef Sustainability

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Facts About Beef

Learn in-depth about beef production, safety, nutrition, environment, animal care and more.

Learn More


How are cattle raised?

Virginia is mostly a cow-calf state, due to its abundance of pasture lands and lack of grain crops. Learn what "Cow-Calf" means, and about the other segments of the business. 



Meat Virginia's Producers

Virginia has over 23,000 beef cattle producers or farmers. Hear from them about how they raise cattle, their favorite beef recipes, and why they love their jobs.

Get Acquainted