In 2001, U.S. farm commodity cash receipts totaled $207.7 billion.1-1-1 Crop sales accounted for 46.4% and livestock and livestock products for 53.6% of total receipts. Cattle and calf cash receipts accounted for $40.44 billion or 19.5% of total receipts. The production of beef is the largest individual contributor to total U.S. farm commodity cash receipts.

The marketing channel is complex. However, the majority of slaughter cattle are sold on a direct cash basis. A majority of cash sales are by pen and the transaction price is an average price per head.

Large meat packing firms dominate the slaughter and processing segment of the beef industry. Increasing market concentration in the meat packing industry since the late 1980s has been alluded to as a potential anticompetitive trend in the beef industry.[2-

Consumer demand for beef products is dependent upon how consumers make their purchases. Higher quality beef products are desired in the hotel-restaurant and retail markets. Fast-food industry firms, on the other hand, purchase lower quality beef products. While total beef consumption has increased over the last 40 years, beef's market share of total red meat consumption has been declining since the late 1970s.

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