Special to the E-T

FORT WORTH, TEXAS - Cattle raisers across Texas join together today to celebrate National Ag Week, March 13-19. National Ag Week is a time for every American to recognize and celebrate the hard working farmers and ranchers who supply us with the safest and most secure food supply in the world.

"Today's rancher feeds approximately 144 people, a dramatic increase from the 1960s when they fed 25," said Dave Scott, rancher and president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA). "Texas ranchers are committed to providing the safest beef possible, for our families and yours."

Scott said that every year the beef industry collectively invests more than $350 million in safety efforts. To date, cattle ranchers have invested more than $28 million of their own dollars into safety research.

"We believe quality beef begins with quality care, which is why we work hard to keep our animals healthy, safe and secure," Scott said. "Likewise, Texas ranchers are dedicated to leaving the environment in better shape for the next generation while providing food for a hungry and growing world."

"Many folks believe it they don't live on a farm or ranch they aren't connected to agriculture. That couldn't be further from the truth. As Texas beef producers, we must continue to educate the general public about the contributions the ranching industry makes to their everyday lives," Scott continued.

Facts about the American Beef Industry:

According to the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), beef cattle production represents the largest single segment of American agriculture. The U.S. beef industry is made up of more than 1 million businesses, farms and ranchers. ? In 2007, more than 97 percent of beef cattle farms and ranchers in the U.S. were family owned.

Beef production also largely affects the U.S. economy. According to USDA, producers of meat animals were responsible for more than $66 billion in added value to the U.S. economy. ? U.S. beef producers provide 25 percent of the world's beef supply with 10 percent of the world's cattle. According to NASS and data from the U.S. Census Bureau, between 1960 and 2007 the number of U.S. farms declined by more than 1.7 million, yet the U.S. population increased by 64 percent. In 1960, there were 3.9 million farms feeding a U.S. population of 183 million.

For more beef facts, visit www.explorebeef.org.