Beef Day celebrates Madison County farmers

Sierra Marling

Madison County is celebrating its historical beef industry ties, as well as the triumph of the local industry itself, by giving everyone a free hamburger.

This will be the fourth annual Madison County Beef Day, an event hosted by the Central Kentucky Ag Credit, Madison County Farm Bureau, Madison County Beef Cattle Association, Bluegrass Stockyards in Richmond, Madison County Cooperative Extension, and the Kentucky Beef Council.

Volunteers will be providing drive-through service to anyone who comes by the Richmond Ag Credit Office at 1000 Ival James Blvd. from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday, May 24.

Brandon Sears, a Madison County extension agent, said that Madison County’s agricultural industry is made up primarily of beef cattle production, and the flyer for the event boasts that Madison County is the second-largest beef cattle producer in the state. Sears estimated that total at about 61,000 head.

He explained that it is important to celebrate beef since it is so important to the local heritage, culture, and economy.

Madison County, which was once the third-largest tobacco producer in the state, pivoted to the expansion of local beef cattle production following a large tobacco buyout in the early 2000s that eventually led to a sizable loss of tobacco acreage.

It was a hard economic hit for Madison County, but Sears recounted how tobacco farmers recognized the decline and began to focus on cattle production instead. The move made sense, he said, as many local farmers already had cattle on their farms.

“We produce a good product and source of dietary protein for people around the world. Beef cattle convert grass to protein, which is an amazing feat. Much of our agricultural land in Madison county is not suitable for row crop production but is perfect for growing grass, and so beef cattle production is a good fit,” he said.

Sears also noted the success likely comes from strong resources for local farmers — from heritage farmers to extension and other agricultural organization resources.

“We also have farmers that are some of the best at it in the country, a local network of stockyards that serves as a marketplace, and great production education through partnerships between KY Cattlemen’s Association, Ky Farm Bureau, Madison County Conservation District, KY Beef Network, KY Beef Council, Madison County Cattlemen’s Association, and Madison County Cooperative Extension,” he remarked.

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