With summer right around the corner, it’s time to break out the grill and cornhole – May is National Barbecue Month! It’s also national beef, egg, strawberry, and salad month. Apropos of a backyard shindig, lemonade and apple pie days are also in May. As a matter of fact, the summer months coincide with the peak of several fruits and vegetables, nearly all perfect for a barbecue.
Often the star of a barbecue, beef provides options like hamburgers, all beef hotdogs, steak, ribs, kebabs, and brisket. Did you know that the United States produced more than 26 billion pounds of beef last year? For more information about red meat production in 2017, check out the complete Annual Summary (PDF, 1.6 MB) released by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) last month.
According to the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), the United States is the largest producer of beef in the world! The 2012 Census of Agriculture tells us that there are more than 913,000 U.S. farms with cattle and calves. Texas has the largest number of cattle and cattle operations in the country. What will the 2017 Census of Agriculture tell us?
If beef is on the menu, consider marinating the meat and/or grilling with charcoal or wood chips for added flavor. If you’re making kebabs, don’t forget to soak your wooden skewers in cold water for several minutes before using them to avoid burning. Looking for a couple of great side dishes that are waist wise? Try deviled eggs and a refreshing fruit salad.
According to the Chickens and Eggs 2017 Summary (PDF, 1.3 MB) released in February, U.S. farmers produced 106 billion eggs, 92 billion of which were table eggs, with Iowa being the largest producer. According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, the United States has 198,272 farms with laying hens. Texas has the most operations with layers (19,748).
Strawberries are great in almost everything! From desserts and drinks to salads and sauces, the strawberry is a nutritious and versatile fruit. In 2017, the U.S. produced more than 3 billion pounds of strawberries. California’s operations, with 38,200 total strawberry acres harvested, produced nearly all the U.S. total with 2.9 billion pounds. For more on strawberries, keep an eye out for the upcoming Noncitrus Fruit and Nuts Annual Report on June 26.
Not a big fan of all the work or cleanup of a barbecue? Keep it simple! Organize a potluck and use recyclable or compostable plates and utensils. As for the grill, remove debris while it’s still hot for easier and quicker cleaning. Want to do something creative? Transform your backyard barbecue into a tropical luau or host an outdoor movie night.
Beyond reminding us about these wonderful foods and occasions, May reminds us that we have only a few more weeks for census data collection. If you received a census questionnaire but have not yet completed and returned it, please do so as soon as possible. Even if you don’t farm, please return the questionnaire so that everyone is counted. The results of the Census of Agriculture will represent America’s diverse agriculture and rural communities in very important local, state, and national decisions in the years to come. These decisions include funding assistance, disaster relief, rural development, education, research, technology development, and more. Respond online at www.agcensus.usda.gov, by mail, or call (888) 424-7828 for assistance.