America’s Heartland Highlights Cattle Industry’s Role in U.S. Agriculture

PBS series features several episodes on beef production.

Published on: Nov 14, 2005

Cattle and beef production – the largest segment of American agriculture – will play a prominent role in upcoming episodes of America’s Heartland. This new weekly public television series profiles the people, places and processes of our nation's agriculture.

Over the next year, 20 episodes of America’s Heartland will tap into - and strengthen - the ties that bind all Americans together: the love of our land and the respect for the people who live on it and make their living from it. Hosted by Paul Ryan, each episode will feature about five separate news segments.

The U.S. cattle industry is featured in several segments of the program, including:

  • Ryan hosts a feature on the 800,000-acre King Ranch of Texas. The legend of this historic south Texas ranch is told through the experiences of cowboys who have ridden its vast stretches for decades. Viewers are also offered insights into the King family history and the Texas Longhorn cattle that this ranch helped introduce to America.

  • Reporter Pat McConahay visits one of America’s more unusual ranches, which has become a Florida tourist attraction. At the Babcock Ranch, an ancient livestock breed known as "cracker cattle" is raised along with alligators.

  • Correspondent Craig Miller takes the audience to California to witness the use of global positioning system technology to track cattle.

  • Reporter Jason Shoultz introduces a Montana cattle breeder who mixes the rough-and-ready ranching lifestyle with high-tech science to build better stock.

  • McConahay visits the scenic Wisconsin ranch of country music star Michael Martin Murphey, where running the ranch operation involves the entire family.

Jim McAdams, a Texas rancher and president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, says cattlemen will be pleased to see a television series celebrating the heritage of the cattle industry, as well as the prominent role it still plays in the nation’s economy.

"As a rancher, I will watch this series with great interest and anticipation," McAdams says. "But I am also grateful that the program offers urban folks the opportunity to learn more about farming and ranching and the role that agriculture played in building this nation."

John Braly, NCBA vice-president for industry and member services and an advisory board member of America’s Heartland, also predicts the program will appeal to a wide audience.

"PBS stations in California carried a similar program called California Heartland," Braly says. "Other than NOVA, it was the most-watched PBS program in California. And, it was heavily viewed in some of the largest urban centers."

America’s Heartland will be carried on at least 141 PBS affiliates, covering 40 percent of the nation’s households. Viewers should check local listings for programs times, and can learn more about the program at