Trends in the U.S. Goat Industry (2007)
The following sections are designed to assess the current goat industry in the United States, with emphasis on its future outlook. In the United States, goats are used mainly for meat, milk and fiber production, but also as a holistic tool for land vegetation management and fire fuel load control. The data presented is drawn from four different sources—the 2000 U.S. population census, the USDA 2002 Census of Agriculture, the USDA National Agricultural Statistic Service, and the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. In the United States, meat goat production has been gaining popularity in recent years particularly because of a growing population of ethnic and faith-based groups who consume goat meat. The national estimates, based on import data only, indicate that the United States in 2007 was more than 750,000 head deficient in meeting current demands for goat meat.
There is an increased interest in goat meat and milk consumption in the United States. Goats slaughtered in the USDA-inspected plants, as well as goat meat imported from Australia and New Zealand, have sharply increased since 1999. The United States has changed from a net exporter to a net importer of goat meat during the last decade. Increases in ethnic populations in the United States -- especially Hispanics, Asians and Muslims -- have contributed to this development. Also, goat meat is healthy meat and fits the designer diets of health-conscious Americans, a concept that needs additional publicity. Goat production provides a significant opportunity for small farm producers in United States to target these markets and diversify their farm products. There is a great opportunity for value-added products. However, greater emphasis needs to be on consumer awareness of goat meat products as well as producer education; additionally, marketing structure for goat meat must be strengthened.