Starts Tuesday, September 20, 2011 at 6:00 PM for 120 minutes
Location: Hay corral at Callicrate Cattle Company located at 940 County Road 12, St. Francis, Kansas
Who: Callicrate Cattle Company owner, Mike Callicrate
R-CALF USA Region VI Director Nominee Mike Schultz
Kansas Cattlemen's Association Executive Director/CEO Brandy Carter
Kansas Farmers Union President Donn Teske
Cheyenne County, Kansas, Commissioner Dale Patton
R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard, who will moderate the panel.
Background : Mike Callicrate, owner of Callicrate Cattle Company, R-CALF USA member and an outspoken advocate against big agribusiness's ongoing plans to concentrate and consolidate the U.S. live cattle supply chain, was blackballed by the nation's monopolistic beef packers in 1998 -- the monopolistic beef packers refused to purchase his cattle after Callicrate criticized the packers for engaging in unfair, deceptive and discriminatory cattle-buying practices. Without a market for his fed cattle, Callicrate was forced to close his feedlot.
Undeterred, Callicrate fought back to remain in the cattle business and in 2000, he bypassed the packer-controlled fed cattle market by opening Ranch Foods Direct, a local, high quality meat processing and distribution company in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and began marketing Callicrate beef from his cattle operation directly to consumers.
Callicrate's entrepreneurial spirit
is exemplified not only by his establishment of Ranch Foods Direct, but also by
his successful invention, the Callicrate Bander, a unique and humane castration
tool now used by ranchers around the world. In addition, Callicrate has been
featured by USDA for his leadership and innovation in promoting mobile
livestock slaughtering facilities that enable smaller cattle operators to slaughter
cattle right on the farm or ranch, thus encouraging more local production and
processing for the benefit of Rural America and urban consumers.
Less than a month ago, on August
15, 2011, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) issued a formal Notice of
Administrative Compliance Order against Callicrate Feed Yard that threatens to
impose civil penalties against Callicrate in an amount up to $37,500 per day
for each violation alleged by EPA.
Among the violations cited by EPA
is that Callicrate failed to store his hay in a pollution containment zone,
which indicates EPA now considers hay a pollutant.
According to Callicrate, "Now
that EPA appears to have declared hay a pollutant, every farmer and rancher
that stores hay, or that leaves a broken hay bale in the field is potentially
violating EPA rules and subject to an EPA enforcement action."
Callicrate is permitted to handle
12,000 cattle at a time in his feedlot, which is considered a small to
mid-sized feedlot in an industry now dominated by mega-feedlots. For example, the
world's largest beef packer -- JBS-Brazil -- owns feedlots with a total one-time
capacity of over 900,000 cattle. Cargill, the nation's second largest beef
packer, likewise owns mega-feedlots that feed hundreds of thousands of cattle
at a time. Other packer-partnered, mega-feedlots with capacities of hundreds of
thousands of cattle include those owned by Cactus Feeders, Inc. and Friona
In comments submitted to the U.S.
Department of Justice, R-CALF USA
estimated the above named mega-feedlots feed 18 percent of the nation's fed
cattle each year while one-fourth of the nation's cattle are fed in feedlots
with a one time capacity of 50,000 head or more. The largest of feedlots are
getting larger and Callicrate's feedlot is among the group of small to
mid-sized feedlots that are being pressured to exit the industry so beef
packers and corporate feedlot owners can increase their respective capacities
and market control. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) show
that 45 feedlots with one-time capacities of 1,000 to 16,000 head have exited
the industry from 2008 to 2010.
R-CALF USA contends beef packers are deliberately forcing small- to mid-sized feedlots out of business through unfair and abusive cattle-buying practices that effectively restrict market access for all but the largest of feedlots. "The proposed GIPSA rule (USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration rule) will put a stop to such unfair and abusive practices, but only if USDA issues a final rule," said Callicrate.
"I believe the EPA's enforcement
action is a premeditated effort by EPA to partner with the beef packers, who hold
a seat of honor at the EPA rule-making table, to finish the job the beef
packer's couldn't do alone," said Callicrate, adding, "Along with my feedlot,
the EPA has filed enforcement actions against five other smaller feedlots, including
one with only 400 cattle.
Callicrate said the EPA does not
appear to be going after the bigger, corporate feedlots. "EPA is turning a blind eye toward the
mega-feedlots that are a real risk for pollution and, instead, is antagonizing
small to mid-sized family operations in an effort to help their packer-partners
capture the entire live cattle supply chain away from family farm and ranch
"We thought the Obama
Administration was going to bring about a change to the ongoing corporate control
and corporate dominance that has been decimating the U.S. cattle industry. I guess we're seeing that change right now.
Rather than reduce corporate control and dominance, the EPA is overtly
partnering with the corporate beef packers to accelerate the exodus of
sustainable, independent family operations.
This really smells," Callicrate concluded.
Anyone who wishes to support R-CALF USA's efforts to end the injustices against U.S. cattle producers by putting a stop to the Administration's unreasonable and unwarranted enforcement practices and its refusal to enforce U.S. antitrust laws and laws prohibiting unfair trade practices against monopolistic packers can send their donations to:
P.O. Box 30715
Billings, MT 59107
# # #
R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on trade and marketing issues. Members are located across 46 states and are primarily cow/calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and/or feedlot owners. R-CALF USA directors and committee chairs are extremely active unpaid volunteers. R-CALF USA has dozens of affiliate organizations and various main-street businesses are associate members. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.
Organization: R-CALF USA
Contact Info: R-CALF USA (firstname.lastname@example.org) 406-252-2516
(Registration Not Required)