Corporate Farming Bill Threatens Nebraska’s Family Farms



February 1, 2016

Corporate Farming Bill Threatens Nebraska’s Family Farms

HAPPY PIGS ON A FAMILY FARM.  If pigs could vote, they would say NO to LB176

If pigs could vote, they would say NO to LB176 and Smithfield’s factory farms

The Organization for Competitive Markets is calling on farmers, ranchers and consumers across Nebraska to strongly oppose a bill in the state legislature that would reduce competition in the marketplace by allowing packer ownership of hogs. Nebraska is the only state that still prohibits packers from owning hogs more than five days prior to slaughter.

“We can’t let this happen in Nebraska,” said OCM President Mike Callicrate, who raises livestock in Northwest Kansas. “There’s a reason Nebraska is the nation’s leading red meat producing and processing state, with more independent family farmers, ranchers, and feedlot owners per capita than any other state in the nation. Nebraska’s success is directly tied to the fact that the Competitive Livestock Markets Act is in force, providing a shining example of what can be done to protect a vibrant agricultural economy. When independent livestock owners and operators are treated fairly in the marketplace, commerce thrives and rural communities prosper.”

Legislative Bill 176 would amend Nebraska’s Competitive Livestock Market Act to allow for corporate ownership of hogs. It was introduced by State Senator Ken Schilz, who continues to lead the charge to kill the state’s ban on packer ownership of livestock. The Nebraska legislature could vote on the bill as early as this week.

“Allowing corporate ownership of hogs in Nebraska is an affront to the work of state senators like Cap Dierks who rescued Nebraska’s livestock producers from crashing markets in 1999 by standing up for competitive markets. Senator Schilz’s bill would reverse their important work and signal the final death knell for independent livestock producers,” Callicrate said. “We’ve already seen what contract farming and captive supplies have done to the poultry industry, and beef is not far behind, as last year’s huge and unprecedented loss of equity from the cattle business shows. Surely by now the track record is clear on how corporate packers pillage the environment while impoverishing farmers, abusing animals and exploiting workers and rural communities for their own gain.”

Of particular concern to OCM is that Smithfield Foods, the major force and financing behind the bill, is the largest pork processor in the world, and is now Chinese owned. Similarly, the largest beef and poultry processor, JBS, is owned by Brazil, all of which points to the gradual takeover of American agriculture by foreign countries.

“China has already robbed the U.S. of its productive capacity by undercutting U.S. manufacturers through unfair trade practices, including artificial devaluation of currency and virtual slave labor practices that make their exports cheaper than U.S. produced goods. This is just one more step along a path where China exploits America’s political posture of doing nothing while the trade deficit soars,” Callicrate said. “Why isn’t Senator Schilz looking out for Nebraskans instead of facilitating a Chinese-owned corporation in plundering the resources of Nebraska, leaving only the waste behind?”

Mike Weaver, an OCM board member, poultry grower and beef cattle producer from West Virginia who is also president of Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias, implores Nebraska’s senators to vote against LB176 in its entirety.

Weaver writes in a letter to Senators, “I am sure this change in your state law will eventually lead to more consolidation in beef and pork production and force out the independent farmers and ranchers who are the backbone of your state and, indeed, of this great country.”

“Having been in poultry production for almost 15 years, I have seen continuous consolidation of production which equates to squeezing farmers more and more every day,” he continues. “The best example I can give you is the fact that chicken growers — not just in our area, but nationwide — have not seen an increase in base pay for almost twenty years! At the same time, inflation has increased our expenses by 300 to 400 percent.”

OCM is asking all citizens in Nebraska to hold their legislators accountable for this bill’s consequences. Let them know that a vote for this bill is a vote to kill competitive markets while placing foreign interests above the best interests of Nebraska and the nation.

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We still cannot compete

January 26, 2016

The Trans Pacific Partnership Should be Voted Down – No more bad trade deals!

Since the following article was written in 2007, the U.S. trade deficit has grown by $12.4 trillion. Acceptance of the Trans Pacific Partnership will only increase multinational corporate pillaging of ours, and the world’s poorest economies.

Politics – The March of Folly continues with free trade advocates

December 13, 2007

In 1984, Barbara W. Tuchman wrote the book, March of Folly. Tuchman studies events in history when governments acted contrary to their own self-interest and the interest of the people when better and clear alternatives existed. Why did the people of Troy drag the Trojan Horse inside their walls despite every reason to suspect a Greek trick? Tuchman says, “Mankind, it seems, makes a poorer performance of government than almost any other activity. Why do holders of high office so often act contrary to the way reason points and enlightened self-interest suggests?”

I believe the exploitative Wall Street version of Globalization is the greatest threat on the globe to our economic and social well-being.

Both Republican and Democrat candidates are acting the fool when it comes to abusive corporate power and trade. We are losing our freedom and our country to this business/government partnership.

Responding to the question on trade during the Iowa debate, John McCain said he was the biggest free trader we have ever met. Mitt Romney said the U.S. can compete with anyone.

No, we cannot compete.

We value our land, our farms and our environment. We want to grow things. We want to feed ourselves.

Dallas, South Dakota farm during the dust bowl, 1936

Abandoned farmstead, St. Francis, KS 2007

No, we cannot compete.

We want to make things here at home. We need living wage jobs.

Soon to be shuttered Colorado Springs Intel plant. Production is moving to China.

Closed tool and die company, Colorado Springs

No, we cannot compete.

We value our health and the health of our children and feel responsible for the world we leave them.

Tenant farmer's children, younger one with rickets from malnutrition. Poor, eroded land the result of cotton-tobacco culture near Wadesboro, North Carolina, 1938. From In This Proud Land: America 1935- 1943 as Seen in the FSA Photographs

Tenant farmer’s children, younger one with rickets from malnutrition. Poor, eroded land the result of cotton-tobacco culture near Wadesboro, North Carolina, 1938.
From In This Proud Land: America 1935- 1943 as Seen in the FSA Photographs

No, we cannot compete.

We value our communities.

Farming community of St. Francis, KS 2006

Farming community of St. Francis, KS 2006

No, we cannot compete.

We value our infrastructure.


Collapsed rail line, St. Francis, KS 2006


Collapsed bridge, Minneapolis, MN 2007

No, we cannot compete.

We want all people to live with dignity.

Living quarters of sweat shop workers on the outskirts of Beijing, China 2003

Living quarters of sweat shop workers on the outskirts of Beijing, China 2003

“Globalization” is the road to a world of serfdom.

Under the current model of “Globalization”, where powerful corporations rule, searching the world for the hungriest people that will work the cheapest, people in other countries can’t compete either.

Mike Callicrate
Colorado Springs, CO 80907
Member of the Coalition for a Prosperous America

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#REX2KANSAS – 10 Days of Integrated Farm Planning Training with Darren J. Doherty at Callicrate Cattle Co in St. Francis Kansas

Sustaining today’s broken food system is not an option. From pasture and field, from slaughter to plate, REX10 will be developing a plan for regenerating a healthy and resilient farming, ranching, and food system in our high plains and mountain region. Hope you can attend this important workshop.



The REX does not promise all things to all people, it is founded on reality and accordingly we want you to consider the following questions:


  • To do a training that is ‘cutting to the chase’ and respects your valuable time, investment & involvement?
  • To do a training that is led by someone has over 20 years of real project experience in over 40 countries?
  • To walk away from a training with less questions than when you started because now you know how to get to work?
  • To do a training where you are working on a real project with real clients and real outcomes?
  • A level of support following the training?
  • To do daily exercises that build your confidence and understanding from Day 1?
  • To get constructive and participatory feedback on your work?
  • An intense experience that is big on you understanding processes you’ll be able to take to any regenerative agricultural project?


The REX is our marquee training event with the intention of accelerating the development of regenerative land management. The REX is run over 10 intensive days (no day off!) and is based on a real farm with real clients taking real risks and looking for a real future. Regrarians’ Darren J. Doherty will lead both the attendees and the clients through an intensive program which is a participatory balance of practical theory and hands-on decision making and practice just as happens on real projects & these are real projects!!

The following REX Outline is a representation only — each REX venue will have variations with regards some of the practicums as the availability of different equipment will vary…

DAY 1 – Climate (90 minute sessions)

A – Client ‘Climate’ Briefing, Develop Holistic Goal/Concept, Terms of Reference
B – Atmospheric Climate retrieval & analysis, macro & micro climate factors
C – Legal ‘Climate’ retrieval & analysis, Municipal & State planning, other regulations
D – Climate Layer Exercise – Over 60 mins in small work-teams frame responses to the above and report to course findings in 10 mins each group (includes feedback)
E – Thermophyllic Composting Demonstration (scalable)

DAY 2 – Geography

A – Revision; Sandpit: Keyline Geography, Geometry & Applications
B – Assemble & Study Cadastral, Geology, Soil, Topographic, Planning & Mining Maps
C – GIS/GPS/Survey Applications & Technologies, Online GIS resources, Developing Effective Plans
D – Farm Walk ‘n’ Talk, Landscape Reading & Analysis, ‘Farmscape’ Analysis, Define Primary Land Unit & Land Component Boundaries, ‘Bullseye’ Demonstration

DAY 3 – Water

A – Revision; Examine & Overview of Existing Farm Water Systems, Farm Catchment
B – Earth Dam Construction & Water Harvesting Infrastructure – Design, Processes & Applications
C – Farm Irrigation Systems – Design, Applications & Installation
D – Water Layer – Over 90 mins (plus break time) develop farm water storage, harvesting
E – Water Layer Presentation & Feedback session + 10 mins each group for presentation & feedback

DAY 4 – Access

A – Revision; Examine & Overview of Existing Internal & External Farm Access
B – Access Earthworks Design, Engineering, Construction & Applications
C – Dam, Water Harvesting & Access Set Out Practicum: using Surveyor & DIY Instruments (RTK-GPS, Total Station, Transit & Laser Levels)
D – Access Layer – Over 60 mins develop farm access concept plan + 10 mins per group for presentation & feedback

DAY 5 – Forestry

A – Revision; Forestry Systems Applications: Shelterbelts, Alleys, Orchards, Avenues, Woodlands, Blocks, Riparian
B – Forestry Systems Design & Establishment Strategies
C – Forestry Systems Management & Utilisation
D – Forestry Layer – Over 60 mins develop farm forestry concept plan + 10 mins per group for presentation & feedback

DAY 6 – Buildings

A – Revision; Building Types & Technologies: Dwellings, Sheds, Yards & Portable Livestock
B – Building placement strategies, Existing Building Analysis & Retrofitting Options
C – Lucas Portable Sawmill Practicum + Broiler Shelter Construction
D – Building Layer – Over 60 mins develop farm building concept plan + 10 mins per group for presentation & feedback

DAY 7 – Fencing

A – Revision; Fencing Technologies, Applications & Costings
B – Fencing Placement – Land Components/Structures/Livestock systems
C – Fencing Installation Practicum – with local ‘Pro’ Fencer: Build end assemblies, ‘wires & pliers’, electric net fencing, tumblewheel
D – Fencing Layer – Over 60 mins develop farm fencing concept plan + 10 mins per group for presentation & feedback

DAY 8 – Soils

A – Revision, ‘5 Ingredients for Soil Formation’ – House Envelope & SilvoPastoral Applications
B – Farm Soil Classifications & Sample Analysis: Earth Building, Earthworks & Agricultural
C – Yeomans Keyline Plow ‘Pattern Cultivation’, Survey & Set Out
D – ‘Time Poor’ Farm Garden Practicum: No Dig/Wicking Beds; Keyline Plow Forestry &
Orchard Ground Preparation
E – Holistic Management Planned Grazing – Grazing Plan Practicum

DAY 9 – Economy

A – Revision; Farm Enterprise Planning: Comparing Enterprises, Market & Resource Analysis, Complementary Enterprise Options & Liaisons, Managing & Limits to Growth & Expectations
B – Farm Enterprise Management: ‘The Team’, Interns/WWOOFERS, Apprentices, Employees/SubContractors, Terms of Reference, Job Descriptions & Contracts
C – Economy Layer – Over 90 mins prepare a Farm Enterprise & Marketing Concept Plan
D – Economy Layer – Continued from Session C – 60 mins of Farm Enterprise & Marketing Concept Plan preparation then 10 mins per group presentation & feedback

DAY 10 – Energy

A – Revision; Farm Energy Conversion & Storage Systems: Solar PV, Solar Thermal, Biomass, BioDigestor, Wind, Hydro; Analysis of suitability & applications
B – Energy Layer – Over 60 minutes prepare an Farm Energy Concept Plan + 10 mins per group presentation & feedback
C – Farm Enterprise Development & Reporting; Client & Contractor Liaisons; Prioritising Works
D – Completed REX ‘Regrarians Platform’ Concept Plan Layer Analysis & Review – Client & Participant Feedback; ‘What’s Next?’; Presentations


Darren J. Doherty has extensive experience across the world in project design, development, management & training. A career-long focus on the profitable & regenerative retrofit of broadacre landscapes has seen Darren acclaimed as a pioneer in this important & often overlooked field.

Darren is a 5th generation Bendigo region farmer, developer, author & trainer and has been involved in the design & development of nearly 2000, mostly broadacre projects across 6 continents in close to 50 countries, ranging from 1 million hectare cattle stations in Australia’s Kimberly region to 110,000 acre Estancia’s in Patagonia, EcoVillage developments in Tasmania to public:private R&D agroforestry & education projects in Viet Nam, novel AG Machinery development + family farms across the globe with a range of private, corporate, government & non-profit clients.

A true ‘integrationalist’, Darren has more recently been the originator of the Keyline® Design (2006), Carbon Farming (2006), Carbon Economy (2007), Regenerative Agriculture (along with RegenAG® {2009}) & Regrarians® (2012) course series and Regrarians® REX, ROC & RAP courses across Europe, North & South America and Oceania. This wide experience has created an international reputation of achievement plus and enviable & expansive network that integrates many disciplines. Globally many of Darren’s alumni of well over 15,000 people are at the cutting edge of the movement towards regenerative agriculture & living systems.

Darren is the originator of the Regrarians Platform process which outlines a strategic & logical process to the development of regenerative agricultural systems, and is the program extensively outlined in the Regrarians Handbook which is now being released chapter by chapter as an eBook.

Darren is married to Lisa Heenan & together they have three children, Isaebella (22), Pearl (15) & Zane (14). Lisa, Darren & Isaebella are all Directors of Regrarians Ltd., a family operated non-profit delivering consulting, events, development, AG products & multi-award winning media from the family farm in the Bendigo region of central Victoria, Australia.



Darren is the foremost farm water and hydration planner in the world.

Joel Salatin, Polyface Farm Inc. Swoope, Virginia, USA


Ecologically, Socially & Financially, Darren empowers farmers to not only be the change they wish to see in their context and community. He includes a lifetime of “walking the talk”, his knowledge, skill and experience are priceless.

Charl Crous, Farmer, South Africa


I’ve been a participant is three of Darren’s Farm Planning classes. Each time I’m pleasantly surprised by Darren’s ability to make complex information palatable using a teaching style that feels both welcoming and inclusive.

Meghan Giroux, Vermont Edible Landscapes, Bristol, Vermont, USA


In this line of work there are so many points to be taken into account when designing that it is quite easy to be swamped by what feels like an endless sea of details, variables and potential choices. For me this course felt like a culmination point of years of study and practice coming together to be organised and directed into a clear design template. The Regrarian Platform is the next major node in the regenerative agriculture movement.

Byron Joel, Oak Tree Designs, Margaret River, Western Australia


I cannot recommend highly enough Darren as a teacher, and the REX as a course for professional regenerative land design.
Integrative, structured, and to the point.

Gautier Gras, GreenSinai, Farmer, Sicily, Italy


…Not only did I gain the knowledge in how to transform a desert into an abundant landscape over broad acreage, through pragmatic, incremental and economical viable options, with a working aspiration to the vision Regrarians state in repairing the biosphere. I learned how business strategies, keyline, permaculture, holistic management have beneficial outcomes. Transform the climate of mind form one of competition to one of cooperation and self-actualisation. I cannot speak highly enough of the ethics, values, principles, practical knowledge, business skills, presentation tips, resources and leadership Darren and Lisa have given me over the years. This wisdom has empowered my career to one of regeneration in conflict zones and humanitarian projects…

Stuart Muir Wilson, Architect, Australia

‘#REX2Kansas’ 22-31 March Callicrate Cattle Company, St. Francis,
1200 acres, temperate, 18″ rainfall

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America Returns to the Jungle

A safe and secure food supply is essential to a free society

The United States was always able to feed itself. Except for a few non-essentials like coffee, tea and bananas, we were self-sufficient.

The British government, along with their corporate partner, the East India Company, saw unlimited potential to extract wealth through the American colonies. Our Founding Fathers, willing to fight for our freedom and sovereignty, risked their lives and the lives of many citizens, to save us from the servitude of the British Crown and East India Company plutocracy.

Wenonah Hauter informs us in her timely book, Foodopoly, that the U.S. is now a net food importer on a value basis. She also pulls back the curtain exposing the cartel of companies that now control America’s food supply – known as Big Food. How could this have happened in America?

Forty years ago, I graduated from Colorado State University. The curriculum taught that the U.S., with its vast resources, technology, and smart young leaders, would not only be feeding ourselves, but we would be feeding the world. Finance professors told students, “Don’t be afraid to borrow money (lots of it) – leverage is the key to success in the expanding and exciting field of agriculture.”


Hopeful and energetic students weren’t prepared for anything other than a fair, open, and competitive marketplace. There were laws to keep markets fair and competitive. Suggesting that one company or even a small group of companies could control our food supply was inconceivable. Food was considered too important to allow anyone too much control over it. After all, farmers were scattered across America, producing all kinds of food in various ways and selling into local markets. The export market was too big and exciting to even contemplate.

President Reagan sends America back to The Jungle
uptonsinclairthejungle“They [big corporations] own not merely the labor of society, they have bought the governments; and everywhere they use their raped and stolen power to entrench themselves in their privileges, to dig wider and deeper the channels through which the river of profits flows to them!”
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, 1906

In his first inaugural address on January 20, 1981, President Reagan said, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Americans cheered Reagan’s message of self-government and individual freedom over liberalism’s so-called trust in bureaucracy. The stage was set for a new kind of government, but not one of the American people, but a government of, by, and for multinational corporations. Antitrust laws and rules against abusive market power were abandoned. The way was cleared for corporations to dictate in their new no-rules Robber Baron economy, much like the one described by Upton Sinclair in his 1906 book, The Jungle.

When we lose our markets, we lose our freedom
“They were a gigantic combination of capital, which had crushed all opposition, and overthrown the laws of the land, and was preying upon the people.”
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, 1906

In 1978, from my cattle operation in Northwest Kansas, I could sell my finished cattle to as many as twenty meat packers. Today, the number is zero. Since 1996, when we filed the antitrust case against the world’s largest beef packer, IBP (In 2002, Tyson purchased IBP), over 39,000 cattle feeding operations have closed. Nearly half our ranchers have been forced out of business.

The U.S. cow herd number is the smallest in over 70 years at the same time as overall beef demand has continued to grow. Over 90% of our hog farmers and over 85% of our dairy farmers are gone. Thousands of independent meat packers and food processors have closed their shops, with vital infrastructures abandoned and/or destroyed.

“Despite the intervening century, with it’s dizzying array of technological advances and dramatic social reforms, meat and poultry processing early in the twenty-first century is regrettably reminiscent of what Sinclair (The Jungle, 1906) described early in the twentieth.”

The Kings of Big Food rule
Our nation’s biggest beef packer and poultry company is JBS, a Brazilian (state-sponsored) corporation. JBS is number two in pork after acquiring Cargill’s pork division. The largest pork company is still Smithfield, now owned by the Chinese. According to Forbes, family members of Walmart (the world’s biggest retailer) control $149 billion in wealth, about as much as 40% of Americans. Walmart now has the power to dictate terms to the world’s biggest food companies, forcing prices and wages lower to helpless farmers and workers around the world. Walmart and other big box retailers, big food service companies like Sysco, and food management firms like Sodexo hold unprecedented market power and control over distribution; far greater today than during Upton Sinclair’s 1906 Robber Baron era.

Playing the Fool’s Game
Information resulting from the IBP lawsuit revealed that even before Reagan became president the big packers had already agreed to cooperate rather than compete. So around the time (1978) I was busily building a new feedyard near St. Francis, Kansas, the big packers were already working together to manipulate prices, reduce competition and concentrate and consolidate the markets – digging “wider and deeper the channels through which the river of profits flowed to them.”

Monopoly – The enemy of capitalism and democracy
After eight years of fighting our way to the court room, the jury awarded the cattlemen $1.28 billion in the Tyson/IBP lawsuit. Almost before we boarded the plane home, the Reagan appointed judge, insulting both the jury and cattlemen, reversed the jury verdict. The judge then ordered us to pay $80,000 to Tyson for their court costs.

“…the price of dressed meat had increased nearly fifty per cent in the last five years, while the price of “beef on the hoof” had decreased as much, it would have seemed that the packers ought to be able to pay; but the packers were unwilling to pay…”

The de-reg-minded-John-Roberts-led Supreme Court refused to hear the cattlemen’s case, preferring to hear the Anna Nicole Smith family feud case, forsaking any hope of getting the much needed injunctive relief that would have led to restoring competition to livestock markets. Legal scholars argued it was the most important case concerning livestock producers in the last 100 years. The court’s refusal to hear the case gave the green light to the big meat packers to increase their plunder and pillage of the largest sector of American agriculture.

“It drove men to madness and suicide. It had forced the price of cattle so low as to destroy the stock raising industry, an occupation upon which whole states existed…” – The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, 1906

Live cattle prices have recently again plummeted, costing cattle feeders a historic loss of over $500 per head while retail beef prices remain basically unchanged. Today’s price collapse for cattle feeders represents what eight cent hogs did to pig farmers in 1998. Ninety percent of our nation’s pig farmers, nearly all of them family farmers, went out of business while retail pork prices were basically unaffected – once again, without a word from government law enforcers.

Our Big Food controlled Congress recently voted to repeal Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) so importers can sell meat to unknowing consumers. Meanwhile, Big Food’s own USDA is announcing plans to further increase imports of low quality, cheap beef and pork from South American regions known to be infected with “Hoof and Mouth” or “Mad Cow” disease, making wider and deeper the channels of trade, controlled particularly by JBS and other multinational corporations. Additional announcements include more beef from “Hoof and Mouth”-infected areas of Africa and cheap chicken from China.

Local food to the rescue? – Maybe not
Discerning consumers seeking to support higher quality, healthier local food from farmers they can know and trust are having a difficult time figuring out what’s real. The Real Food Challenge, an organization uniting students for just and sustainable food, is fighting to eliminate industrially produced food from school menus. They define real food as food that is produced locally, in ways that are ecologically sound, fair, and humane for both people and animals.

The Antitrust Division of the U.S. Justice Department wasn’t the only place Reagan gutted critical government oversite. Along with other government agencies, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was neutered, becoming an obedient lapdog to corporate giants like Walmart and Monsanto. After years of looking the other way at clearly anti-competitive mergers, the FTC recently said no to the number one food service company, Sysco, buying the number two food service company, U.S. Foods. Extortion schemes, kickbacks, and widespread predatory pricing continue unchecked.

Consumers are easily deceived as the corporate wolves wrap themselves in pictures of small family farms, hiding their corporate agenda behind images of farmers and small businesses. They mislead with slogans like USDA’s “Know your farmer, know your food” and Chipotle’s “Food with integrity”. Big Food’s well healed advocates like Farm Bureau, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Pork Producers constantly morph new lobbying organizations with nice sounding names like the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance and the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. They even go so far as to advocate for constitutional changes that threaten our sovereignty and security, benefiting foreign governments and corporations over the interests of U.S. citizens. A so-called “Right to Farm” measure passed in Missouri last year giving China and their pork company, Smithfield, special privileges over the state’s family farmers and rural communities. A similar measure will soon be on the ballot in Oklahoma.

The fool’s game continues today in the local food movement. The more pressure we apply for change, the more resistance we face. Until the predators in the marketplace are brought under control, and until USDA goes to work for the people, little hope exists for new entrants in the “new” local food movement.

USDA – Probably not what President Lincoln had in mind
“We used to trim the shit off the meat.
Then we washed the shit off the meat.
Now the consumer eats the shit off the meat.
David Carney, USDA Meat Inspector from Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U. S. Meat Industry by Gail A. Eisnitz, 1997″

The October 2015 Consumer Reports found that out of 300 packages of ground beef from grocery stores across the country. almost all showed fecal contamination.

“On May 15, 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed into law an act of Congress establishing “at the seat of Government of the United States a Department of Agriculture.” Two and one-half years later, in what was to be his last annual message to the Congress, Lincoln said: “The Agricultural Department, under the supervision of its present energetic and faithful head, is rapidly commending itself to the great and vital interest it was created to advance. It is precisely the people’s Department, in which they feel more directly concerned that in any other. I commend it to the continued attention and fostering care of Congress.”
– Lincoln’s Agricultural Legacy,
by Wayne D. Rasmussen

“The USDA had developed previous regulatory policies in a ‘vacuum of scientific research,’ failed to check the public health impact of new technologies that drastically increased contamination levels, and skewed testing methods to produce planned results.” – Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U. S. Meat Industry by Gail A. Eisnitz, 1997

President Lincoln strongly warned of corporate power. His desire for USDA to develop the “full capacity of the soil” has been betrayed. Instead of building healthy soils, and producing good food from thriving rural communities, USDA has aided in turning agriculture into a mining operation for extracting natural and human resources. With USDA’s permission, today’s industrial agriculture squanders precious water for corporate profits, replaces animal husbandry with animal science, and stewardship with destruction. Small producers and processors, known for safe and wholesome food, are being intimidated, harassed, and suffocated under costly USDA regulations and useless paperwork. Meanwhile the biggest food corporations continue on, unregulated, to sicken us with their dirty and fake food from wherever it can be found the cheapest, while polluting the environment and mistreating humans and animals. The “great and vital interest” of the people has been hijacked!

A healthier, more just and responsible farming and food system is possible
Words like regenerative, restorative, responsible and community come to mind when I think about what’s needed today. A co-opted word like sustainable doesn’t work anymore – who would want to sustain this badly broken and corrupt food system?

For a better agricultural economy and food system to evolve, we must breakup the concentrated power of Big Food. Instead of the five year Farm Bill, we need a permanent Food Bill that involves all eaters, especially farming families and agricultural and processing workers, setting truly good food and ag policy. Our land grant colleges need taxpayer support, rather than sending them begging from and selling out to big agribusiness.

Ironically, today’s corporate controlled government IS the problem. To defeat this abusive freedom sucking power we must first stop supporting it with our money. Supporting local producers and locally owned businesses, rather than Wall Street and multinational corporate interests, will begin the rebuilding of new local economies. To support what is in our own common and long term self-interest, we must see a significant shift from rampant price shopping consumerism back to responsible consumption and good citizenship. So, as American citizens, can we at least begin the journey back to freedom by growing our own food?

Additional Reading:
Tyson Foods’ Secret Recipe for Carving Up Workers’ Comp
What Do Horses and Beavers Have in Common? They May Both Be in Your Burger
The Cheap, Imported Shrimp Americans Love Is the Product of Slave Labor
AP: Global supermarkets selling shrimp peeled by slaves
Leading Thai seafood boss: AP shrimp probe ‘wake-up call’

Why has trace back to the source taken so long?
FSIS FINALIZES GROUND BEEF TRACE-BACK RULE: The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service released a final rule Monday aimed at making it easier to trace contaminated meat back to its source. The new rule will mandate that makers of raw ground beef products keep detailed records of the source materials going into their product “so that the agency can quickly work with the suppliers to recall contaminated product” if there is a problem. The rule “complements” expedited trace-back and -forward procedures that the USDA announced in August 2014, the agency said. A copy of the 81-page final rule. Read the USDA’s meat-tracing procedures from last year.

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Letter to Congressman Lamborn Concerning FSA and Recall – A Plea for sanity!

November 5, 2015

U.S. Congressman Doug Lamborn
District Office
1125 Kelly Johnson Blvd. Suite 330
Colorado Springs, CO 80920

Dear Congressman Lamborn,

USDA has been conducting a Food Safety Assessment (FSA) at Good Food Concepts, owner of Ranch Foods Direct, since October 13, 2015, a process originally scheduled to conclude in a week’s time. Upon finding some minor mistakes in labeling, USDA suspended our operations and launched a Class One recall for over 12,000 pounds of product.

Food Safety Inspection Service Officer Jenifer Monteverde first asked for records of sales for the past three months on products that were missing some required labels. Not finding enough volume of product in that span, she requested documentation for an entire year. She lacked any evidence of incorrect labeling practices for this extended period.

We have had management changes over the past year that resulted in changes within our operations. The labeling problem involved mostly the improper use of the USDA Mark of Inspection in the retail store. The retail store by law is exempt from USDA inspection, but, as you know, is located in the same building as the USDA inspected plant. Employees simply failed to change the label stock, which contains the USDA mark, when labeling retail product. There was never any risk to anyone’s health.

Wholesale product labeling issues cited included a product in process that didn’t have the ingredient label applied yet. There was a corned beef brisket that left the plant without the ingredient label and it was returned. A simple corrective action to our HACCP plan and a label would have easily corrected that issue.

At most, I believe an NR (Non-Compliance Report) was appropriate, but certainly not a Class One recall.

It’s important to note that our permanent USDA inspector, Dr. Kent Daniels, was sent to Durango during the assessment and was not allowed to provide any assistance. We feel this was inappropriate and resulted in overzealous action on the part of USDA. While Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack clearly promotes local food systems, it’s also true that a business model like ours that uses processing space for both wholesale and direct-to-consumer sales is something existing meat inspection personnel doesn’t normally see.

On November 4, FSIS Supervisor Dr. Debra Klages was at our facility suggesting another recall over our USDA-approved Wagyu label. I have attached the letter I provided to the FSIS officers describing our breeding program, which included contact information for people we deal with for Wagyu breeding stock, as further proof that our breeding program is what we say it is. They deemed this letter unacceptable.

I was only given a few hours to provide the documentation. In addition to the letter from Callicrate Cattle Co. (attached) I also told the FSIS officers that I had left messages with other people who could help provide third party verification.

The FSIS officers on-site seemed hell-bent on issuing the Wagyu recall despite the fact that no Wagyu beef had been sold in the wholesale market, which is the part of our business that is under USDA’s authority. Late that very same afternoon, the FSIS officers notified us that due to RFD’s “lack of cooperation” our Grant of Inspection was once again suspended and our Wagyu beef would be recalled immediately.

However, later that same day, I finally received a message from Dr. Matt Cherni verifying Callicrate Cattle Company’s long history of raising Wagyu and Wagyu-cross cattle. After forwarding the following message, we received a call canceling the suspension and recall.

Wednesday, November 04

This is a message to confirm that Mike Callicrate has been producing Wagyu feeder calves since the early 2000’s. I helped Mike acquire Wagyu bulls in 2003 Gerry Pittenger had used at the Padlock Ranch in Dayton Wyoming. Gerry was one of the early importers of Wagyu cattle into the United States from Japan in the early 1990’s. Gerry upgraded that bunch of cattle into non- registered purebred cattle by the late nineties. I bought cattle from Gerry and have been producing non-registered purebreds ever since.

I sold Wagyu bulls out of my cows purchased from Gerry as well. The last bulls I sold Mike was around six years ago. I also informed Mike of a set of cows that might work for his operation a few years ago. I know that Mike has been producing Wagyu feeder calves for many years.


Matthew J Cherni, MS, DVM President CSC Livestock LLC

Rash business suspensions and product recalls have the power to destroy small businesses like ours. While the inspectors seek to prove their judiciousness in finding any and every potential problem, to us it feels like abusive, overzealous, heavy-handed regulation rather than guidance and assistance to make us a better operation or to keep the public safe. Instead of getting concise and consistent directives, our managers and employees were confronted with what quickly became a very confusing and stressful situation.

Ranch Foods Direct has a 15-year history of providing safe and wholesome products and should demonstrate to other innovators and entrepreneurs what is possible rather than become a cautionary tale of how a huge investment can be destroyed overnight at the whim of a single inspector whose fault-finding directly contradicts the oversight of another seasoned inspector.

Mike Callicrate

Good Food Concepts, LLC (Ranch Foods Direct) is voluntarily recalling a limited number of products processed between October 16, 2014 and October 16, 2015. These products have labels with incomplete ingredient information. There have been no reports of illness or other adverse consequences in connection with these products.

A routine Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) audit found that the product labels did not include sodium nitrite, a preservative commonly used in smoked and processed products. This recall applies to less than 13,000 pounds of product.

Good Food Concepts will accept any unused products on the recall list (attached) for a full refund. Corrective action is underway, and the company is contacting all wholesale customers that have purchased these products in the past year.

Good Food Concepts processing operations have been performed under the supervision of knowledgeable USDA inspectors. Good Food Concepts makes every effort to abide by the regulations of CFR Title 9, which governs the USDA inspection process.


Wagyu Breeding program at Callicrate Cattle Co 11-04-15



Letter to Congressman Lamborn Concerning FSA and recall 11-05-15



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