Who is Bob Peterson?

During my presentation at the annual R-CALF convention, I asked the question, “How many of you have heard of Bob Peterson?” Very few, mostly those around my age, raised their hands. It’s not surprising considering its been 27 years since 1996, the year of the South Dakota Governors Conference, and when Bob Peterson was President and CEO of IBP, the nations biggest meatpacker.

My point in asking the question was to help people understand what happened to their markets and why the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has been so supportive of the big meatpackers fleecing of our ranchers and cow-calf producers.

The year 1996 was also the year we filed the antitrust lawsuit against IBP. The case finally made it to trial in 2004 with the jury awarding the cattlemen $1.28 billion. The trial judge reversed the jury verdict and made the cattlemen pay Tyson’s court costs. We lost the jury award and any hope of the injunctive relief that would have stopped the big meatpacker stealing.

Yes, I said Tyson. During the conference, Dr. William Heffernan warned Peterson, that even IBP, may not be big enough to compete with global conglomerates. He was right. Five years later, IBP, the largest beef packer in the world, sold to the biggest chicken producer, Tyson.

For some history on how we got here:



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How Cows Can Save The World

Cows and other ruminate animals are a gift to humanity and the world with their ability to transform inedible plants into highly nutritious human food, while at the same time improving the environment. We need a lot more of them on the planet.

So how do we bring back cows, land stewardship, animal husbandry, and the ability to feed ourselves?

See the following presentation by clicking on the arrows on the right and left side of the images.

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Local/Regional Meat Plants are Failing – Food Security is National Security.

The pandemic exposed the many failures and empty grocery shelves of our highly concentrated and consolidated food system. The Biden administration said, in the interest of food security, “Let’s build back better.”

Millions of dollars have been directed to building new infrastructure, but unfortunately the administration didn’t get the permission from the big-food cartel to allow market access to the existing small plants that showed amazing resilience under pandemic pressure, or the new local/regional processors that have been built since, or who foolishly expanded operations post pandemic. And critically, President Biden didn’t get buy-in from USDA leadership, or USDA’s career employees who hold primary allegiance to big-food.

Big-food is stealing from producers, exploiting workers, destroying rural communities, and price gouging  consumers (not inflation), while government bows to the interests of criminals and the concentrated wealth and power of the global food cartel.

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Imports and deception threaten new local/regional meat plants

Rather than supporting our own U.S. cattle producers and local/regional meat plants, beef from other countries is receiving preference from USDA and big food companies. Below-cost-of-production imported beef is blended with cheap fat from over-fed cattle, and Lean Finely Textured Beef (aka pink slime), a low-cost ammonia washed byproduct of boxed beef, is added at around 10 to 12 percent of final weight.

The blended product appears as “Product of the USA” on the price lists of food service companies and big processors selling to big-box retailers, restaurants, institutions, including fast food, retirement homes, schools, hospitals, food banks, etc., at below $2.50 per pound. It’s roughly half the cost of the high quality domestically produced ground beef from local/regional plants, leaving the small plants which the Biden administration claims to support, to go broke, drowning in their beef trim.

There are many meat companies across the country selling this cheap burger blend, replacing the higher cost, and far higher quality product from local/regional processors.

See the following note from a food manager who works with retirement communities on the Front Range of Colorado:

Hi Mike,

Here’s some pricing on ground beef. Facilities typically go with the cheapest option. I    highlighted a few that are commonly purchased:

In 1998 a DNA analysis showed 1082 animals were represented in a typical fast food quarter-pound burger patty. It would most likely be more today as sourcing has become more global and processing is more centralized and concentrated.

Following the pandemic food system collapse, the Biden administration pledged to support more sustainable, and resilient local/regional food system development. The plan is failing to deliver.

*See Mike Callicrate’s presentation from the 2023 R-CALF meeting in South Dakota here:

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(Video from Slide #4)

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From Great American Prairie to Dried Up Industrial Wasteland

The first settlers came upon a vast grassland teaming with ruminant animals and wildlife. Rivers flowed from the mountain peaks to the west, bringing precious water and life to the prairie land, and filling one of the largest, and what has become one of the most important underground sources of water in the world – The Ogallala Aquifer.

Today, the Ogallala Aquifer is being mined far beyond its recharge rate by some of the largest and most predatory corporations in the world, filling their bank accounts, rewarding their shareholders, and leaving us with dry wells, broken communities, and blowing dirt.

The picture is too clear on this 29th day of May, 2023 – From the center of the Ogallala Aquifer at Garden City, Kansas, to the edge of the Aquifer west of Lamar, the land is suffering from poor stewardship and abusive extraction of resources.

From Kansas to Hope, Arizona, to California, why are we squandering this most precious resource?

Also see:
Salt, Water, and Soil – When it’s gone, they leave
Industrial Agriculture and Urban Sprawl – A Model of growth that’s made to fail.
The Current State of U.S. Agriculture and Food Infrastructure, and Solutions
VICE: Meathooked and End of Water

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