From: Mike Callicrate, Callicrate Feedyard, St. Francis, KS
February 19, 1998
Cattlemen for Oprah
U.S. cattle producers care about the consumer and are very concerned about the safety, quality and consistency of U.S. beef. U.S. cattle are produced under the highest standards of safety and quality in the world. U.S. cattlemen are the world’s most active environmentalists striving everyday to preserve a safe, healthful and sustainable environment for future generations.
We produce it, but we can’t buy it.
Thanks to the highly touted “global economy” and the few huge multi-national corporations that control and orchestrate the global trade, U.S. producers and consumers are being denied access to their own high quality produce. The multi-nationals cream the best beef off and export it at high prices, leaving the lower quality leftovers to be blended with imported product. The imported beef is brought across the U.S. borders, mostly non-inspected and at below breakeven prices for both the exporting and importing countries producers. Low fixed prices paid by the multi-nationals are exploiting and driving beef producers around the globe, out of business. This imported product is then blended, ground and mixed with the higher quality U.S. trimmings and sold as hamburger here in the U.S.; one of the highest priced consuming markets in the world.
It’s not labeled.
We are all at risk. The food we eat and feed to our children, is not required to be labeled by country of origin. The origin of the food borne illnesses of the past year, have, for the most part gone unidentified. Countries we export beef to, saw their labeling laws pay off when deadly e-coli tainted beef was discovered in Korea. U.S. based IBP, the world’s largest packer was found to be responsible.
What can we do?
We have asked for labeling laws. Our very own cattleman’s representative, the National Cattleman’s Beef Association has worked to accommodate the importers by suggesting hamburger be excluded from labeling. Hamburger is the problem. Potentially deadly bacteria, resulting from unsafe and improper processing can contaminate the surface of the meat. When it is ground and mixed into hamburger, the bacteria is no longer on the surface. This is the reason proper cooking of this contaminated meat is important. Big business’s answer to the problem is irradiation. One Texas producer said, “With irradiation, whole hog sausage may become a reality. In fact, now the big packers can kill cattle even faster and cheaper with irradiation to cover their mistakes.”
Our vote isn’t heard.
Ophra, we care about all consumers. We producers are such a small percent of the population that we need you and all your listeners to help us in demanding a better system of food processing and distribution, a system not controlled by big business. We have heard a lot about food safety lately, but government officials are having a hard time doing the right things with the extreme pressures of big business. We need to eliminate the predatory middleman who seems to have a bigger voice than his vote in Washington.