What’s Smart About USDA and the New Climate Grants?

Why pay the corporations that broke it, and depend on it staying broken, to fix it?

USDA is captured by the same corporations it was created to regulate.

It’s painful to see grant money, not just wasted, but used against small businesses in support of the criminal global food cartel.

The administration’s Climate Smart local/regional infrastructure plan is a good idea, but has essentially no chance without actual support.

The small owner-operated plants that stepped up and filled supply chain gaps left by the conglomerates during the pandemic continue to struggle and fail. The deck continues to be stacked against these more efficient, and resilient meat plants. The administration’s Climate Smart local/regional infrastructure plan is a good idea, but has essentially no chance without actual support. More than two years after the corporate food system meltdown, followed by an executive order promising change, the administration has done nothing about the broken and predatory marketplace, fraudulent meat labeling, an onerous and ineffective meat inspection system, and below cost of production, price depressing meat imports.

Instead of funding real solutions around resilient local/regional food systems, USDA is providing funds to the same companies that have been extracting valuable resources and pillaging our land stewards and husbandmen for the last 50 years. Why not fund the existing proven concepts like White Oak Pastures and Gunthorp Farms?

Click here to see where your Climate Smart money is going.

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Better Meat Requires Building Connections With New Food Partners

Comparing Local/Regional Meatpacking Infrastructure to Large Centralized Slaughter Plants

Nearly 500 30-head-a-day multi-species slaughter plants, with a combined single shift capacity of 14,000, could be built for the cost of the proposed Sustainable Beef/Walmart plant in North Platte, Nebraska. Additional benefits to the lower cost of this model are:

  • Better for animals – The Callicrate plant design locates slaughter facilities where animals are raised, reducing stress and shrink.
  • Better for workers: Skilled, well compensated butchers, are more efficient, processing more animals per worker per day, while working at a safe pace in the simple and low cost plant design.
  • Better for the environment – More responsible resource management: 30 to 50 gallons of water per animal processed, compared to over 700 gallons for the big plants. Slaughter waste is an asset, not a liability. It is composted onsite into valuable fertilizer. Reducing food miles – fewer and larger slaughter plants has meant animals now travel much further to slaughter.
  • Better food safety and quality: Beef carcasses are properly aged, producing a safer, more consistent, higher quality product.
  • Better for small business – Small community butcher shops process carcasses into final retail and wholesale cuts, eliminating “The Box.”
  • Better for Producers: Selling more direct, bypassing the meatpacker/retail/foodservice cartel, provides more income for producers. Producers selling direct can earn nearly 80% of the consumer beef dollar, compared to 37% selling to big meatpackers.
  • Better for communities: The Callicrate decentralized model is simple, affordable and regenerative. It conserves and better manages resources, while retaining far more of the wealth created through agriculture in rural communities instead of distant financial centers.

Why build more packing plants designed around the extractive industrial model?

Local/regional supply chains provide healthier, more sustainable food options, feeding producers, workers, and communities instead of corporations. Well designed local/regional food systems are less vulnerable to disruption, providing the critical food security lost from decades of food system concentration and hyper-globalization.

What does a better meat industry look like?

Design by Teegan Callicrate, Callicrate Manufacturing, St. Francis, Kansas

Skilled butchers processing carcasses means better jobs, affordable prices, and safer, higher quality food for communities, both rural and urban.

Connecting the Community at the Source of Their Food

Producers, makers, and consumers gather around good food from the community and region.


Buying your own hanging rope? Why would cattle producers invest in Walmart’s supply chain?

Meatpacking infrastructure of the future

Industrial Agriculture and Urban Sprawl – A model of growth that’s made to fail.

Packer Concentration in the Beef Industry, By Kathleen S. Kelley

How “The Box” captured the meat industry

Story of the Steer – Big meatpackers and retailers trade lower efficiency for higher profits

Dear President Biden – Regarding Food System Reform

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Meatpacking Infrastructure of the Future

Will new meatpacking investment serve people or corporations?

Walmart announced this week that they were buying a minority interest in the proposed North Platte, Nebraska slaughter plant, Sustainable Beef.

The $325 million dollar project with the support of Walmart, and now projected to cost more money, plans to break ground next month, but is this the right direction for the industry and cattle producer investors?

The pandemic taught many painful lessons about the fragility of highly concentrated supply chains, dangers that many of us old enough to remember a more decentralized and competitive marketplace, with many buyers and many sellers, warned against.

Big retailers and food service companies got caught in the price gouging of the big-four meatpackers, losing the fat margins that years of concentrating the retail and food service sectors had given them.

Cattle producers make the investment, Walmart gets the returns.

The current administration laid out a post pandemic plan for rebuilding a more resilient and sustainable meat supply chain, but will the plan have a chance if it doesn’t serve the interests of Big Food?

For the last fifty or so years, the industrial “big is better” mentality ruled. Early warnings came from the highly respected economist, Harold Breimyer as he, “… sketched the possibility that all production and marketing might be integrated up to the retailing level: Carried to a distant and perhaps never-to-be-realized but still logical extreme, present trends could well mean that competitive independence may one day be restricted basically to the retailing segment. Breimyer, pp 287-288.

Perhaps never-to-be-realized? Well, we have arrived.

Chris Clayton summarized the various meat plant projects, including Sustainable Beef, in his recent article, Walmart and Beef’s Vertical Integration. Of concern to me was the massive amounts of investment by both government and private investors in facilities that depend on a low wholesale price while failing to recapture the lost retail share of the consumer dollar for producers.

Additionally, the cost per head of daily production is many times higher compared to a more decentralized local/regional infrastructure like Callicrate Cattle Co.

Unlike the large plant projects designed for national distribution, Callicrate Cattle Company is designed to serve the needs of Ranch Foods Direct and local producers. RFD is a small local/regional direct-to-consumer meat company in Colorado Springs, Colorado  delivering up to 79% of the consumer beef dollar back to the farm and ranch gate, while selling at big box prices. This is compared to approximately 37 percent producer share through the existing highly concentrated and extractive system, and 65% in 1975, the last time the finished cattle market was competitive.

If the industrial model is so low cost and efficient, why does the producer receive so little of the consumer retail dollar?

Consider some of the other differences:

Callicrate processes animals onsite, lowering stress levels and improving meat quality. Shipping to distant slaughterhouses is expensive. A 200 mile trip will cost the producer around $35/hd. with today’s shipping rates.

Callicrate ships carcasses, rather than live animals, essentially eliminating the cost of boxing beef:

Why box the beef? Instead of putting primal cuts into boxes, hang and age longer and cut directly into higher value retail cuts.

Slaughter waste becomes valuable soil nutrients in the onsite Callicrate composting system.

Workers at the Callicrate facility are higher skilled and more efficient than the unskilled, often refugee, workers at the large plants. In 1980, journeyman level butchers at G&C Packing Co. in Colorado Springs, with a four person crew, could hang up ten head of beef per person per day in a simple low cost cradle system. Today, according to published capacity and employment figures, unskilled workers at Tyson’s Dakota City and Holcomb beef plants average less than 1.6 beef animals per worker per day.

Callicrate Cattle Co., invests in and retains more dollars in the St. Francis, Kansas and Colorado Springs communities.

I think it’s clear that the smaller plant approach better serves producers, consumers, and communities, is more sustainable and resilient, while being far less expensive to build. We should give up the idea that everything must be scalable to suit companies like Walmart.

For more:

Let’s say goodby to Smithfield and Big Food

What Could $300 Million Dollars Do?





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The Masters of the Food Universe are Happy to See Us Starve.

The names may have changed over the years, but psychopathic business leaders continue to consolidate power around the world’s food supply and means of production.

Will Harris with White Oak Pastures hits the mark on why people like Bill Gates should not be allowed landlord status.

“These technologies have made it possible for a small number of multinational corporations to have control over the entire planet’s food supply. Further, the centralization of food production impoverishes our rural communities …” – Will Harris

The elimination of small farms has been deeply ingrained in policy for decades, led by The Committee for Economic Development. Many of the biggest corporations in the country organized the effort and legislated agriculture policy to move “excess” labor from the farm to the city to provide cheaper labor for manufacturing and industrial growth. Women were also moved into the workforce.

Secretary Earl Butz, under Nixon, implemented the Committee’s policy of “Get big or get out.” Reagan removed even more anti-trust barriers, allowing today’s full blown food monopoly and loss of food security for people around the globe.

Excerpt from the The Committee for Economic Development report:

“We regard direct help to farm people in finding better opportunities in the nonfarm labor force as necessary and desirable, because we believe that a small fraction of the funds now spent on agricultural subsidies would, if spent in ways that tended positively to induce the needed movement of human resources out of farming, result in higher national income and lower national outlays on subsidies.”

“4. As we emphasized in the early portions of this statement, it is the very heart of the farm problem that a massive adjustment needs to be made in the human resources now committed to agricultural production. Small adjustments in the farm labor force will not suffice.

“What we have in mind in our program is a reduction of the farm labor force on the order of one third in a period of not more than five-years.

This, we think, would be large enough and fast enough to offset the effects on farm output of new technology and investment. It would thereby contribute to the basic goal of a net reduction of the resources — human and other — now employed in farming.”

Why our Founding Fathers feared powerful landlords and believed farmers should own their land:

The Irish Land War was an organized campaign of civil unrest in Ireland that lasted from the 1870s until the 1890s.

 Rigged markets and concentrated power continue to force farmers and ranchers to sell their land to the new landlords.

Are we really hoping Bill Gates will feed us?

The Committee for Economic Development carefully planned the farm policy that’s left us with a global food cartel, bankrupted farm and ranch families, and many starving people.The complete report that’s led to the current food system debacle follows:

CED An Adaptive Program for Agriculture
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How Farmers Are Getting Shafted By Monopolies – Robert Reich

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