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R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America “Fighting for the U.S. Cattle Producer”

For Immediate Release                                                                              

September 13, 2011     

Contact: Bill Bullard, CEO

Phone:  406-252-2516; e-mail: r-calfusa@r-calfusa.com

 * * MEDIA ADVISORY * *      News Conference 

What:     R-CALF USA news conference to address the EPA’s enforcement action to pressure small- and mid-sized cattle feeders out of business by declaring hay a pollutant 

The news conference will highlight ongoing efforts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to not only ignore the unique needs and interests of small- to mid-sized cattle feedlots and other cattle operation; but worse, to exact intense, unreasonable and unwarranted regulatory enforcement actions against those smaller operations to facilitate big agribusinesses’ desire to rapidly concentrate and consolidate the entire U.S. live cattle industry.   

When:   1 p.m. CDT on Tuesday, September 20, 2011 

Where:  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 Industries.

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 operations.” 

“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: 

R-CALF USA Legal Fund
P.O. Box 30715
Billings, MT  59107 

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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.   

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                            This page was last updated on Wednesday, September 14, 2011.