North Platte Bulletin: Farmers, ranchers: Endangered occupations

Farmers, ranchers: Endangered occupations

by Pam Potthoff – 11/16/2016
Courtesy Photo­Image

Mike Callicrate

Mike Callicrate from the Organization for Competitive Markets addressed Women Involved in Farm Economics at their national convention in Sidney during the first week of November.

Callicrate, a farmer-rancher, business entrepreneur and family farm advocate from St. Francis, Kan. reminded WIFE that farmers and ranchers are becoming an endangered species.

The U.S. has lost half of its farmers, 90% of its hog farmers, and 80% of its dairy farmers in the last 30 years, he said.

If the farm way of life is to remain, Callicrate suggested maybe we should raise less corn and cattle and more hell.

In particular, Callicrate stated there is a limited market for our cattle. Concentration in the meat processing industry has eliminated the cash market and, through intimidation and retaliation, has made it difficult for anyone who challenges the status quo to find a bid for fat cattle. He called this the “chickenization” of beef.

This stranglehold on cattle feeders has trickled down to create prices in feeder cattle that have dropped by half from highs of just a few years ago.

Callicrate’s answer to no bids for his livestock was to go around big food, create his own meat processing plant and grow a retail business. His mobile slaughter unit means that animals never get on a truck, undergo less handling and get more humane treatment with less stress.

Callicrate contends the result was a tastier carcass.

The mobile slaughter unit allows slaughter waste to be utilized in the areas where the beef are raised, and it creates employment in rural areas and there is 37% less weight to haul because only the carcass is transported.

Callicrate emphasized how important a cottage bill is, because it allows small producers to grow, process and sell food from their own farm or garden without a whole bunch of regulations and red tape. His retail business in Colorado Springs, Colo. works closely with local producers.

WIFE is a grassroots organization dedicated to promoting prosperity in agriculture through legislative, educational, and cooperative methods.

WIFE is celebrating 40 years in 2016.