Representing the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM), beef producer Mike Callicrate appeared on AgriTalk radio Tuesday to discuss the organization’s lawsuit against USDA and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, which seeks to end NCBA’s role as a beef checkoff contractor. NCBA’s CEO Forest Roberts provided a response.
In the lawsuit filed on Aug 10 in Kansas City, Callicrate and OCM claim that some of the $200 million NCBA has received over the years as a checkoff contractor has been misspent, and diverted to promote policy rather than research and promotion. They also charge those policies are intended to help large packers and processors at the expense of family farmers and ranchers.
Some of the most interesting discussion related to Callicrate and OCM’s alliance with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which has been widely reported in trade media.
“HSUS came to us knowing our policy of fighting for family farmers and ranchers and a fair income at the farm and ranch gate,” he says. “They said we have some things in common.”
Ninety-five percent of HSUS supporters eat meat.” He adds. “They just don’t want to eat the NCBA’s version of meat . They don’t want to eat meat from these big meatpacking plants with fast chains, with contaminated meat, where workers have to speak 110 different languages, where they are treated as a disposable resource, where they are exploited.
“They don’t like the way animals are treated under the Smithfield-Tyson-JBS-Cargill model of food production. So they said ‘hey, we like the family farm and ranch model, we want to support that, what can we do to help?’ And of course we opened a dialog. We aren’t going to turn them away because someone said one time they are anti animal agriculture. They’ve been called an animal rights group. They are not that, they are an animal welfare group, and I’m in complete alignment with their philosophy that animals should be treated humanely – as well as people.”
Callicrate goes on to say HSUS is working to try to build a humane economy where people are given the opportunity to succeed and to be in business without monopoly power putting them out of business.
“I honestly don’t care where they’ve been. I want to know where they are going, and if they’re there to support me in my effort to reestablish a marketplace that’s fair and just, around family farm and ranch agriculture, then I am willing to work with them. They do not have a vegan agenda, they do not have a vegetarian agenda.”