Feeding Our Families and Our Farmers

I write some funny stories, some serious stories, some recipes and some opinions.  This one is just plain important.  And I didn’t write it.

It’s by Mike Callicrate of Ranch Foods Direct, he wrote it for The Colorado Catholic Herald.

Please read it.  It will cause you to continue to think about where your food comes from…and how important it is to buy locally produced food and support local farmers and ranchers.

HERALD EXCLUSIVE: Op-ed by Mike Callicrate — “Feeding Our Ranchers and Our Farmers”

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This op-ed, written for the Herald, will appear in the Oct. 7 issue.)

Feeding Our Families and Our Farmers

By MIKE CALLICRATE

“You’ll never look at dinner the same way again.”

Food Inc. film

Since the 2008 film Food Inc. pulled back the curtain on industrial food production, corporate agribusiness has been scrambling, doing damage control. A food system that destroyed family farming and left rural main streets with little more than dollar stores and good-will charities, while making people sick and poisoning the environment, has suddenly been revealed on the big screen to large audiences of unsuspecting eaters.

The big food conglomerate has set up a facade organization deceptively named the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA). “When did agriculture become a dirty word?” they ask. In an affront to the real farmers and ranchers that currently produce good food, practice humane treatment of animals and care for the environment, USFRA intends to hide the repulsive truth about industrial agriculture behind the trusted image earned over decades by small-scale family farmers and ranchers. The $30 million dollar campaign is as phony as their food.

Before Food Inc. and a number of other popular books and films sharply critiqued the modern food system gone haywire, most eaters didn’t realize how what they chose to eat impacted the well-being of their community, the natural world and their own health. Most people thought the government was looking out for them.

Unhealthy food from massive industrial operations has made it to our plates because government agencies created to protect us have been captured by big agribusiness. Their executives enjoy first-class travel from the corporate boardroom to high positions in government bureaucracy and back again. Government agencies now serve corporate interests instead of our common good.

An example is the recent Environmental Protection Agency order issued against my cattle operation (see story on page 15). Without communicating with the state Department of Health and Environment, and without discussion or questions, EPA sent out a national news release and compliance order that blindsided me with four dubious violations. While ignoring the massive pollution of factory farming operations, over-use of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide on large farms, spraying of insecticides that harm honey bees, and contamination of water aquifers by hydraulic gas fracturing, EPA — without due process — cited my tidy, sustainably managed cattle operation, threatening fines of $37,500 per day per violation.

We quickly acknowledged some errors in record keeping and promised corrections would be made immediately. EPA ordered that runoff from the area where our hay and other feed commodities are stored should be “contained,” even though the state agency approved our current design more than 25 years ago, seeing no problem. EPA also cited one water retention structure (pond) as lacking sufficient storage capacity. A design change was on file at the state agency converting the structure to a settling basin allowing overflow into a larger oversized structure. The EPA didn’t ask. The state agency worked with us in locating a new composting area for our mobile slaughter waste, which the EPA faulted for being outside the “controlled area.”

But, here’s the most important part: EPA demands that we do frequent nutrient analysis — including soil, manure and water — and record it all. Then, we need their permission to apply our own natural fertilizer on our own land. As owner-managed, civic-minded businesses, we are focused on growing things and caring for our land and livestock. Large profit-driven, politically connected companies can hire experts to take care of regulatory paperwork, file reports to shareholders, deal with their bad food recalls and manage their image in the media.

Is it any wonder small businesses like mine struggle to keep the doors open, while big corporations continue to get bigger?

In the last 30 years, 90 percent of our pork producers, more than 80 percent of our dairymen, and more than 40 percent of our ranchers have been driven out of business. Is this what we want?

The food producing communities across rural America that provide good food every day and provide stewardship for our land and animals are being crushed under the boot of global agribusiness and rogue government agencies.

Family farmers and ranchers want to feed your family. Remember, what you support — prospers; what you feed — grows.

(Callicrate runs a cattle ranch in St. Francis, Kan., and owns Ranch Foods Direct in Colorado Springs. When in Colorado Springs, he attends St. Mary Cathedral).

About The Goat Cheese Lady

I am Lindsey. At first I was a city girl. Growing up, the closest thing I had to farm animals were a cat and a cockatiel. In 2009, Herbert (my husband) and I bought our first milk goat and I instantly became an urban farmgirl, attempting to balance city and farm life..before I knew “urban homesteading” was a thing. That’s when we began The Goat Cheese Lady Farm, hence The Goat Cheese Lady blog you’re visiting now. After moving to the country in 2014, I embarked on life as a rural farmgirl. We continued teaching farm and cheesemaking classes, raising more goats and began construction on our cheese creamery. But life had other plans and in 2017, we decided that, due to financial and health issues, we had to close the farm for business. No more classes, no more creamery, a lot less milking. We went back to off farm jobs, I as an Occupational Therapist, Herbert in construction with his business, D&A Home Remodeling. At that point, I made a silent promise to myself that I would corral my entrepreneurial mind and focus on a job for a year. Well, it has been a year and I am back. Not to classes, cheese, soap or lotion, but back to writing. I love it. I’m not sure where it will lead me, but that’s where I’m starting. I’ll continue to write as The Goat Cheese Lady for now, and whatever the future holds, I’ll let you know. Our two boys are 14 and 11 and continue to be louder than my sister and I ever were. We have two dogs, Montaña and Flash, a cat, Jumpy, a flock of chickens and three goats. Yes, we still have Lucy, the goat who helped us start it all and was milked by over 1,000 people. She’s retired but still the boss. Chocolate provides enough milk for our family with some to spare for the dogs. Soccer friends, school friends, coyotes and mice are frequent visitors. There are way too many flies and every so often we see an owl. I’m glad you’re here. Sometimes you’ll laugh out loud, other times you’ll be inspired to appreciate the small things. My hope is that, over your morning cup of coffee or your afternoon work break, you’ll enjoy the antics and inspiration that are my daily life. Lindsey
This entry was posted in Articles, Farm Life, good people to know, Opinion and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Feeding Our Families and Our Farmers

  1. LisaInTX says:

    Bless your heart! It is a no win situation and I think “they” want it that way for ALL farm and ranches. Control the land, food and water, control the population. Sounds pretty prophetic huh?
    Best wishes on your struggle to over come these twisted and crazy times we live in.

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