Mike Callicrate is a farmer-rancher, business entrepreneur and family farm advocate. Considered a “go-to expert” on the negative consequences of industrial meat production, he served as an advisor for the films Food Inc. and FRESH and for several best-selling books including Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore’s Dilemma.
A native of Evergreen, Colorado, he was a bull rider and rope maker before earning a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Colorado State University in 1975. He then moved to St. Francis, Kansas, where he started farming and ranching. In 2000, Mike formed Ranch Foods Direct, a branded beef company, to market his own cattle. The fabrication plant and retail store based in Colorado Springs processes and markets high quality meats along with many other local, artisan food products on site and online at www.RanchFoodsDirect.com. Since that time, he has been transitioning his farm to a multi-species regenerative agricultural model using natural methods to improve the health of the land, livestock and people. He also added an on-farm slaughter facility to reduce stress on the animals and improve meat quality.
Since 1991, he has also been producing and selling the Callicrate Bander, his patented invention now recognized worldwide as the preferred method for humane, drug-free livestock castration. The device is manufactured in St. Francis and contributes more than 30 jobs to the local community.
Along the way, Mike has been actively involved in many social and political efforts to improve the welfare of family farms and to restore effective publicly-regulated markets. He was a founding member of several farm advocacy groups including the Organization for Competitive Markets, R-CALF and the Kansas Cattlemen’s Association. He also was a lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against the world’s largest meatpacker, IBP (later bought by Tyson Foods) alleging unfair and discriminatory marketing practices.
In recognition of his efforts, he has received the “Westerner of the Year” award from Western Ranchers Beef Cooperative; the first ever Legacy Award from the Kansas Cattlemen’s Association; and the Carl L. King Distinguished Service Award from the American Corn Growers Association.