Mike Callicrate is an independent cattle producer, feedyard owner, business entrepreneur and political activist. He serves as an outspoken leader in addressing the rural, social and cultural impacts of current economic trends.
A native of Evergreen, Colorado, he earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Colorado State University in 1975 and later moved to St. Francis, Kansas, where he started farming and ranching. He and a small group of investors built a cattle feeding operation there in 1978. In 1986, he left that operation and built his own independent 12,000-head feedyard nearby.
Frustrated by the castration equipment he was using in his feedyard, he invented the Callicrate Smart Bander in 1991. The product is still manufactured in St. Francis and contributes more than 30 jobs to the local community.
In 2000, he formed a value-added meat company called Ranch Foods Direct. The fabrication plant and retail store processes and markets high quality all-natural beef in Colorado Springs and over the Internet at www.ranchfoodsdir.wpengine.com.
Since the mid-1990s, Mike has been actively involved in 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, now part of 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.
Mike has been an advisor for the films Food Inc. and FRESH, and is cited in several books including The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Fast Food Nation. He is revered as the “go-to expert” for understanding negative consequences of trends in the modern meat industry.
He is the father of two sons, Tyler and Teegan.