Rancho Recall leaves rancher Bill Niman with 100,000 pounds of inspected beef to be thrown away
The 9-million-pound beef recall at Rancho Feeding led to the eventual sale of the company, and an investigation that included potential illegal activities by plant employees and an illicit romance between a plant foreman and a federal inspector (see the CNN report at http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2014/05/02/bad-meat-investigation/ for more details). It also led to recalls by local producers who used the plant, and one of them, industry veteran Bill Niman, may be forced to destroy $400,000 worth of meat.
In a separate CNN report, Niman says that he was using Rancho Feeding to process his BN Ranch cattle and that he or an employee were present during the inspection and slaughter, making it impossible that any of the beef from his company was contaminated with the Rancho beef, some of which was found to have come from cancerous cattle and was considered unfit for human consumption. Niman’s claims are backed up by former Rancho Feeding co-owner Jesse Amaral, who issued a statement to CNN through his lawyer that Niman’s beef was not “tainted, diseased or uninspected.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture disagreed, saying it couldn’t guarantee that Niman’s beef wasn’t swapped with or contaminated by the cancerous meat. Niman calls the USDA’s logic “preposterous,” arguing that the difference between his cattle and the cows Rancho was buying is obvious - “the difference between a motorcycle and an automobile.”
Still, 100,000 pounds of beef is locked up in freezers, costing Niman about $400,000. To put that in perspective, BN Ranch’s revenue last year was less than $2 million.
"It's been devastating for our business. It's been a huge distraction. It's going to be a huge financial hit. We're going to have to borrow money or sell part of our company in order to stay alive,” he said.