The “Meatless Monday” campaign that urges Americans to cut their beef consumption by 15 percent suggests grilled avocado with salsa as the meat substitute of the week.


avocado-slices-featured.jpgPays Café in Billings, MT, where the leadership of the Ranchers Cattlemen Acton Legal Fund (R-CALF), is said to hang out, probably is not going to rustle up grilled avocado any time soon.


Yet, R-CALF is now being accused of cavorting with “well funded activists” from an “extremist organization” that is hostile to American agriculture.


Steve Foglesong, president of the Denver-based National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said he questions the affiliation of R-CALF with Washington D.C.-based Food and Water Watch, which he called an “animal rights and environmental activist group.”


R-CALF was one of several groups favoring more government intervention in the cattle market that Food and Water Watch coordinated with before and during the recent joint DOJ/USDA workshop on antitrust issues in the meat industry, held in Fort Collins, CO.


Foglesong said Food and Water Watch sponsored “The Meatrix,” a video negatively depicting the livestock industry that is used by the “Meatless Monday” campaign.  He said Food and Water Watch “spreads fiction as fact to the 98 percent of the population removed from production agriculture.”


“We are concerned about the dominant role being played in food production by large players who drive small players out–the stats on concentration bear that out,” says Anna Ghosh, spokesman for the 11,000-member environmental organization.


Bill Bullard, R-CALF’s chief executive, called NCBA’s attack “tiresome” and “absurd.” 


He said R-CALF began working with “consumer” groups to get Country of Origin labeling and to keep Canadian cattle out of the U.S. to prevent Mad Cow disease from coming across the border. 


Bullard says working in coalitions is necessary to “prevent the multinational meatpackers and their closely aligned trade associations, including NCBA, from capturing control of the live cattle supply chain…”


“The fact R-CALF is partnering with an extremist organization, to support GIPSA’s proposed rule, that wants to regulate us out of business is frightening and makes me wonder what the desired outcome really is,” says Foglesong.  “Why would Food and Water Watch want to interfere with how I market my cattle?  Their goal far surpasses marketing.”


The NCBA leader says Food and Water Watch works to “obstruct the success of U.S. agriculture and its efforts to feed a growing world population.”


Ghosh declined to respond directly to NCBA’s charges.  


She said in addition to R-CALF, her group coordinated its workshop activities with Western Organization of Resource Councils, National Family Farm Coalition, Missouri Rural Crisis Center, Land Stewardship Project, and Colorado Farmers Union.