A North Bay rancher has disposed of 30 tons of grass-fed meat that he was blocked from selling because of a federal recall of possibly tainted beef from a Petaluma slaughterhouse.
Bill Niman’s BN Ranch was left with about 100,000 pounds of unsellable meat after the recall earlier this year, despite producing documents showing that its products had received proper inspections at Petaluma’s Rancho Feeding Corp.
A federal grand jury indictment unsealed Monday accuses Rancho Feeding’s owners and workers of circumventing U.S. Department of Agriculture inspections and slaughtering and selling cattle that had been condemned or had shown signs of eye cancer.
Niman had stored his impounded meat, worth an estimated $400,000, hoping that ongoing federal investigations would turn up information favorable to his case and eventually allow him to sell it.
He was allowed to distribute some of the meat to family and friends. But he says he sent about 60,000 pounds to a rendering plant for disposal earlier this month.
“We couldn’t continue to pay the thousands of dollars per month for storage, so we had to let it go, sadly,” Niman says.
And there’s more bad news for Niman and other beef producers caught up in the 9 million-pound Rancho recall. The USDA says ranchers who lost products because of the recall won’t get federal financial help because there’s no formal program to provide such assistance.
“I’m a little surprised,” Niman says. “There has been some historical precedent for USDA helping people out when they have been basically innocent victims of USDA actions.”