Robert Singleton, who owns Rancho with partner Jesse "Babe" Amaral, on Monday night said the company undertook the recall out of "an abundance of caution" and regrets any inconvenience to customers.
Singleton confirmed the company had voluntarily ceased processing and was compiling a list of affected companies. He declined further comment.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the expanded recall on Saturday, saying Rancho "processed diseased and unsound animals" without a full inspection. The meat products are "unsound, unwholesome or otherwise are unfit for human food" and must be removed from commerce, according to the department's Food Safety and Inspection Service.
The recall affects all beef processed at Rancho between Jan. 1, 2013 and Jan. 7, 2014, a USDA spokesman said. The carcasses and other parts, commonly referred to as offal, were shipped to retailers and distributors in California, Florida, Illinois and Texas.
Some North Bay ranchers and meat purveyors questioned the logic behind the far-reaching recall, given that most of the beef was long ago consumed and there are no reports of anyone becoming ill after eating the beef.
"There should have been no recall," said Tara Smith, owner of Tara Firma Farms in Petaluma.
Smith was among the producers directly affected from the original Jan. 13 recall by Rancho. She estimated she lost about $8,000 worth of organically raised beef that she claimed was raised and processed according to proper health and safety procedures.
The extensive publicity was unfair not only to Rancho but also to the many producers who now have to inform their customers of the recall, Smith said.
Rancho has long been the only federally-inspected animal processing facility in Sonoma, Napa, Marin, Lake and Mendocino counties, with the exception of a small plant for sheep and goats near Occidental.
The plant serves a growing, high-end beef market, including grass-fed and organic cattle. Those ranchers use Rancho to kill their animals, who then take the carcasses for butchering and sale via markets, restaurants and farmers markets. As well, Rancho buys and slaughters older dairy cattle.
Over the years, Rancho Veal has been targeted by animal rights activists. Police in 2000 said arsonists set fires at the plant and at two poultry operations also in Sonoma County. That same year, animal rights activists demonstrated outside Rancho Veal.
In recent months the company began processing hogs one day a week. The plant reportedly slaughters cattle four days a week.
North Bay ranchers and farm officials voiced fears Monday that the weekend recall could force Rancho to permanently shut down.
"Without it, our producers would be really hard-pressed to stay in business," said Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner Tony Linegar.
On Monday afternoon, numerous cars and trucks were parked outside Rancho's office off Petaluma Boulevard North. Several people could be seen on the premises.
A few black-and-white cattle stood in a lot toward the front of the rambling, hilltop property, and a government vehicle was parked outside a grey USDA office. Two employees, who did not give their names, said an attorney had advised everyone at the company, including the owners, not to comment.
The issue came to light Jan. 10 when federal agents, accompanied by Petaluma police, searched Rancho's plant as part of an ongoing investigation. Three days later, the USDA announced Rancho was recalling 41,683 pounds of meat that was produced on Jan. 8 and didn't receive a full federal inspection.
Read more of the PD's fire and rebuild coverage here