PETALUMA (KPIX 5) — Federal officials have dealt a financial blow to some of the Bay Area’s top grass-fed beef ranchers caught up in massive recall involving a Petaluma slaughterhouse, ordering a complete ban on the sale of their meat.

The word came down from federal officials in Washington, DC late Wednesday afternoon.

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Rancher Bill Niman received a letter Wednesday from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He has been ordered not to sell at least $300,000 worth of high end, grass-fed beef.

That meat has been on hold for months, since the Rancho Feeding Corporation shut down its Petaluma processing plant. The plant is now under criminal investigation because of charges it processed diseased animals.

Niman and a number of other organic beef ranchers processed their meat at the same slaughterhouse. He said he has the paperwork to prove his meat is safe.

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But the USDA’s letter to Niman said it cannot ensure his product wasn’t contaminated.

“I don’t know if we can survive this hit,” Niman told KPIX 5 during an interview in February.

Some of the bay area’s top organic beef farmers are caught up in the recall of millions of pounds of meat processed by the Petaluma plant.

The USDA’s letter to Niman said it does not have the authority to offer compensation for his loss. Niman and his wife said this is discouraging news and that they may sue the USDA.

They also said Rancho Feeding Corporation cannot afford to reimburse them.

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Marin Sun Farms, a popular producer of grass-fed beef products, is purchasing the now-shuttered Petaluma slaughterhouse.