By Joyce Morrison
March 18, 2007
Henry is a good man - the kids all love him. He picks out kids that often go unnoticed and gives them special attention. They are not the prettiest or most popular children, but he always gives them a pat on the back and words of encouragement.
Many of these young people would like to participate with livestock projects in 4-H and FFA, but they don’t have livestock. Henry takes a lot of pride in his herd of cross-bred cattle, and he also takes a lot of pride in seeing kids grow up to be good citizens. He gives these “special kids” the opportunity to use one of his herd animals as their project and if they work hard, they can show the animal in competition at the county fair. Without Henry, the lessons learned about responsibility and pride in achievement would never happen.
Henry will probably no longer be able to help these young people. The National Animal Identification System, a United States Department of Agriculture program, will require a special electronic radio frequency tag for animal identification for each animal on a farm – now called a “premise.” Henry will be required to register his premise with the government and he will be given a number. Every time an animal leaves the farm, and returns, it must be reported to the government within 24 hours or Henry will face a severe penalty. Henry does not even own a computer to file this report, and he says he cannot abide by this loss of freedom. He will have to sell his herd.
One reason Henry refuses to comply with chipping his cows with a radio frequency tag can be found in the USDA draft completed in 2005. This draft concentrates on various kinds of mapping to locate his farm. Most farmers’ homes are located on the farm which has been given the premise identification number. Some of these maps can almost zoom in close enough to read the headlines on the morning paper.
The GPS National Map view page says, “This provides an additional check on the validity of the data supplied by the owner.” What is the government saying – or implying?
This brings up the question of the legal nature of the contract for a U.S. Premises Identification Number. Will it improve the health of his animals? Who gives the U.S. Department of Agriculture enforcement authority in Henry’s state? Would this U.S. Premises Identification Number “cloud” the title to Henry’s property? Is his herd “his” private property?
Outside of this tracking being unnecessarily invasive to the privacy of individuals, it leaves many unanswered questions.
The November 2006, NAIS publication entitled, “A User Guide,” is a 50 page draft of the most current plan. What changes will be made in the final draft and in future publications?
Every state has a Cooperative Agreement with the USDA. The USDA indicates the program is “voluntary.” But, that is today. Will it still be voluntary tomorrow? Will your state mandate this “voluntary” program? What will be the guidelines adopted by your state? Activists in some states are slowing NAIS down, but in other states, it is advancing rapidly.
Colorado appears to have moved quickly to implement this invasion of privacy. An article about Morgan County Colorado 4-H livestock programs from the USDA newsroom tells us:
“With premises registration and individual animal identification covered, what about animal tracking? Once again, no problem. Every market animal entered will be scanned prior to leaving the fairgrounds and a destination recorded. At that point, Morgan County will have available records if needed for animal disease investigators. As instructions develop from state animal health officials for reporting animal movement activity, Morgan County will be more than ready and able to assist.”
Anyone who has ever shown cattle knows there are pages of documentation dealing with an individual animal. An RFID tag reporting every twitch of the tail to the USDA is unnecessary and “none of their business.” The “animal disease” propaganda is just that. This propaganda is intended to scare everyone into compliance and to take away the livestock owner’s rights.
Large factory farms and feedlots would be far more susceptible to a disease problem than the small producer. However, most of these operations employ people to keep accurate records on “cost of production,” so reporting would not be a hardship because they are equipped. The small producer does not have the time or the finances to hire this type of management.
Large producers have bought into “the chip” believing that they can sell their product in foreign markets for a higher price if the animal is traceable. It would be a rare happening if the small producer’s products were ever sold to foreign markets.
These large production units definitely play a huge role in feeding millions of people at the lowest cost possible. Given choices, would you rather eat beef from a source where thousands of animals are raised, or would you prefer your meat coming from a small herd that has been carefully fed and the animals have never been stressed? If NAIS is mandated, the only meat available may be from factory farms, large feedlots or imported. The small producer will quit leaving you no choice. Is this the intention of NAIS?
There are those who are dedicated to preserving the old bloodlines of chickens and other animals. Many of these breeds are those your great-grandparents raised and could not compete with the new breeds in the production industry. Those raising heritage breeds are very concerned they won’t be able to continue this endeavor and these old breeds will die out.
Our neighbors have sheep with hair instead of wool, miniature horses, and exotic chickens and we love to see any of the new animals they acquire. They both work in the city and realize this is not a venture to make money. They raise these animals because they love to do it. Doesn’t it sound ridiculous to have to chip little critters that are for enjoyment and not food?
Why would the government want an accounting of every single head of livestock on your little farm? If you have a single chicken, goat, sheep, cow, horse, rabbit, or other listed animal, the government will know it. If one of those animals has a baby(s), it must be reported within 24 hours of birth. If you butcher an animal to eat, it will have to be reported. If one dies of natural causes, it will have to be reported.
When the “spy in the sky” beams down and determines you have an animal missing, will you be able to account for it or will you have to pay the huge fine that will be imposed?
Horses are required to have a “chip.” Every time a horse is loaded on a trailer to go for a trail ride, it will have to be reported to the government. If NAIS is about disease, do we eat horsemeat in America? Horse owners tell me the three foreign owned slaughter houses in the United States that kill horses for human consumption do not have regulations about wormers or other medications being withdrawn prior to slaughter. They can kill old and sick horses. It should make you wonder what the purpose of this chipping stuff really is.
Farm Bureau, Cattleman’s Association and other groups are promoting NAIS. Why would these organizations want to impose this burden on the very people they are supposed to represent? Do you have any idea the amount of documentation and data that will be required for this program? Someone has to handle the data reporting and it just might be interesting to follow the money trail. Could it be these organizations will benefit financially?
Some documentation calls the identification a “tag,” but in other references, it is referred to as an RFID chip, which is monitored by radio frequency. The “chipping” business will really boom at a cost to the producer. BusinessWeek.com’s writer, David Gumpert, has an interesting article called “Animal Tags for People.”
Gumpert said, “While the NAIS remains voluntary on a federal level, and there is no formal people identification system as yet, both executives are moving aggressively to position their companies for the day when chips in animals and people are the norm rather than the exception.”
Bible scholars - you need to be watching this one. It appears it could be about more than “cow chips.”
Websites of interest:
Joyce Morrison attempts to educate the public regarding the dangers coming to their local communities through Sustainable Development and Agenda 21 programs which are designed to gradually take control of all private property through undue regulations.
Morrison writes for Eco-logic Powerhouse, NewsWithViews.com, Range Magazine, SOWER magazine as well as numerous other publications. She is a weekly participant on the teleconference of the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative think tank and is a pro-life, pro-family activist.
She is a chapter leader for Concerned Women for America as well as Secretary to the Board of Directors of Rural Restoration/ADOPT Mission, a national farm ministry located in Sikeston, MO. FarmersRuralRestoration.com. Her most enjoyable time is spent teaching a senior adult Sunday School class which is a focus on hope and encouragement.