what is NAIS and why don't we like it?
Click Here to read current updates at the bottom of this page.
The following article has been excerpted from the EggCartons.com web site, because they explained it best and I'm not into rewriting stuff that says it better than I can. First off: As of February, 2009 this is NOW about a 6.5 (out of 10) on a scale of importance to you and me (up from 4.5 last year when this was all looking like it was falling apart.) There STILL isn't enough money or manpower to implement this kind of massive, Big Brother tracking system throughout the country. But that doesn't mean the USDA isn't going to try it anyway. Whast's another BIILLION dollars when the entire country is being bought up by our alleged representatives?
A government that is not restrained can find the time and money to do just about anything, including ruin our entire economy if we the people allow them.
If you are interested in learning more, follow the links to www.NoNais.org for more complete and up to date information.
As of this writing, January 17, 2009, the program seems to be on hold. This doesn't mean it won't be picked up at a later date. Our farm does have a Premis ID, because we believe it's a good idea to keep in the loop should regional or statewide health threats to livestock present themselves. But in my opinion, it would be counterproductive, not to mention cost prohibitive to "chip" our chickens (and every other animal we raise.) I'm just sayin'.
Big Brother wants to live at YOUR farm!
The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) is a national program to identify and track livestock animals, including poultry, horses, cattle, goats and sheep for the purpose of disease containment. NAIS plans to use RFID and GPS technology to track animals, and requires every farm or "premises" be registered with government agencies, even if that premises houses a single animal. While NAIS's purported goal of disease containment appears to be beneficial, the requirement for American citizens to register privately-owned property for tracking and monitoring purposes has very serious implications for our privacy, rights and freedoms.
For all of us who are small farmer/livestock owners, even if it is just 2 chickens and a goat, our governments is implementing NAIS (National Animal Identification System) to register our farms and all of our livestock. The "Goal" is to help track the origin of disease outbreaks in livestock for National Security.
We must fight this program is it is total invasion of privacy, more government intrusion and the expense of such an ID program (i.e. radio frequency ID chips) will be a burden the livestock owner will have to bear. It would make selling live or processed meat (poultry, beef, pork, etc.) too expensive for the average consumer.
Please don't sit on your hands and think other will fight this fight. Contact your State Representatives and your Senators. Visit NO NAIS to become more informed. Do it now as the whole country will be subject to the NAIS program in 2008. [Note: the NAIS program was not implemented by the end of 2008, but it could be picked back up at any time. It's still important to know how this would work, should they decide to go through with it.]
On a very large scale, NAIS sounds reasonable. But as explained by Dr. Bob Hillman, a member of the Secretary's Advisory Subcommittee on the National Animal Identification System, Texas state veterinarian, and head of the TAHC, Texas livestock and poultry health regulatory agency, "This involves the unique identification of each head of livestock moved from its original herd. For cattle, sheep, goats, cervidae (deer) and some other species of livestock, the identification device will be an electronic ear tag, also called a radio frequency (RFID) identification device. For other species, such as swine and poultry, the number can be applied to groups of animals, if they spend their entire production life together as a group or unit." Quote found on the NAIS website: http://animalid.aphis.usda.gov/nais/spotlights/Texas_spotlight_1204.pdf
Forms of identification mentioned on the NAIS website include micro-chips, retinal scans and DNA. Presumably, poultry and swine that are not a "group or unit" will require individual identification. The article further paraphrases Dr. Hillman thus, "When animals are sold, moved or harvested [or die], project participants will report the event to third-party data service providers by computer, fax or mail." I understand that this "report" will need to be made within 24 hours of a qualifying "event."
Although the plan seems feasible, and even helpful, in large-scale agri-business settings, please take the time to consider what this means to the average backyard or hobby farmer, who raises a few animals for their own food or pleasure. I am one of this group, and can tell you that making this tracking a requirement for small farmers will mean the end of hobby farms. I'll describe a couple of scenarios to help illustrate why.
I go to the feed store to buy some chicks to raise for meat. They used to be 89 cents. Now, since the feed store is required to register each chick separately, because theyÕre not sold "as a unit," how much do you think theyÕll charge for a registered chick? In states where NAIS is already in place, many feed stores are no longer carrying animals. In fact, the feed store I visited today is a two-generation enterprise. The current owner/manger, who is the son of the founder, said he would quit selling feed if he had to start registering and reporting chicks and other livestock they sell, such as rabbits. How long do you think small farms will last without feed stores? Please know that large farms do not typically patronize feed stores to any extent. They buy in bulk direct from suppliers.
I have chickens that run loose on my property. Let's say a hen comes up missing. I'm supposed to report that in 24 hours. A week later, I see her scratching around again. So I'm supposed to report that, too. I see her every few days for a couple more weeks. Each time I see her or fail to see her, I'm supposed to report it, or I'm breaking the rules (which we all suspect will become law). After three weeks or so, she marches in with several chicks. Now I'm supposed to catch all of them and haul them down to a "tagging station" to be identified, since they donÕt live their entire lives "as a unit." Being a law-abiding citizen, I do so. Three days later, a chick is missing, probably taken by a hawk or crow or cat. I report it. A few days later, another comes up missing. Report. A week later, my horse steps on a chick. Report. Then another hen disappears, probably to brood another clutch of chicks. Report. You see where IÕm going with this, of course. Who is really going to pay attention to all of my reports? Who is going to pay a staffer to do so? Am I going to have to pay a staffer for several hours' time to take care of all my reports? How much will my chickens cost at that point? Will I be eating the most expensive chickens and eggs the world has ever known, or will I give up and shop at Safeway?
Does anyone honestly think that people who raise animals for their own food are going to acquiesce to this degree of oversight? Does anyone honestly think a person is going to haul a $15.00 rabbit and her new litter down to the local tagging station and pay heaven knows how much to have their rabbits identified? And at what age should they do that so that they don't stress the doe out, causing her to cannibalize her babies? (This can happen when the babies are as old as four weeks of age. Butchering or live sale is typically done at 8 weeks.)
So, as a result of NAIS implementation, all the small farmers and hobby farmers will disappear. So what, you ask? Apart from the fact that NAIS has seriously disrupted the "pursuit of happiness" for millions of hobby farmers, and destroyed all the businesses, publications, activities, etc., that depend on hobby farmers, let's discuss genetic diversity. There are many, very specific adaptations in livestock, which were selected for over generations. Breeds were selected that are specially adapted to perform well despite certain adverse circumstances such as excessive heat or cold or wetness or parasite loads. Or they are adapted to graze very hilly, rocky land; or they are foot-rot resistant to thrive in damp, low-lying pastures; or they have terrific mothering skills, or excellent laying rates despite cold, darkness, etc.
If small farmers and hobby farmers disappear, the genetic diversity in livestock and its potential to offer solutions to problems we cannot yet foresee will disappear as well. Why is that, you ask? Because small farmers and hobby farmers raise these specially adapted, endangered "heritage breeds." They are therefore the guardians of the genetic diversity. Large farms and ranches, to which NAIS poses no special burden, use only a very tiny percentage of the livestock breeds available. They use only breeds that are specially adapted to perform well in high-input, high-output confinement systems. Heritage breeds do not perform well in these systems, being adapted to produce in more natural settings. With people becoming more particular about how their food is raised, is it a good idea to allow the loss of these heritage breeds?
As a final note, I must address the remarkably un-American nature of a law making it impossible for people to raise their own food. What's next, shall we outlaw home vegetable gardens so that their pollen doesn't contaminate the local GMO crop? Let's give the agribusiness lobby a little time; I'm sure theyÕll come up with something "feasible."
While weÕre waiting, we can take our children for the last time to the petting zoo, the livestock exhibits at the fair, and the community 4-H and FFA meetings. "Last" because the animals for all of these are provided primarily by small farmers.
This whole tracking idea, as it applies to small farmers and hobby farmers, is so unrealistic, impractical and Orwellian that it seems like a bad dream. Please, please get out there and put a stop to this before any more harm is done.
Thank you for your attention to this serious matter.
[Special thanks to www.EggCartons.com for the text of this article.]
D o w n s i z e r - D i s p a t c h
Quote of the Day: "The USDA claims it needs to be able
to move fast in case of an outbreak of disease. At first blush it sure
sounds fine and good, until you consider that people are in the middle
of a major epidemic on US dairy farms, and the USDA hasn't moved at all
to stop it." - The National Association of Farm Animal Welfare
Subject: From "Voluntary" to Mandatory
Johne's disease is a contagious infection of the small intestine of hoofed animals.
There's a strong possibility that Johne's disease in
cattle causes Crohn's disease in humans.
According to a 2007 government study, 68% of America's
cattle herds may be infected.
Yet the USDA's page on Johne's disease still cites
a 22% figure from 1996
Moreover, the USDA's 2009 budget . . . [http://www.obpa.usda.gov/budsum/fy09budsum.pdf] slashes the already miniscule funding for Johne's disease eradication while increasing funding for the National Animal Identification System (NAIS)
The rationale for NAIS is that it will better protect America's food supply. But at what cost?
More government surveillance powers
NAIS is supposed to control disease outbreaks, but it does so at the expense of disease eradication programs.
No wonder the people aren't buying it. NAIS was introduced four years ago as a "voluntary" program, but the lack of "volunteers" has the USDA playing hardball. It's proposing rule APHIS-2007-0096 that would . . .
Require participants in other USDA disease control
programs to adopt a NAIS Premise ID number
Our assumption that this "voluntary" program would be made mandatory was a big reason DownsizeDC.org launched its anti-NAIS campaign three years ago. http://www.downsizedc.org/etp/campaigns/46
Please join us in fighting this bureaucratic over-reach. Tell Congress to abolish NAIS. Remind them that Congress never approved NAIS in the first place, but Congress does have the power to de-fund the program. You can also note that NAIS funding is being increased while Johne's Disease eradication programs are being cut. This undermines the rationale for NAIS. Make your representatives aware that NAIS is one step closer to being mandatory.
You can send your message using our Educate
the Powerful System. http://www.downsizedc.org/etp/campaigns/46
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