Friday, February 20, 2009

Makes me so sick....!

I'm a red-blooded American. But more and more I feel like I'm living in the Socialist States of Amerika. Here's just one reason.

Our government, for several years now, has been toying with the idea of a national registry of every livestock animal in the country. They say it's for disease control and tracking. Right. And I was born on Pluto. It's really not as cold as you think.

Here's the deal. The USDA has come up with a plan whereby every farm or homestead would be given an identification number. Then, every animal on the farm would be given a tag or chip to identify that particular animal. Every time an animal was born, died, was sent to the butcher, got out of their pen and wandered down the road, was sold off, or moved from one place to another for any reason, a form has to be filled out and sent to the USDA. There, the form is processed so Big Brother knows exactly what you're doing. Problem. Not only do you have to waste time filling out the paperwork, you also pay a fee for processing. EVERY TIME.

Now, if this was truly about disease control, that'd be one thing. I still would be against it, but it'd at least make a little more sense. What's really behind this is government helping big agribusiness. Ever hear of Tyson? That's one. See, big CAFO (that's feedlot to you and me - where 99.9% of the meat at the grocery comes from) companies have a bunch of animals all born on the same day, kept in the same lot, moved together until butchering day. Those companies would get ONE tag for the whole lot of 500 animals (for example), pay one processing fee for all of them and fill out one form. THAT's what this is about. There are just a handful of agribusinesses that provide the lion's share of meat to the nation - like five or six, maybe less now. They stand to gain a lot from this. How?

Well, besides the fact that they will move many animals under one tag for one fee and that alone will be a cost savings, the plan will drive many small farmers (the relatively few left in our country) and many homesteaders out of business. For the person with a small backyard flock of chickens, a couple of milk goats or a cow, some summer feeder pigs, this plan would be too time consuming, and way too costly. Once you pay for the tags, then pay the fees for processing all the paperwork, it'd be just too expensive. So then what's a consumer left with but to be forced to buy the CAFO produced food. Even if they buy it now, the point is, they eventually won't have the choice later on. Further, some other countries, Japan for instance, quit buying American beef because they didn't want meat raised in CAFO situations like we have here with the high chance of disease. So the big businesses want a regulated Government stamp on their meat saying it's A-OK, in order to help other countries feel at ease about buying our beef. More money for them.

Disease control and tracking my foot! Get off my farm! Oh sure there'd be all sorts of people who would just initially refuse to register. But veterenarians and feed stores would be required to report non-compliant farms. Already, some feed stores take your name, address, and phone number every time you buy a bag of chicken feed. What do you think they do with it? Some are already sending the information to their state NAIS offices and registering farms, without the owner realizing it. Kinda underhand if you ask me.

Now, at this point, the Federal Government is trying to lay the responsibility on each state to get this set up and going... too costly for them to do it. But that's like trying to herd cats. Further, the program isn't a law - yet. I understand that our esteemed President was pro-NAIS when he was governor of Illinois. I get that info from a homesteader over there. A lot of states currently have an 'opt out' program for the farm id. But as I understand, you have to ask for it, and check annually that you weren't registered without your knowing it.

There are a lot of organizations that are working to oppose this program. A lot of supply companies, like hatcheries, oppose it as well. They get a huge percentage of their business from the people that this plan would directly and negatively effect.

I tell you, I get antsy, frustrated, and discouraged sometimes. I feel less and less like I live in the Land of the Free. Now, this post is by no means intended to be THE source of information about the NAIS and I don't guarantee the 100% accuracy of everything I've said. Only 99%. Go read for yourself. Sure, go look at the USDA site. But be warned, that's like the fox telling the farmer he's carrying the bag to put wild greens in, as he's on his way to the chicken house.


Knitting Nurd said...

Wow, that's amazing! Big Brother seems to have to have their hands in every pie, don't they?

Keetha said...

I didn't stop following ANY of my blogs - - - don't know what happened, you're still on MY list, even though NONE of your new posts show up. I'm going to readd you once again and see if THAT fixes the problems!!!

Heathen Mama said...

Another way that NAIS gets their info is thru breed organizations. If you have any sort of registered purebred livestock then chances are good that the registering organization has given up your info. I used to raise LaMancha dairy goats but I couldn't sell them as purebred even though they were because I refused to register them with ADGA. ADGA is very pro-NAIS.

I think one partial solution is underground economy. Only sell or purchase livestock from farmers who are anti-NAIS. Buy your feed from stores that don't take down your info, and pay cash.

Sherri (SerenityGulch from Ravelry)

Anonymous said...

AMEN to every thing you said...that is just how we feel out here in rural north Idaho. It's a joke for the small hobby farmer.