Statement By Jane Williams of Bluffton, Arkansas
On Behalf of the Arkansas Animal Producer’s Association
Submitted at the request of Senator Lincoln to the
United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
The Arkansas Animal Producer’s Association (ARAPA) was created as a direct result of the development of the proposed USDA guidelines for Farm Premises Identification (FPI) and the National Animal Identification Tracking System (NAIS). Members believe that some organizations that were suppose to be representing their interests are not doing so on the FPI, NAIS, and COOL issues. ARAPA membership consists of independent animal owners who rear animals as a hobby, for their nutritional needs, and/or for income. At some point members transport animals off of their land to sell, barter, butcher, exhibit, secure veterinary services, go on trail rides, compete, or simply to give an animal away.
Senator Lincoln’s request for this statement, on behalf of independent animal producers, is appreciated. It is time that our concerns are heard and listened to by our public servants.
The proposed USDA guidelines, as published in the “DRAFT Strategic Plan 2005 to 2009” and the “Draft Program Standards” published April 25, 2005, would prohibit an animal owner from taking an animal off of the owner's land unless that owner filed an application with the USDA for a FPI and then attached or injected an identification device in or on the animal on the farm or at a tagging facility. The USDA tries to tell us that FPI is voluntary. It may be voluntary today, but the USDA does not inform animal owners that they intend to make it mandatory. FPI is coercive—not voluntary. If you do not have a FPI, you will not be allowed to place identification on your animals. You would thus be prohibited from taking an animal off of your premises. On page 10, the last sentence of paragraph one in the “NAIS DRAFT Strategic Plan 2005 to 2009” it is stated, “Premises registration and animal identification according to NAIS standards will be required by January 2008.”
A mandatory program, as proposed by the USDA, would place such extreme hardships on animal owners that many of them would cease to rear animals. Presently 85% of Arkansas sale barn customers are small producers who most likely would be forced out of business by the proposed USDA program. The economic losses to Arkansas resulting from a large number of animal owners going out of business would be devastating to the Arkansas economy since the loss of customers by sale barns, feed stores, mom and pop stores, butcher shops, farm equipment suppliers, etc. would necessitate their closing.
Why Would FPI and NAIS Cause Independent Animal Producers To Cease Rearing Animals?
- refusal to accept USDA jurisdiction over their farm by applying for a FPI
- religious beliefs that prohibit animal identification as proposed by the USDA
- costs associated with NAIS
- personal aversion to attachment or injection of devices on or into animals
- inability or refusal to comply with the complexity of the reporting program
Executive Order 10998 gives the Secretary of Agriculture, when ordered by the President, the authority to confiscate all farm equipment, fertilizer, animal feed, and animals in the event of a declaration of a National Emergency. Every year the President declares a National Emergency. A USDA employee could enter a farm without additional permission, beyond the FPI, from an animal owner and do anything they wanted to do on a farm to or with the listed property. The 1942 Supreme Court decision rendered in Wickard v. Filburn states that the federal government has the right to regulate that which it subsidizes. The USDA is subsidizing the FPI program, thus they could regulate the activities on a farm with a FPI or that had received federal funds.
The USDA states that their authority to implement FPI and NAIS is derived from the Animal Health Protection Act (AHPA) which was a part of the 2002 Farm Bill. Although the AHPA does not give the Secretary of Agriculture express consent to establish NAIS, it does give the Secretary of Agriculture unprecedented power to make warrantless searches, arrest individuals, and issue fines for up to $500,000 for being “about to” violate a mandate of the Secretary of Agriculture. AHPA tramples many principles enshrined in the Constitution. Placing such power in the hands of an appointed individual is unprecedented in United States history. These are some of the reasons many animal owners will not place their farms under USDA jurisdiction by requesting a FPI.
Practitioners of religious faiths, such as the Amish, that prohibit animal identification as proposed by the USDA could not comply with USDA guidelines without violating their beliefs. Their faith does not allow them to use automobiles, so they travel in buggies and on horseback. Without complying with FPI and NAIS, they would be imprisoned on their farms unless they walked to and from town and to and from adjoining farms. Some members of these faiths are considering selling their farms and immigrating to another country that would guarantee them the right to freely practice their beliefs. Many Christians see FPI and NAIS as being parallel with Revelations that speaks of all being required to accept a “mark”, which is a sign of ownership, in order to buy and sell. These believers will sell out before using electronic devices on their animals.
There are no controls over what identification devices would cost. We are told that an electronic tag for a calf would cost about $3.00; however, Australians were told the same thing and they are now paying $35 to $37 per tag. In England the cost is reported to be $69 per animal. A producer could possibly absorb that cost when selling a calf, but a sheep or a goat tag that cost that much would take most, if not all, of the profit out of selling an animal. A weanling pig sells for $25 to $50. If an implantable chip cost $20, the animal owner could not make a profit when selling the pig. Combine the cost of the implantable chip and the minimum $20 cost to have a veterinarian draw blood to satisfy state regulations and the pig owner is in the hole before the pig is offered for sale—even before adding sow, boar, and pig feed costs, facility expenses, health care expenses, and hauling expenses. Producers can not stay in business if they do not generate a profit.
Installation of computers, software, chutes, reading devices, etc. would be an expensive proposition for sale barns to meet the proposed USDA guidelines for NAIS. A minimum of $80,000 would be required for a small sale barn to install the required equipment. These costs would be passed on to the independent producer through increased commission charges.
Large animal producers could market their animals by lots and use only one tag per house of animals whereas the small producer would need to tag every animal. The cost of a tag for fowl might well exceed the value of the bird. The small producer would need to tag every bird. Thousands of factory housed chickens or pigs could be slaughtered under one tag. This provision of NAIS establishes an unfair economic advantage for large producers.
The complexity of the proposed reporting of every birth, death, farm exit, farm entry, lost tag, etc. would be a bureaucratic nightmare. Each reporting would also have a cost attached to it that once again would hit the independent producer in the pocket book. The number of proposed required reports for the entire nation would be staggering. Recently predators attacked a 300 head herd of cattle causing them to stampede through fences onto the farm of a statistical analyst who maintained 60 head of cattle. It took days of riding on horseback through many farms to round up the 300 head and separate them from herds they had joined. Under the proposed USDA guidelines, this stampede would have initiated 1800 required reports, according to the statistical analyst. Most independent animal owners would not be willing to do such reporting much less have the time to file such reports. On large ranches with rough terrain, it is impossible to check all livestock on a daily basis. Animals are only accounted for at round up time.
Need for FPI And NAIS:
Out breaks of disease within the United States in animals is common. Serious diseases such as brucellosis, cholera, pseudo rabies, as well as avain influenza have been resolved without an elaborate and expensive FPI and NAIS. Rest assured selling an animal that bangs out results in immediate contact by a state veterinarian. We have an inexpensive cattle tracking system that works. This system could be continued, if needed, and thus there is no need for an expensive and complicated program called NAIS.
Dependability Of NAIS:
Reports from England, Canada, and Australia are detailing extreme expenses by producers for a system that is inefficient in tracing animals through the purchasing chain. Reports have also been published that electronic tags can get viruses that can infect and destroy the data system. Electronic tags can be modified by hackers and lost by animals. The proposed system has been proven to be unreliable in other countries. There is no reason to believe that it will be dependable in the United States.
Supporters of NAIS tell us that FPI and NAIS would prevent or help track terrorist activities that might occur in the animal industry. Nothing could be further from the truth. A national animal data base would pin point the exact location and species of animals for terrorists. As independent animal owners across the nation went out of business because of NAIS, animal ownership would be concentrated in fewer locations and most likely in larger concentrations or in confinement facilities. These concentrated animal locations would make much easier and desirable targets for terrorists than many small farms scattered across the nation.
Imports And Exports:
So many independent animal producers have been forced out of business by low profitability and excessive state regulations that United States agriculture can no longer supply the meat demands of the United States public. The United States currently imports almost twice as much meat as it exports. Reducing meat imports would create more profitability for the farmer and thus encourage people to return to livestock production and thus increase the domestic meat supply. Meat exports are not a concern of small, independent livestock producers. Imports are a major concern, since the United States producer has greater production costs than foreign producers. Imported meat hurts United States producers, while the major packers benefit from brokering imports and purchasing meat at a lower price. In the grocery store, there is presently no differentiation in price between United States meat and foreign meat. Once again the small, independent producer in the United States is placed at a disadvantage as a result of the excessive tonnage of imported meat. Reducing imports would also reduce the possibility of foreign diseases being introduced into the United States. This nation should never become dependent on other nations for its food supply.
Responsibility And Liability:
Independent animal owners work hard to maintain healthy animals. Those who market their livestock and those who consume their own livestock insure they produce healthy animals in healthy surroundings. Once an animal is sold, the original producer has no control over the nutrition, living conditions, or health care of the animal. It is the responsibility of packers to insure that the animals they slaughter are healthy and slaughtered in a sanitary fashion. They should be held liable when they process unhealthy animals. The proposed USDA tracking system seems to place emphasis, identification costs, and most of the responsibility on the farm of animal origin.
Animal owners no longer trust the USDA because their literature about FPI and NAIS is misleading and in many instances contradictory. “A Guide for Small-Scale or Non-Commercial Producers” that the USDA published on June 2, 2006, does not indicate that it supersedes the “DRAFT Strategic Plan 2005 to 2009”. It was not entered into the Federal Register as an official document, nor as a document for which comments were to be accepted. Since it contradicts the “DRAFT Strategic Plan 2005 to 2009”, one must assume that it is basically a press release or a propaganda document and not a change in the USDA “DRAFT Strategic Plan 2005 to 2009”.
Recommendation; FPI and NAIS:
The Arkansas Animal Producer’s Association requests the members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry to recommend de-funding of the USDA FPI and NAIS programs. If the market actually determines that a NAIS is needed, then let those who wish to participate in such a program fund and operate that program. FPI and NAIS should never become federal mandates.
The Arkansas Animal Producer’s Association requests the members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry to implement legislation to repeal the unconstitutional delegation of authority given to the Secretary of Agriculture in the Animal Health Protection Act.
Recommendation; Country of Origin Labeling:
The Arkansas Animal Producer’s Association fully endorses Country of Origin Labeling (COOL). We encourage the members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry to go to any sale barn or any meat market and ask the customers if they support Country of Origin Labeling on meat. Undoubtedly you will receive a 99.99 plus positive response for COOL on all meat products. The producers of meat products and consumers of meat products demand immediate COOL implementation.
Thank you for the opportunity to present the concerns of independent animal producers to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.
By Jane Williams (reprint from “American Family Voice”)
On January 23, 2006, I called the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission (ALPC) offices in Little Rock and requested that they send me a copy of the regulations for premises identification and animal identification. Within minutes of hanging up my phone, Executive Director of the ALPC Phil Wyrick called to discuss the regulations with me. I explained that I did not want to hear an explanation, but that I wanted a copy of the regulations to read and interpret for myself. He then informed me that the Arkansas regulations have not been written. He could not provide me with an approximate date when the writing of the regulations will be completed.
Right now the ALPC is attempting to get all livestock owners to register their premises in accordance with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines. Once the premises identification is completed, 15 digit livestock identification devices can be issued to the premises owner. Beginning January 1, 2008, all livestock entering the commercial market or being co-mingled with livestock from other farms must bear the designated identification device. The premises identification number will be a 7 digit number that is based upon Global Position System (GPS) information. Those premises that do not have a 911 address can request the ALPC to send some one to their farm to take a GPS reading which will become their address for premises identification. Tracking of livestock will begin on January 1, 2009.
I personally have problems with being asked to participate in this premises and livestock identification program when the regulations which I will be required to follow have not been written. Mr. Wyrick kept using the term “voluntary participation”. I told him that the use of the term “voluntary” was mere propaganda, because if I did not participate in the premises identification program that I would not be allowed to sell my livestock. Some choice—get premises ID or sell out.
Because the Arkansas regulations have not been written, there are many rumors floating around about the premises and livestock identification program. States are establishing their regulations based upon USDA guidelines. Texas regulations may be quite different from what the Arkansas regulations end up being. The USDA has no legal jurisdiction over my farm or any other farm. It has issued guidelines that the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission has foolishly bought into and accepted federal funding to finance the ID program. We can work through the Arkansas House and Senate Agriculture Committees to insure that the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission regulations are not too burdensome for those who choose to participate in the program to save their livelihood.
Mr. Wyrick was an extremely articulate man who seemed to be interested in the financial welfare of the small livestock producer. He told me that the average cattle producer in Arkansas has 27 head of animals and an average age of 57-58. There are approximately 60,000 livestock producers in the state and about 5,000 of them have applied for premises identification at this time. He emphasized that he believes that the identification program is necessary to combat animal diseases that might be spread by terrorists, other diseases, and to keep export markets open to U.S. beef. How ever well intentioned Mr. Wyrick may be, it is my opinion that he has bought into the globalist propaganda on terrorism, livestock disease, and international free markets. He has no idea what globalism or the New World Order is all about. He considers them of a political nature and his job, according to him, does not involve politics. I was able to provide him with Mark Purdey’s name and web site in the hope that he, as a large livestock producer, would review the evidence that mad cow disease most probably occurs as a result of the use of organophosphates which cause excess manganese and inadequate copper supplies in the body which allows prion damage in the brain.
Please realize I am merely reporting what Mr. Wyrick told me. The written regulations could end up being quite different, unless we insure that the regulation development is monitored by members of the General Assembly. Since ALPC has no intention of presenting any legislation to the General Assembly, General Assembly members must take the initiative and use their over site or approve legislation so that an appointed committee does not force additional onerous regulations upon livestock producers.
As told to me by Mr. Wyrick, livestock that do not leave a farm will not be required to be identified. If livestock is transported to a veterinarian, then an ID might be required. Plans are being made so that those who do not have the physical facilities or abilities could utilize services of the ALPC, a sale barn, or a veterinarian to attach the animal IDs. Regulations will be different for different animal species. Co-mingling of livestock, such as at sale barns, fairs, and trail rides of a specific number of horses would require animal ID, but a fence downing causing co-mingling would not be considered as co-mingling for purposes of required animal ID or reporting. Mr. Wyrick impressed me as taking a common sense view of the ID issues. He does not plan on the regulations requiring reporting livestock births or deaths. He explained that there are plans for imported livestock to be identified, and that the USDA ID program will track animals to the packer. The FDA will then assume responsibility for tracking the carcass. He anticipates that the cost of the ear tags designated for cattle will cost about $3.00 each. RFID implants will be used on horses. Individuals maintaining livestock for home enjoyment or food will not be required to have a premises identification number or tag their animals if those animals do not leave the premises. If those animals are taken to a slaughterhouse for processing, then in all probability animal identification will be required.
All livestock producers need to become informed and involved in the premises and livestock ID program. I personally believe that it is a waste of time and money to attempt to accomplish its stated purposes, and I am very concerned about the program’s unstated purposes as reported by John Seymour. Many believe this program will bring an end to livestock production as we know it and open the door for more corporate agriculture. Hello Fascism. The ID program has been implemented in Australia, and the reports that are filtering back into the U.S. indicate that it is a complete flop. Tracking every animal butchered has proven beyond the capabilities of their program. Ranchers in western portions of the U.S. are reported to be running GPS recorders off of their properties. Groups around the nation are organizing to refuse to honor the USDA guidelines. In the meantime, most Arkansas livestock associations and many producers are falling all over themselves to support the ID program. Most informed livestock producers do not object to their livestock being identified at the time of sale. What we object to is being issued a federal premises identification that basically becomes a permit to sell livestock. You must offer your opinions to your General Assembly members and especially to the members of the Agriculture Committees. Folks this is super serious. If you do not raise livestock, you probably eat meat. If independent U.S. livestock producers are forced to stop production, you can expect to see higher priced meat, lower quality meat, and less meat available for your consumption.
All commercial livestock producers will be forced to make a decision whether to participate in the ID program or not. The article by John Seymour, WAKE UP FARMERS, published in the February, 2006, AFV will provide information that may assist you in making your decision. I have determined for myself that I will not have a federally issued premises identification, because I do not want the federal government to have any rights regarding my farm. That is also why I do not have a 911 address or participate in any federally funded agriculture programs. That means that by January 1, 2008, under present USDA guidelines that Arkansas plans to follow, that I will be forced to liquidate my cattle herd since after that date, I would be in violation of the “regulations” if I sold them. Home of the brave—land of the free—where are you? How long will it be before humans are required to have identification devices to purchase food, or gasoline, or to attend a public school? Will people stand up for their rights then, or will they continue to accept the abolition of freedom?
Contact Information: Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission, Phil Wyrick, Executive Director, P.O. Box 8505, Little Rock, Arkansas 72215, Phone: (501) 907-2400, FAX: (501) 907-2425.
Did you know?
The number of farms in America has dropped from 6.8 million in 1935 to less than 2 million way back in 1998. Of the remaining farms, large farms make up 8% of all farms yet produces 53% of all products. This does not include grandma with a chicken or a brush goat. There are now more full-time PRISONERS in the US than there are full-time farmers. If NAIS is fully implemented the amount of farms plummet, and the amount of farmers turned criminal, facing prison, will dramatically increase. Our nation is rapidly coming to a point where we will no longer be able to feed ourselves and will be completely dependent on other nations to feed us. Our imports are already larger than our exports. We import twice as much meat as we export. We literally cannot afford to lose any more American farmers. Our dependence on foreign oil should be showing us how we should not be dependent on others for our food, either.