|DO IT FOR THE KIDS!
Our fight is not just for us - it's also for our kids. There are lots of ways to make your voice heard. Here are some suggestions:
Contact your state Department of Agriculture and request, through the Freedom of Information Act, their Cooperative Agreement with the USDA for implementation of the National Animal Identification System.
Contact your state veterinary office and complain about the NAIS.
Call your state senators and representatives and tell them you oppose NAIS. Then keep calling and writing.
Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
Organise a public meeting (we can help with this).
Call your family members, friends, neighbors, etc. and tell them about the NAIS.
Contact those running for public office and ask them where they stand on the NAIS.
Make copies of fliers, posters, petitions, etc. and hand them out even to businesses such as feed stores. Hand them out at horse shows, goat shows, chuckwagon races, horse sales, sale barns, etc.
Contact your County Extension Office and make your views about the NAIS known to the 4-H Department. This is also affecting FFA.
Join the Arkansas Animal Producer's Association, and get all your friends and neighbors to do the same.
CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS TODAY!
Information Alert on NAIS:
Dealing with a Visit to Your Farm
In the wake of reports of USDA abuses and failure to follow rules, some people are worried about what to do if the USDA or State Agriculture Department shows up at their property and alleges that they have diseased
animals. THE FOLLOWING IS NOT OFFERED AS LEGAL OR MEDICAL ADVICE. These are simply some thoughts about the options. Each person should find a local attorney and veterinarian to help them make decisions about their
animals and their rights.
- Plan ahead. Have the following names and phone numbers written down in your wallet:
A. A veterinarian you trust who is willing to come out at any time. Preferably, have two veterinarians available, one of which is government-certified for the major disease(s) of concern in your state.
B. A local attorney.
C. The local newspaper or TV news station. Make some direct contacts now, by talking to them about the NAIS issue.
D. A trusted neighbor or two. Arrange for a "phone tree" ahead of time among a few neighbors, so that you can ask a couple of calm, level-headed people to come to your place to act as witnesses as to what is
happening. It is critical that everyone stay calm.
- Keep good records on your animals, especially records of animal purchases, testing, and health records. Have backups of all documents, kept separately from your main files, so that you will still have a copy
if they take your files and computer.
- Ask the USDA or State Ag agent for their name, title, and specific basis for their visit to your property. Ask if anyone has filed a complaint against you.
- Ask to see the warrant. If they do not have a warrant, you may choose to allow them in or you may choose to state that you are refusing to allow them onto your property. If you refuse and they come onto your
property anyway, ask them for the specific statute and regulation under which they claim authority. Immediately write it down or, preferably, have a small tape deck or video recorder that you can use to record the response.
- Do not rely on oral statements about testing results, quarantine procedures, depopulation procedures, compensation, etc. Ask for a written statement on all of these issues from the agents.
- Ask that your veterinarian be allowed to draw samples for independent testing of any alleged disease. If they refuse, ask for a written statement or record their response with a tape or video recorder.
- If they hand you something to sign, read it very carefully. If the signature only acknowledges receipt of the document, it may make sense to sign it. But if the signature indicates that you agree with the contents of the document, do not sign unless you truly agree with what the document states, including the fine print.
- If they state that the animals must be taken away or killed, be prepared to make a decision: do you agree that this is necessary? If you do not agree, talk with your attorney and veterinarian.
- If they insist on taking or killing your animals without your consent, document what they do with photos and/or a video camera.
- It may be helpful to make notes immediately after the event, while it is all fresh in your memory. Stick strictly to the facts - what happened, what was said, etc. Do not include any personal opinions,
background, or anything else.
Again, this is NOT intended as legal or medical advice. Each person needs to find a local attorney and veterinarian to help them make decisions about their animals and their rights.
To learn more about what USDA and State Ag departments are doing, visit
IF YOU HAVE SIGNED THE PREMISE ID REGISTRATION AND WANT TO OPT OUT, PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING:
REVOKING SIGNATURE ON FARM PREMISES IDENTIFICATION APPLICATION
If you were not fully informed about the Farm Premises Identification program when you filed an application for a Farm Premises Identification, you may legally revoke your signature. Send letters to the Secretary Of Agriculture and the Director of the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission revoking your signature and asking to have your farm premises identification number removed. You can state that you are revoking your signature because you were not fully informed about the Farm Premises Identification. Ask them to send you confirmation in writing that your Farm Premises Identification has been removed. Send you letter certified with a request for a return receipt. Hang on to that receipt. Make sure you sign and date your letter.
Secretary Of Agriculture Mike Johanns
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave.
S.W. Washington, D.C. 20250
Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission
P.O. Box 8505
Little Rock, AR 72215
Phone Number: 501-907-2400
Fax Number: 501-907-2425
Phil Wyrick is the contact for the Arkansas NAIS.
UPDATE: FROM AN ARAPA MEMBER -
Guess what? If you have VOLUNTEERED to receive a Premises ID # from the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission, you
are not allowed at this time to "un-volunteer" or retract your decision. You volunteered for a mandatory program.
I wrote first to the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission to see how someone who volunteered could retract. The office e-mailed
me that it does not know how to take names off the list of "volunteers" at this time, but would check with the USDA on how to do it. The one thing the office can do, however, is to put your name on an "inactive list".
Next, I wrote to the USDA and received a reply which stated,
"The individual States and Tribal Nations are responsible for registering under NAIS. Accordingly, you would need to contact the appropriate State officials to retract or otherwise change your registration information. Mr. Phil Wyrick of the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission (ARLPC) is the current NAIS contact for your State. The mailing address is ARLPC, #1 Natural Resources Drive. Little Rock, Arkansas 72205. The telephone number is (501) 907-2400. Mr. Wyrick's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org."
This morning, September 14th, I called the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission to ask why they couldn't remove names, since the USDA told me the ball was in their hands. I spoke with Cindy Taylor who said the Little Rock office does not know how to remove any names. The software used in setting up the list doesn't have a way to delete names. She said she had requested information from the USDA about how to delete names and is still awaiting its reply.
After the conversation with her, I called Senator Blanche Lincoln's office, and the office referred me to Cynthia Edwards who is Lincoln's USDA contact. I asked her if she could please tell me the correct procedure to be removed from the list at the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission's office. She didn't know, but said she would check with the USDA and the ALPC, and call me back. About an hour later she called and said that AT THIS TIME the USDA does NOT have a way to remove any volunteers but "is working on it". She said for me to call back the first of the year, 2007, and check again.
I do not think the USDA plans to let anyone "un-volunteer" or retract his Premises ID #. I will be very surprised if the USDA actually comes up with a way to delete names from its list.
All the more reason to fight this monstrous NAIS plan. If "we the people" do not get it stopped, it will be just like "voluntary" Social Security and the "voluntary" income tax. By law, both are still "voluntary", but just try not to participate!
I also asked Cindy Taylor at the ALPC office how many Arkansans have volunteered for a Premises ID # and she said she had a list of close to 6,000. I asked how many have requested a retraction. She said 3.
Too bad a few thousand would not ask to be removed!
For an NAIS free Arkansas!
DON'T LET THIS STOP YOU FROM GETTING YOUR NAME REMOVED - DEMAND IT! THEY HAVE NO RIGHT TO KEEP YOU FROM UN-VOLUNTEERING FROM THE NAIS.
Not since Prohibition has any government agency attempted to enshrine in law a system, which so thoroughly stigmatizes and burdens
common, everyday behavior and is so certain to meet with huge resistance from the citizens it unjustly targets.~ Dr. Mary Zanoni
"Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people. Let us dare to read, think, speak and write."
John Adams, August, 1765
Sample letters and phone calls
Here are two sample letters you can copy or adapt for your own communications to congressmen.
Any point of disagreement you have with the NAIS program may be substituted for the one given in each of these sample letters, like the ones at the end of this issue's article "Feds Eyeing Your Flocks & Fields." Don't wait: Write or call today, and again each week with another point.
Sample letter 1 Senator (senator's name)
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Sen. (senator's name),
I am writing to ask you to help stop the USDA's National Animal Identification System (NAIS) program funding until it adds language prohibiting the use of data that farmers are forced to turn over to NAIS from being used against them.
My friend/relative (name of same) and all my friends at the (your local farmers association, feed mill, etc.) agree with me on this. I will help you with this in any way I can; just call or write me.
(Your mailing address)
Phone: (Your phone number)
E-mail: (Your e-mail)
Sample letter 2
Rep. (representative's name)
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Rep. (rep.'s name)
This letter is to ask you to help stop the USDA's National Animal Identification System (NAIS) program funding until it adds procedures for farmers to recover damages when privacy is compromised by government releases of private data we're being forced to submit to the NAIS.
My friend/relative (friend or relative's name) of (their home town) first warned me about this, and all my friends at the (name of church, school, organization etc.) are worried about it. I will help you fight this if you call or write.
(Your mailing address)
Phone: (Your phone number)
E-mail: (Your e-mail)
A sample phone call
Phone calls allow answerers to ask you questions for added information. Stick to your main point and try to avoid getting off subject. Assistants that answer your call are usually kind and courteous-be respectful and you'll be respected.
Answerer: "Senator Smith's office."
You: "I'm calling to ask Senator Smith to oppose all funding for the USDA's National Animal Identification System until they add a five-year re-authorization provision-just in case this program gets as intrusive, expensive and ineffective as a lot of experts are already predicting."
Answerer: "You're saying you're against the NAIS bill?"
You: "Well that's just it. It hasn't been debated at all, and the USDA says they want to force my dad and me to give them sensitive personal data-and that they won't guarantee its privacy! And they also said they'll soon make us put implants in our animals at our own expense!"
Answerer: "That sounds pretty weird. Are you sure you have your facts straight on this?"
You: "Oh yes ma'am, it says right on page eight of the USDA-APHIS Program Aid #1820-The National Animal Id-ent-if-ic-ation System Questions and Answers: 'The NAIS plan is being developed as an industry-Government partnership, so it is expected that industry and the Government will share the cost of the necessary elements.'
"But now listen ma'am. Right after that it says, 'APHIS does not envision any significant Federal funding being used for individual animal tags or other such devices.' A lot of us are concerned because the NAIS website claims we all want this forced on us, but I haven't heard of or spoken to anyone who isn't against these mandates. They claim it's just a draft plan, but they're already implementing it in several states."
Answerer: "And your phone number sir, is . . . .?"
How to write Congressmen
Facts about representatives
All members of the U.S. House of Representatives are up for re-election every other year. They are therefore often more motivated to keep constituents happy than senators. Representatives usually represent fewer people than senators (not true in states of small populations). They have less power than senators to block legislation, and there are over four times as many of them, so a representative isn't as powerful-but don't underestimate them; they are resourceful and quite intimidating to bureaucrats when they want to be. All spending bills must by law originate in the House.
Here's where to write or call:
Rep. (Representative's Name), Washington, D.C. 20515
House switchboard phone number: (202) 225-3121
House website: www.house.gov
Facts about senators
Every state has 2 senators; each is elected "at large." They don't just represent a small district, but the state as a whole.
Senators' terms last six years, and one third of them face re-election when all representatives are elected.
Senators carry a lot of clout. A single senator can hold up the passage of all kinds of legislation to win favors for political allies, or to hurt political foes. That includes delaying funding of any agency of government almost indefinitely.
Here's where to write or call:
Sen. (Senator's Name), Washington, D.C., 20510
Senate switchboard phone number: (202) 224-3121
Senate website: www.senate.gov
How to write
Every congressman keeps track of all communications-phone calls, e-mails, letters/postcards, telegrams and personal visits. Calls and letters are recorded-pro and con.
Two letters sent a few days apart are considered more influential than two letters sent the same day, especially if each letter makes a new argument for or against a specific issue.
Don't assume congressmen or their aides are familiar with the program or issue you are writing about. Congress is a big place and covers a lot of territory. Make sure nothing needs explaining.
Keep letters short; stay on message. Offer to help them carry out your request in any way you can. Mention a friend or family member who shares your opinion. Mention local groups that agree with you.
Stick to one subject in your communication, whether it's a phone call, e-mail, letter/postcard, telegram or personal visit. This makes it easy for sometimes-youthful assistants to classify and write down your concerns.
Often a congressman will actually see a letter a constituent writes, but usually not. Either way, be personable-don't address it "Dear Senator," but instead use his or her name, like this: "Dear Senator Jones. . . " You look like a potential ally, not an adversary.
Always address the politician respectfully. Never threaten or insult in any way-if you do, they'll assume they can't get your vote no matter what they do, and will not worry about your opinion. Dirt thrown is ground lost. Respect begets respect.
And remember, write often. This may eventually lead to their calling you when they need to get an opinion of whether constituents will support a bill.
Nathan Griffith is the editor of sheep! magazine. To see a sample copy, call 800-551-5691, write sheep! magazine, 145 Industrial Dr., Medford, WI 54451; or visit www.sheepmagazine.com.
Then They Came for the Cattle Ranchers...
First, they came for the cattle ranchers (although they already knew how to find BSE)
But I was not a cattle rancher, so I did not fight.
Then, they came for the sheep ranchers (although the sprapies program worked fine)
But I had no sheep, so I did not speak out
They came next for the goat herders (who already tattooed their goats)
But I did not consider their plight my own
Then, they came for the chickens and ducks, but "only the large producers"
So I did not fight against NAIS
Again they came, this time for the pigs (although pig farmers have proper husbandry)
But I did not raise pigs, so I did not fight
Then they came after the Llamas and Alpacas but they were expensive animals
So none of the ranchers fought, even those who owned them
Then, they tagged all the horses, but the AQHA and Jockeys said it was all right, not to worry
So I did not think I would lose my right to trail ride
Then, in waves, they came after
The elk ranchers
The deer herders
The bison ranchers
Then, when the numbers were not enough, they came for the small farmers
And I, now a felon with chickens and a horse, had no one to speak for me.