INFO ON USDA'S NEW "USER'S GUIDE"
     
MEMBERSHIP FORM and PETITION

USDA HANDBOOK addresses Farmers as Uneducated

What is DEPOPULATION?

Points For Opposing Animal ID

Export Myths and Fairytales

NASS Survey Information

ARAPA Statement to the Senate Ag Committee

Codex Alimentarius

FORCED NAIS

Sound Science Killing Us

What Can I Do?

2006 ARKANSAS COOPERATIVE AGREEMENT WITH USDA

What are the vets saying?

BREAKING NEWS

Congressmen Speak Out

International Entanglements

What is COOL?

Mad Cow Madness

CONTACT US

By-Laws

2007 ARKANSAS COOPERATIVE AGREEMENT WITH USDA

Important Links

ARKANSAS ANIMAL PRODUCERS ASSOCIATION

Photos From Conway Meeting

FREEDOM TO FARM ACT UPDATES

ALERTS

Corporate Hostile Takeover

What About The Amish?

CONSTITUTION RULES

How do Packers fit in?

The Real Reason for Animal ID

AUSSIE ANIMAL ID IMPACT STUDY

Endangered Property Rights

Organic & Grassfed Growers Also Affected

DATABASES - How Safe Are They?

Wake Up, Farmers!

USDA/APHIS NAIS DOCUMENTS

CAPTIVE ANIMAL FACTORY FARMING

Technology Behind NAIS

AUSSIE RANCHER SPEAKS OUT

NIAA Conference Reports

Pushing Us Off Our Farms

Ag Lawyer Responds to the NAIS

NAIS SUMMARY

INDUSTRIALIZED FARMING

Uncle Sam Wants YOUR Animals!

HORSE TIMELINE FOR NAIS INCLUSION

NAIS DRAFT STRATEGIC PLAN

What is REAL ID?

"CREATIVE" SIGN-UPS BY THE GOVERNMENT

Animal ID Problems in Other Countries

Farm Bureau Connection

NAIS Threatens Rare Breeds

RFID Tags - Good, Bad & Ugly

R-CALF USA Fights NAIS

Retired Army Colonel Rebuts NAIS

Equine Species Working Group Contacts

BRUCE KNIGHT'S SPEECH

INFO ON USDA'S NEW "USER'S GUIDE"

SCRAPIE ID for Goats/Sheep & the NAIS

NAIS ID Terminology

GETTING OUT OF THE NAIS

The PLUM ISLAND CONNECTION

The Plan is AGENDA 21

4-H, FFA Targeted at Fairs

MICROCHIPS Cause CANCER

Leon's Story - Chipped Dog Died From Cancer

TRACKING ROGUE CHICKENS

Protection From Terrorist Livestock

NAIS NEWS in OTHER STATES

Truth about FOOD CONTAMINATION

TRUTH about Foot & Mouth Vaccines

MICROCHIP PROBLEMS IN DUTCH HORSES

What is DELPHI TECHNIQUE

NEW INFORMATION ON EQUINES

2005 ARKANSAS COOPERATIVE AGREEMENT WITH USDA/APHIS

CONTACT GENERAL ASSEMBLY MEMBERS FOR ARKANSAS

Bird Flu Fowl Play

USDA, INCORPORATED

ECONOMIC IMPACT ON HORSE OWNERS

 
This is very important!
The USDA has issued "A User Guide" that they say replaces the Draft Strategic Plan, Draft Program Standards, and the Implementation Strategies.
 
As you read, keep this in mind:
 
In the 6th Edition of Black's Law Dictionary on page 1575 is the definition of VOLUNTARY.
"Voluntary. Unconstrained by interference; unimpelled by another's influence; Resulting from free choice, without compulsion or solicitation. The word, especially in statutes, often implies knowledge of essential facts...."

Liberty Ark Action Alert: Comments Due Monday January 22, 2007, on USDA's November 2006 User Guide
 
November 23, 2006, USDA issued a National Animal Identification System (NAIS): A User Guide and Additional Information Resources" and invited comments to it on or before January 22, 2007.  If you are interested in sending comments on the User Guide to USDA, this Alert will assist you.
 
If you haven't seen the User Guide, you can find it at
http://animalid.aphis.usda.gov/nais/naislibrary/userguide.shtml.
 
You can submit comments by e-mail to
animalidcomments@aphis.usda.gov <mailto:animalidcomments@aphis.usda.gov?subject=NAIS%20Draft%20User%20Guide> please include "NAIS Draft User Guide" in the subject line, or by mail to:
 
NAIS Program Staff
 Attn: NAIS Draft User Guide
 Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA
 Unit 200
 4700 River Road  Riverdale, Maryland 20737
 
 
At the end of this action alert are talking points you can use them to develop your written comments. Focus on the issues that are most important to you and personalize your comments.  It is also very important to send a copy of any letters to your elected officials. You can find who your legislator is at 
http://www.libertyark.net/tools.shtml - under "/Contact Information for Your Elected Officials./"

 As always, if you have questions or concerns, you can reach us at
noah@libertyark.net <mailto:noah@libertyark.net>.
 
 
ASK YOUR FRIENDS TO SIGN UP TO SUPPORT LIBERTY ARK'S FIGHT AGAINST NAIS. SEND THEM THIS LINK:
http://libertyark.net/pledge.dyn
 
 
Talking Points on the November 2006 NAIS USDA User Guide
 
 
        The USDA has announced that the National Animal Identification System is voluntary at the federal level only, but states it has the authority to still make NAIS mandatory.  Thus we are still not protected from a mandatory national NAIS.  USDA's recitation of "voluntary" 29 times in the Guide still does not make it so.
         The User Guide is clearly marked "DRAFT" thus is subject to change.  This means we still don't have the final federal story on NAIS plans.
 
        This User Guide wasn't even announced in the Federal Register. Thus, USDA has abandoned any pretense at following required administrative law procedure.  There is no statutory or regulatory basis for this User Guide.
 
        The requirements under the new User Guide are even less clear than the original USDA NAIS documents, and that along with the growing variety of state premises registration and animal ID programs will create uncertainty and confusion, and allow states to establish programs even more onerous than the original federal NAIS program.
 
        The Guide authorizes the use of datamining by states to produce so-called "voluntary" premise registrations. These have been used by the states to fraudulently claim farmers and ranchers have chosen of their own free will to participate in premises registration and NAIS.  This is unethical and a violation of citizens' reasonable expectation that information provided to one animal health program will not be used in a program to which they have not consented, and which now represents them to have volunteered for.
 
        USDA still has not performed a cost benefit analysis of NAIS and the estimated cost data in the User Guide are  spurious and underestimated.
 
        If the program is truly to support market requirements, then the market should support it.
 
       The User Guide repeats prior statements that NAIS is for disease control.  However, USDA has failed to produce scientific proof that NAIS will control disease.
 
        The potential abuses of the data are too numerous to list, and include its use to consolidate livestock markets and destroy what competition still exists.

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Copyright 2006 by Mary Zanoni.  The following article may be distributed solely for personal and non-commercial use without prior permission from the author.   Non-commercial distribution and posting to assist in disseminating information about NAIS is, in fact, encouraged, so long as proper credit is given and the article is reproduced without changes or deletions.  Any other distribution or republication requires the author's permission in writing and requests for such permission should be directed to the author at the address/phone/e-mail address below.

A Preliminary Analysis of the USDA's NAIS User Guide of November 2006 

by

Mary Zanoni, Ph.D., J.D.

P.O. Box 501

Canton, NY 13617

315-386-3199

mlz@slic.com

 

            The following are preliminary points meant to contribute to the early and continuing discussion of this newly released (as of November 22, 2006) USDA document concerning the National Animal Identification System.  I plan to write further on some of the key issues related to the User Guide in the near future.  At the close of the discussion is a list of suggestions for further action.

 

            1.  The only real "difference" from this year's prior Implementation Plan documents is the absence of stated dates for certain target levels of participation.  The document still envisions making everyone comply with NAIS eventually.  (See, e.g., User Guide, p. 5, "The goal is to establish a complete record of all locations, or premises, in the United States that manage or hold livestock and/or poultry.")  (Emphasis added.)

 

            2.  Note that Rep. Collin Peterson (D. Minnesota, 7th Dist.), expected to chair the House Agriculture Committee in the next Congress beginning in January 2007, lately has been quoted as favoring a "mandatory" NAIS.  (Presumably Rep. Peterson does not yet understand the harms NAIS will cause to small farmers and animal owners, and the unfair boon it will be to the multinational meat industry and tech industry.  Let's help him realize the true state of affairs by contacting his office and pointing out the harms of NAIS.)

 

            The USDA's increased (but misleading) emphasis on "voluntary" may well be nothing more than an attempt to shift blame to Rep. Peterson and some of his fellow party members for a "mandatory" plan that the present administration's USDA really hopes will be implemented.

 

            3.  Note that the User Guide was released late in the day on Thanksgiving eve.  This is a typical tactic for actions that bureaucrats hope might escape too much notice.  Further, unlike the release of the Implementation Plan of April 2006, the release of the User Guide was not accompanied by a well-publicized news conference by Secretary Johanns.

 

            4.  The User Guide subtly reveals some new tactics the USDA is planning to employ for imposing "creeping mandatory" NAIS on animal owners who do not actually "volunteer."  Note the following passage from p. 8 of the Guide:

 

            "USDA believes participation in the main components of NAIS can occur as a result of standard business practices.  For example, in order for producers to obtain official identification devices, they first need to register for a premises identification number.  Accordingly, the success of the premises registration component would be achieved through the participation of producers in longstanding disease management programs and compliance with interstate movement regulations."

 

            Translation of the above bureaucratic verbiage:  If you want to buy, sell, or move animals in interstate transactions, or if you participate in a required (e.g., for many dairy producers) or voluntary disease program such as TB or brucellosis testing or calfhood vaccination, the USDA is going to force you to use NAIS Animal Identification Numbers (AINs) for these programs, and will also force you to get a premises ID as a prerequisite to getting the forced AINs.

 

            5.  The USDA propaganda machine really went into high gear to produce the User Guide.  The main propaganda objective is falsely to paint any NAIS non-participants as somehow "antisocial."

 

            Of course, the real facts are that people opposed to NAIS base their opposition on their positive religious, spiritual, social, and ethical values, and they want to create a more just world for all.  NAIS opponents want a local, human-scaled economy that supports true family farming, offers fair compensation for producing food and other basic needs, and discourages greed, excessive commercialism, and materialism.  In contrast, the pushers of NAIS -- originally multinational meatpackers and tech corporations -- are driven by greed for undeserved profit and power.  In particular, the tech corporations will happily microchip your grandmother or your baby if they think they can make a buck doing it -- these corporations absolutely do not care about the obviously negative spiritual, social, and political consequences of their behavior.

 

            The USDA User Guide attempts to turn these true values of things upside down.  Consider the following statement from the Guide (p. 2):

 

            "There are a number of reasons for producers to participate in NAIS.  One of the most important reasons is to better protect animal health.  People who own or work with animals, or depend on them for income, understand how absolutely important this is -- for themselves, their neighbors, and their surrounding communities."

 

Thus the USDA spinmeisters falsely paint NAIS opponents -- who in reality are religiously and socially dedicated people sacrificing their own time and money to promote a better future for all people, all animals, all of creation and nature -- the USDA falsely paints these dedicated people as somehow not sufficiently attentive to "neighbors" and "communities."

 

            Curiously, the USDA never seems to have anything bad to say about the CAFOs and CAFO-dependent multinational meatpackers who pollute our air and water, create dangerous resistant bacteria by overuse of antibiotics, squander immense amounts of fossil fuels to produce and transport their products, treat animals like fungible "units of production" to be kept in total confinement, pay displaced foreign workers substandard wages, and drive family farmers and small local entrepreneurs out of business.

 

Suggested Actions

 

            The issuance of the User Guide should not change the planned actions of NAIS opponents; rather, the Guide's misleading propaganda should inspire NAIS opponents to continue their socially responsible work.

 

            -- Do not rely on expressing your opinions to NAIS Working Groups or other "insiders" such as extension agents or government animal-health workers.  Instead, make your opposition to NAIS known where it counts -- to your U.S. Congressman and U.S. Senator and to state senators and representatives.

 

            -- Seek an end to all federal funding of NAIS.  Good organizations to support in this regard are the National Independent Consumer and Farmer Advocates Fund (NICFA) and the Virginia Independent Consumers and Farmers Association (VICFA) -- check them out at www.vicfa.net.

 

            -- Work for state legislation to prohibit acceptance of USDA NAIS funds by state agriculture and animal health departments, and legislation prohibiting state involvement in premises ID/animal ID/animal tracking.

 

            -- Demand animal products produced without participation in NAIS.

 

            -- Avoid purchasing industrially-produced animal products and encourage others to boycott such foods.

 

-- Obviously, do not sign up for any "voluntary" aspects of NAIS.  Avoid any actions that might trigger "forced voluntary" NAIS, such as need for interstate shipping permits or participation in "voluntary" government-sponsored animal-related programs.

 

            -- Avoid attending any animal-related fairs or shows that require NAIS premises ID or animal ID.  Instead, arrange your own animal-related events with trusted neighbors or friends.

 

            -- Oppose any attempts by the USDA or state agriculture departments to obtain statutory exemptions from freedom-of-information laws for NAIS information.  Remember, bureaucrats will be unable to implement NAIS if they cannot get FOIA exemptions for their databases.

 

            -- Work to repeal the already-mandatory premises ID in Wisconsin and Indiana, and the soon-to-be-mandatory RFID tagging for cattle in Michigan.  Help your friends and family from these states to relocate, if necessary.

 

            -- Refuse to buy any land that has a premises ID or any animals that have NAIS animal identification numbers.

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NEW COMMENTS ABOUT THE "GUIDE"!  Jan. 17, 2007

NAIS Useless Guide and the Fine Art of Gerrymandering
A Primer in Agency law and Federal Monetary Manipulation

by Doreen Hannes
animalwaitress@yahoo.com

The new USDA “User Guide” for NAIS is an attempt by the USDA to deflect criticism and responsibility for the program to the State Departments of Agriculture and to State legislatures. The definition of gerrymandering is unfair manipulation in a political sense. The USDA does that with real finesse in the User Guide.

The most important thing to understand is the process by which agencies make law or “regulations” . As of this writing, the USDA has not followed the procedure necessary for the User Guide to meet requirements of an official document with any real moderating effects on the previous documents.

The User’s Guide was not entered into the Federal Register and the previous documents, the Draft Strategic Plan, Standards and Tech Supplement as well as Implementation Plan, have not been withdrawn from the Federal Register. Thus the USDA’s opening statement, “The 2006 User Guide is the most current plan for NAIS and replaces all previously published program documents, including the 2005 Draft Strategic Plan and Draft Program Standards and the 2006 Implementation Strategies” is what we in the Midwest call a bald faced lie. Since people are generally kept in the dark about how Federal agency rules and regulations are made, here is an attempt to explain it in its most simplistic form.

First and foremost, the agency must have the authority to enact the rules they are proposing. Then they must enter their proposed rule into the Federal Register serving as public notice of their intent. Typically, there will be a period of time for the public to comment on any proposed rules, and the public’s comments are available in the reading room in DC or electronically online. After the public comment period the agency must then enter notice of their final rulemaking regarding the regulation. Then the regulation they have made will be codified (put into the proper titles and chapters amending existent regulations where applicable) and entered into the body of law called the “Code of Federal Regulations” , or CFR.

To date, the USDA has not followed this procedure on three documents they have released regarding NAIS. Oddly enough, the documents that haven’t followed proper procedure are all the documents that supposedly moderate the National Animal Identification System into something slightly less than pure evil.

The first document that was designed to calm the concerns of the public is “The Guide for Small Scale and Non-Commercial Producers”. This document was released in June and was sent to several thousand Missouri residents by Congresswoman JoAnn Emerson to assure them that the NAIS was actually nothing to be concerned about. However, Linda Campbell, the chair of the Goat Species Working Group told me personally that she believed the Guide for Small Scale and Non Commercial Producers was actually written by a PR firm. She was aware that I was both with a small paper and an opponent of the NAIS. The “Guide for Small Scale and Non Commercial Producers” also fails to allow people who choose not to participate in the NAIS to engage in established avenues of commerce. In other words, if you don’t want to buy or sell any stock, the NAIS will remain voluntary.

The second document the USDA failed to enter into the Federal Register was a slightly amended version of the April ‘06 Implementation Strategies. In the amended version the USDA deleted one paragraph (headed as “Contingency Plan” in the original document) regarding following the rule making process, should they fail to achieve their benchmark participation goals, including 100% compliance. They also removed the term “meta data” in two sentences and supplanting it with ATPS (Animal Trace Processing System) in one of those sentences. The last change was removing the word February ‘07 and replacing it with Spring ‘07 in a timeline.

The User Guide is the third document to fail to make it’s way into the Federal Register. Considering the statement in the document that this is to replace all previous documents and that this is the “comprehensive” document regarding NAIS, it is terrifically inadequate. The User Guide doesn’t give info on technology specifics, reporting requirements, incentive particulars, FOIA exemption, liability issues, nor is there any impact analysis. There is an extremely understated cost estimate for the actual identification devices, but no cost estimate for program participation. It’s akin to saying the diploma on a vet’s office wall is the cost of an education in Veterinary Science. In laymen’s terms, it is absolute bunk. There will more on the User Guide throughout the rest of this article.

The manner in which federal agencies get states to cooperate with their programs is predominately through funding. The funding is carried out through the appropriations bills of both state and federal governments. In the state of Missouri, more than half of the budget is comprised of federal monies for various and sundry programs. Many other states are in similar or even worse positions than Missouri. Sticking with the NAIS and it’s implementation, let’s look at the mechanisms used to develop the system.

Each state and tribe as well as the territories of the United States Federal Government signed cooperative agreements with the Veterinary Services division of the USDA. These agreements are binding contracts. All of the criteria for a legal and binding contract are met within the cooperative agreements. There is a definitive overview of the purpose, roles and responsibilities of each party are clearly defined and there is an exchange of consideration in the form of federal funds making the state responsible for fulfilling their part of the contract in the specified amount of time the CA covers. There are numerous forms to fill out and lots of ancillary agreements contained in the cooperative agreements signed by the states in ‘05, 06, and the application for ‘07.

One aspect of the fraudulent practices being employed by not only the USDA, but virtually every Federally Funded program, is attested to by the required acceptance of terms outlined in two forms. The forms referenced as SF-424A and SF-424B must be agreed to in order to get the Federal Funding the states are so accustomed to receiving. These forms cause the applicant to agree to fulfill Executive Orders related to the Environmental Protection Agency and Clean Air and Water and Wild Rivers acts, which align agencies and states into co-enforcement agreements with no legislative oversight on behalf of elected officials. The Executive Orders are listed only numerically and not topically and people would actually have to chase down information to find out what they are really agreeing to do when they are ostensibly signing on for just one Federal program.

The Cooperative Agreement Announcement for ‘07 regarding NAIS is a tremendously convicting piece of work. Not only does it contain agreeance to SF- 424A and B, it also shows beyond a shadow of a doubt the USDA’s continual attempt at lying and deceiving the public regarding their intent with the NAIS program. Just one excerpt from the Cooperative Agreement Announcement for ‘07, puts the mantra of “voluntary at the federal level” replete in the User Guide, to rest.

On page 16 of the Cooperative Agreement Announcement for ‘07 regarding the goals and objectives the states are to achieve it states:

“Outline a Plan of Action” Provide a brief overview of the work to be performed and how the plan builds on the 2005 or 2006 cooperative agreement plan. Also, explain how this plan will support the timelines for full implementation of NAIS as outlined in the draft strategic plan.

The User Guide is loaded with references to interstate commerce and induced participation in the program to continue to engage in normal agricultural business activities like buying and selling stock. It is already illegal to remove an official USDA identification device from an animal, so if you should buy a cow with the 15 digit NAIS animal identification number you will automatically be engaged in that program whether you “volunteer” or not. The individual selling the cow is required to report to whom the cow was sold and what date the sale took place. This will enroll you in premise and animal identification regardless of your desire, or lack of desire, to participate in the program. You can find this juicy little tidbit on page 38 of the printed version of the User Guide:

“the animal should have identification attached according to the instructions provided by the manufacturer of the device before leaving its current premises when the movement is reportable (see the section on animal movement). Animals are identified only once, not every time the animal is moved. The animal identification number(AIN) device is to be maintained on the animal, and the AIN on the device is associated with the animal for the animal’s entire life.”

On the very next page is a wonderful example of the truly compulsory force NAIS will be:

“USDA has no plans to make participation in any component of NAIS mandatory. However, as mentioned previously, there are existing regulations for certain diseases such as brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) that require identification for interstate movement for some animals and, in some cases, define the devices that can be used. Under § 71.22, intentional removal of or tampering with official identification devices is prohibited. Specifically, it is unlawful to remove an official identification device or cause the removal of one unless the animal is terminated, except in cases when a device has become illegible or the device malfunctions.”

“A User Guide” shows on page 47 that it is the activity of commerce that the NAIS truly wishes to control by categorizing private sale as a high risk reportable activity. This is where they will get everyone eventually through trickle down NAIS.

It is abundantly clear that NAIS is being shoved upon a strongly opposed public via executive branch fiat and the manipulation of State governments through the use of Federal Funds. This methodology will help the USDA to shift the blame for the draconian program to the States and their agriculture departments or individual state legislatures.

The Cooperative Agreement Announcement for ‘07 also asks the state agriculture departments how far they have progressed in getting legislation to help legitimize both the existence of the program and the deceitful manner in which they have garnered the number of premises they have registered. Here is an excerpt from page 12 discussing that very point:

USDA will provide funding for:

“The Integration of existing State systems with the SPRS or a CPRS. This “pulling” of data from existing databases that already contain premises related information seems to be a prudent and cost effective method in many cases. States must carefully consider whether this type of data integration to register livestock premises under NAIS would be interpreted as “voluntary” and if this would create any problems for premises registration in the long term.”

Yet there is hope. As referenced several times in the original documents of the Draft Strategic Plan there will need to be state level enabling legislation to get the program to work. If the individual states will stand up and preclude participation in the NAIS from their state and allow people to be removed from the database of premise registration when they desire to be removed the system will fall on it’s face.

Since the only real need for the system’s existence is to fulfill World Trade Organization’ s Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) agreements, it is entirely possible to allow those who wish to export the opportunity to participate in this type of program, otherwise known as QSA and Export Verification Services, and allow them to pay for the system and reap whatever “premiums” they believe they may earn through their participation. Those who have no desire to sell internationally would then have no need to participate in the program. This would require that the USDA give up their false “disease control” premise and allow people to decide for themselves whether or not they desire to participate in international trade. Of course, this would also require that multinational corporate agribusinesses actually contract with people who want to deal with them instead of using the government agencies and legislatures as their contract providers.

The States must individually stand for their private citizens and pass legislation that disables or destroys the NAIS. Our representatives must be educated on the program as well its effects on both our liberty and our livelihoods and held to their oaths by those who have put them in office. If we don’t have the resolve to inform them of our objections and refusal to allow this to happen in our state or nation, then we don’t deserve the freedoms our forefathers died to endow us with.

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Liberty Ark Alert: New USDA NAIS User Guide

The USDA has just published a new plan for implementing the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), entitled: "National Animal Identification System (NAIS): A User Guide and Additional Information Resources." See http://animalid.aphis.usda.gov/nais/naislibrary/userguide.shtml

USDA's document is written to convince the public that NAIS is a good idea, that it will be voluntary, and that we have nothing to worry about. That message is far from the whole truth, however. The USDA appears to be tailoring their message based on complaints received, while maintaining the same end result. The following analysis is based on an initial review of the new plan and only covers the highlights. We will publish an in-depth analysis on our website in the near future and will be submitting comments to the USDA. We encourage you to let us know what flaws and omissions you find in the document. Please email us at: noah@...

The User Guide is Not a Final, Complete Document

The User Guide is clearly marked "DRAFT." Remember that this is not the final plan, and it is subject to change, not necessarily for the better. Once NAIS becomes operational, all the promises in this version can be changed by USDA at their pleasure. Federal agencies are supposed to base their rules on law, but the USDA has created and implemented this massive program based on nothing more than a couple of vague references in a federal statute that in no way refers to NAIS. The plan is written by bureaucrats at USDA, not by Congress.

The User Guide states that it replaces all previous USDA plans for NAIS. But essentially the same people wrote all of the documents, and the previous documents are therefore still relevant to revealing how these people think and their ultimate goals. In practical terms, the User Guide cannot supplant all previous documents. The User Guide does not contain technical information such as the requirements for Animal Identification Number (AIN) tags or the databases. Working under the earlier documents, the USDA has already approved AIN Manufacturers and database managers. USDA also has cooperative agreements in place with state agencies that include specific targets for participation. The User Guide is not written on a blank slate, but is part of an ongoing program.


Is NAIS Mandatory or Voluntary?

Previous versions of the NAIS plan, which were the result of years of work by both industry and the government, clearly provided that NAIS would become mandatory after an initial voluntary period. The target date for 100% participation was set at January 2009. The new User Guide, with its repeated mantra that the program is "voluntary," includes a tacit acknowledgement that the plan for a mandatory program was extremely unpopular.

USDA still claims authority to implement a mandatory federal plan

Despite repeating 29 times in the Guide that NAIS is voluntary at the federal level, USDA takes care to note that: "Under our current authorities, USDA could make the NAIS mandatory, but we are choosing not to do so …." (p.4) In other words, USDA can change NAIS to a mandatory program any time it wants. The same people who tried to make NAIS mandatory for several years now want us to trust that they have changed their minds and that NAIS is, and will remain, a voluntary program -- unless they change their minds again.

USDA and state agencies can force participation in NAIS using current programs

USDA initially planned to implement NAIS as a centralized program at the national level. After grassroots protests, USDA changed its strategy to provide standards and guidance at the national level, with states writing their own laws and regulations to implement NAIS. USDA can thus claim that NAIS is "voluntary at the national level" while simultaneously encouraging and funding mandatory programs at the state level. The User Guide states that the new plan does not change any elements of state plans for NAIS. This allows states to impose mandatory animal identification and premises registration programs. USDA continues to fund these mandatory state programs and has not stated any intention to cease doing so. Indeed, USDA Secretary Johanns has stated that funding mandatory state programs does not conflict with a "voluntary" federal program.

In addition to state programs that make NAIS explicitly mandatory, the User Guide recognizes that participation in NAIS can be coerced without new federal regulations. On page 8, USDA states: "For example, in order for producers to obtain official identification devices, they first need to register for a premises identification number. Accordingly, the success of the premises registration component would be achieved through the participation of producers in longstanding disease management programs and compliance with interstate movement regulations." In other words, the states can force people to register into the federal NAIS database in order to obtain identification devices that they must have under already existing programs.

You may, or may not, have a choice in animal identification

In the User Guide, USDA repeatedly claims that obtaining an animal identification number (AIN) is voluntary. However, USDA fails to say what happens when you buy a cow from someone who is participating in NAIS. Suppose, for instance, you buy a cow from a NAIS participant, so the cow is already marked with an AIN, and entered into a state or private database. Unless they want to remain the registered owner of that cow, the NAIS participating owner will be required to report the sale of the AIN marked cow within 24 hours. The same applies to identified horses, chickens, sheep, etc. So your information will be reported, as the buyer, to the database even if you haven't "volunteered." Further, the Guide states: "Producers who purchase animals and bring them into their operation will maintain the official identification already on the animal." (p.29) If you truly had an option to not participate, the USDA would have used the term "may" instead of the mandatory "will."

The only way we can protect ourselves against a mandatory NAIS is to get Congress to pass a law that states USDA may not implement or fund a mandatory NAIS, whether at the state or Federal level. Federal funding of voluntary state programs, which creates pressure to expand those programs, should also be barred. The law must prohibit USDA and the States from using coercive measures, such as denial of services, to "encourage" participation in NAIS.

What is the Scope of NAIS?

Just who will be affected by the NAIS and under what circumstances?

USDA says "Household pets (e.g., cats and dogs) and animals not listed in the paragraph are not included." The Guide includes: "cattle and bison; poultry; swine; sheep; goats; cervids (e.g., deer and elk); equines (e.g., horses, mules, donkeys, burros) and camelids (e.g., llamas and alpacas)." (p.4) Nevertheless, animal owners should not think that their "pet" horses, pigs, goats, sheep, etc. are safe from being targeted by USDA. If they are on the list of included species, it won't matter that you consider the animal a pet. Moreover, there is nothing to stop USDA from expanding the list of animals in the future.

In earlier plans, USDA indicated that all animal movements off your premises would require you to report such movements to NAIS within 24 hours. The User Guide now provides that "those movements carrying a high risk of disease transmission will be the primary focus of tracing efforts." (p.46) The Guide then repeatedly states that local trail rides and participation in local fairs are not considered to be reportable movements, by USDA. However, this does not block individual States from requiring such reporting. USDA also leaves room for increasing the reporting requirements: "Again, it must be noted that, if certain animal disease issues are present in a given geographical area, the reporting of animal movement becomes more critical and may vary during the period when greater monitoring of the disease is being administered by animal health officials." What will be used to define "local" versus "regional"? When will "greater monitoring" be needed? Nothing stops the program's "focus" from continuously expanding once it is in place. The USDA has failed to provide a valid scientific basis for NAIS, so we cannot expect the expansion of the program will be based on good science.

What are the Costs of NAIS?

NAIS is about money. USDA claims disease control is vital to "…preserve producers' business and economic interests." Nowhere in the new User Guide does USDA even mention protecting the private property rights and privacy rights of American animal owners. The Guide contains nothing to protect the personal commitment of millions of owners to their animals, which the USDA feels free to "depopulate" (in other words, kill) in order to protect the monetary interests of industrial agriculture. Non-monetary interests, which are of critical importance to individuals, are ignored.

Premises registration is free in all States – but it may not remain that way

Technically, the User Guide is correct that premises registration is currently free in all states. However, USDA admits that states "may choose to keep premises registration free or not." (p.26) As one example, the Texas Animal Health Commission proposed charging a fee for mandatory premises registration in order to fund the agency's activities. Bureaucrats can saddle citizens with more taxes, often hidden as fees, however they choose. Nothing is truly free; current premises registration is being funded by a combination of state and federal tax dollars. For example, Michigan State Department of Agriculture has stated that its mandatory RFID tagging of cattle is at "minimal" cost to owners, "as long as federal funding continues." What happens when the federal funding ends? The USDA and state agencies continue to avoid the real issue, which is how much the NAIS program truly costs in its entirety.

The estimated costs for animal identification and tracking are baseless

The Estimated Cost data in the User Guide are totally spurious and greatly underestimated. According to USDA, "horse owners are paying $20 to have a horse implanted with injectable transponders. If the owner has the expertise to implant the transponder him/herself, the cost of the transponder would be a few dollars." Even for those implanting the chips themselves, just the microchip and syringe costs around $18. (www.netposse.com/microchips.htm ) With a vet's assistance, the cost can be anywhere from $35 to $70. Those quotes do not include the cost of hauling the horse to the vet, or paying the barn-visit fee.

USDA also fails to include the costs of RFID readers, computers or other means required for reporting to the NAIS database, and the untold hours of labor involved with tagging animals, record keeping, and reporting. Estimates from the Australian Beef Association place the total cost of tagging at $37 to $40 per animal, on average. Since people who own one or just a few animals usually pay more than large producers, since they can't buy large quantities of the supplies, these averages understate the probable cost for most individuals.

USDA repeatedly says that competition in the market will keep reporting fees down for animal owners. However, the User Guide does not say how these costs will be controlled or minimized. Instead, all we have are the hopes of USDA bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. that NAIS will have only minimal cost impacts on animal owners. Moreover, those entities who stand to profit from running the databases have played key roles in developing the program. Experience with many areas of our economy proves that the bureaucrats' hopes that costs will stay low are not justified, especially when private industry is actively involved in setting government policy.

Finally, USDA admits "…no specific participation cost figures are available at this time." Sign up for NAIS, hold your breath, and wait for the other shoe to drop!


The Alleged Need for, and Benefits from, NAIS

USDA repeatedly claims that NAIS is necessary for animal owners to "receive timely information" of disease threats. (p.2, 17, & 25) NAIS does not include any provisions for establishing exactly how the government would inform those animal owners, however. Obviously, the US Mail is far too slow to be effective. Will NAIS employ a phone bank of people to call everyone in the affected area or use automated email? Since they now claim that NAIS is voluntary, and we know a lot of people will refuse to enroll in NAIS, their database will not contain the names and phone numbers of a large percentage of animal owners in any given area. Even if NAIS were mandatory, experience dictates there will always be some people who refuse to comply with the law, so agency personnel would still have to "drive up and down rural roads" (p.12.) if they wanted direct contact with each individual animal owner. Radio, TV, and newspaper are an effective way of informing animal owners of a disease problem in their area. NAIS is not necessary to tell animal owners when there is a threat of animal disease.

The User Guide repeatedly claims the export market benefits all producers: "To maintain and protect prices for domestic commodities, it is crucial for international markets to stay open." (p.11.) Yet USDA's own statistics show that the U.S. imports 3 to 8 times more beef than it exports. (http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/MeatTrade/Data/AnnualLivestockTable.xls ) While international markets obviously affect prices, the benefits potentially gained from a tracking system to aid in the export of meat are not self-evident and require careful calculation, not vague claims.

These are just specific examples of an overarching problem: the USDA has no idea what it is talking about, when it comes to either the costs or the benefits of NAIS. The User Guide even admits this: "USDA plans to have a cost-benefit analysis conducted that will help us more precisely forecast the potential economic benefits of NAIS." (p.12.) Even though they have spent years and tens of millions of dollars developing NAIS, USDA has NEVER conducted a cost-benefit analysis to see if this thing makes sense, or not.

Just as critical as what USDA says is what it omits. Nowhere does USDA indicate any interest in exploring more cost-effective and less intrusive means of obtaining the same (alleged) benefits. There is never only one way to reach a goal, yet USDA has decided that NAIS is the answer, without scientific support or an analysis of the alternatives.

Conclusion

The preceding only covers some of the issues hidden in the new User Guide. USDA has been less than forthcoming in the way they worded the document. Obviously, they intend to lull us into stopping our protests. To do so would be a major mistake.

Until Congress explicitly limits USDA's authority and provides meaningful oversight, we remain subject to the whims of bureaucrats who have already shown that their concern lies with the industrial agriculture and technology companies, not the vast majority of Americans who own animals.

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Comments by Sharon Zecchinelli

Animal IDs will not be mandatory

The headline isn't the truth. The New Plan, issued on Thanksgiving eve, is a shell game of words.

The New Plan says it is "voluntary at the Federal level" while palming off the responsibility onto the States. The States already took the money, now it's time to pay up. USDA is making the state agencies implement NAIS for them.

Will Wisconsin and Indiana reverse their mandatory premises registration under the New Plan? Will Massachusetts purge the information they illegally procured from veterinarian records? Will Pennsylvania delete information they obtained about Amish farmers, who are against "mark of the beast" on Biblical grounds? Nope, there is no opt-out option built into NAIS.

Last August Steve Kerr said he took premises registration off the table. Why then does the New Plan have the URL to an active online Premises Registration form for Vermont?

NAIS was crafted by USDA, Inc. and National Institute of Animal Agriculture not to protect the National Herd from disease but to profit from global meat export and the sale of RFID tags, scanners, etc. I went to the NIAA's ID Expo in Kansas City where the take home message was this: they mean to tag and track every livestock animal in this country. They are prepared to "drive the dirt roads to do it."

No, the goal of NAIS hasn't changed, just the tactics. NAIS is still going eradicate small/private farms, homesteaders, hobbyists and horse-owning here in Vermont. Can we stand to take that kind of economic hit?

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From Doreen Hannes

Don't be too certain there will be any entry to the Federal Register, or that there will be comments accepted. The
only referrance I saw to comments was near the end of the document and it only actually talked about addressing
comments to the species working groups.

  If it doesn't make the Fed Reg, I can't consider it an official document. Meaning, it is simply a paper they put out, without real authority. Like an op-ed piece.


  The Draft Strategic Plan, Standards Plan, Tech Supplement, and the Implementation Plan of April 06 were all entered into the Federal Register. Those would then be the only official documents along with the AIN specs for cattle, database requirements etc.

 

 NAIS Useless Guide and the Fine Art of Gerrymandering

        
A Primer in Agency law and Federal Monetary Manipulation

by Doreen Hannes  (
animalwaitress@yahoo.com)

The new USDA "User Guide" for NAIS is an attempt by the USDA to deflect criticism and responsibility for the program to the State Departments of Agriculture and to State legislatures.  The definition of gerrymandering is unfair manipulation in a political sense. The USDA does that with real finesse in the User Guide.

The most important thing to understand is the process by which agencies make law or "regulations". As of this writing, the USDA has not followed the procedure necessary for the User Guide to meet requirements of an official document with any real moderating effects on the previous documents.

The User's Guide was not entered into the Federal Register and the previous documents, the Draft Strategic Plan, Standards and Tech Supplement as well as Implementation Plan, have not been withdrawn from the Federal Register. Thus the USDA's opening statement, "The 2006 User Guide is the most current plan for NAIS and replaces all previously published program documents, including the 2005 Draft Strategic Plan and Draft Program Standards and the 2006 Implementation Strategies" is what we in the Midwest call a bald faced lie. Since people are generally kept in the dark about how Federal agency rules and regulations are made, here is an attempt to explain it in its most simplistic form.

First and foremost, the agency must have the authority to enact the rules they are proposing. Then they must enter their proposed rule into the Federal Register serving as public notice of their intent. Typically, there will be a period of time for the public to comment on any proposed rules, and the public's comments are available in the reading room in DC or electronically online. After the public comment period the agency must then enter notice of their final rulemaking regarding the regulation. Then the regulation they
have made will be codified (put into the proper titles and chapters amending existent regulations where
applicable) and entered into the body of law called the "Code of Federal Regulations", or CFR.

To date, the USDA has not followed this procedure on three documents they have released regarding NAIS. Oddly enough, the documents that haven't followed proper procedure are all the documents that supposedly moderate the National Animal Identification System into something slightly less than pure evil. 

The first document that was designed to calm the concerns of the public is "The Guide for Small Scale and Non-Commercial Producers". This document was released in June and was sent to several thousand Missouri residents by Congresswoman JoAnn Emerson to assure them that the NAIS was actually nothing to be concerned about. However, Linda Campbell, the chair of the Goat Species Working Group told me personally that she believed the Guide for Small Scale and Non Commercial Producers was actually written by a PR firm. She was aware that I was both with a small paper and an opponent of the NAIS.  The "Guide for Small Scale and Non Commercial Producers" also fails to allow people who choose not to
participate in the NAIS to engage in established avenues of commerce. In other words, if you don't want to buy or sell any stock, the NAIS will remain voluntary.

The second document the USDA failed to enter into the Federal Register was a slightly amended version of the April '06 Implementation Strategies. In the amended version the USDA deleted one paragraph (headed as "Contingency Plan" in the original document) regarding following the rule making process, should they fail to achieve their benchmark participation goals, including 100% compliance. They also removed the term "meta data" in two sentences and supplanting it with ATPS (Animal Trace Processing System) in one of those sentences. The last change was removing the word February '07 and replacing it
with Spring '07 in a timeline.

The User Guide is the third document to fail to make it's way into the Federal Register. Considering the statement in the document that this is to replace all previous documents and that this is the "comprehensive" document regarding NAIS, it is terrifically inadequate. The User Guide doesn't give info on technology specifics, reporting requirements, incentive particulars, FOIA exemption, liability issues, nor is there any impact analysis. There is an extremely understated cost estimate for the actual identification devices, but no cost estimate for program participation. It's akin to saying the diploma on a vet's office wall is the cost of an education in Veterinary Science. In laymen's terms, it is absolute
bunk. There will more on the User Guide throughout the rest of this article.

The manner in which federal agencies get states to cooperate with their programs is predominately through funding. The funding is carried out through the appropriations bills of both state and federal governments. In the state of Missouri, more than half of the budget is comprised of federal monies for various and sundry programs. Many other states are in similar or even worse positions than Missouri. Sticking with the NAIS and it's implementation, let's look at the mechanisms used to develop the system.

Each state and tribe as well as the territories of the United States Federal Government signed cooperative agreements with the Veterinary Services division of the USDA. These agreements are binding contracts. All of the criteria for a legal and binding contract are met within the cooperative agreements. There is a definitive overview of the purpose, roles and responsibilities of each party are clearly defined and there is an exchange of consideration in the form of federal funds making the state responsible for fulfilling their part of the contract in the specified amount of time the CA covers.  There are numerous
forms to fill out and lots of ancillary agreements contained in the cooperative agreements signed by the states in '05, 06, and the application for '07.

One aspect of the fraudulent practices being employed by not only the USDA, but virtually every Federally Funded program, is attested to by the required acceptance of terms outlined in two forms. The forms referenced as SF-424A and SF-424B must be agreed to in order to get the Federal Funding the states are so accustomed to receiving. These forms cause the applicant to agree to fulfill Executive Orders related to the Environmental Protection Agency and Clean Air and Water and Wild Rivers acts,  which align agencies and states into co-enforcement agreements with no legislative oversight on behalf of elected officials. The Executive Orders are listed only numerically and not topically and people would actually have to chase down information to find out what they are really agreeing to do when they are ostensibly signing on for just one Federal program.

The Cooperative Agreement Announcement for '07 regarding NAIS is a tremendously convicting piece of work. Not only does it contain agreeance to SF-424A and B, it also shows beyond a shadow of a doubt the USDA's continual attempt at lying and deceiving the public regarding their intent with the NAIS program. Just one excerpt from the Cooperative Agreement Announcement for '07, puts the mantra of "voluntary at the federal level" replete in the User Guide, to rest.

On page 16 of the Cooperative Agreement Announcement for '07 regarding the goals and objectives the states are to achieve it states:

"Outline a Plan of Action"
 Provide a brief overview of the work to be performed and how the plan builds on the 2005 or 2006 cooperative agreement plan. Also, explain how this plan will support the timelines for full implementation of  NAIS as outlined in the draft strategic plan.


The User Guide is loaded with references to interstate commerce and induced participation in the program to continue to engage in normal agricultural business activities like buying and selling stock. It is already illegal to remove an official USDA identification device from an animal, so if you should buy a cow with the 15 digit NAIS animal identification number you will automatically be engaged in that program whether you "volunteer" or not. The individual selling the cow is required to report to whom the cow was sold and what date the sale took place. This will enroll you in premise and animal identification regardless of your desire, or lack of desire, to participate in the program.  You can find this juicy little
tidbit on page 38 of the printed version of the User Guide:

   "the animal should have identification attached according to the instructions provided by the manufacturer of the device before leaving its current premises when the movement is reportable (see the section on animal movement). Animals are identified only once, not every time the animal is moved.  The animal identification number(AIN) device is to be maintained on the animal, and the AIN on the device is associated with the animal for the animal's entire life."

 On the very next page is a wonderful example of the truly compulsory force NAIS will be:

  "USDA has no plans to make participation in any component of NAIS mandatory.  However, as mentioned previously, there are existing regulations for certain diseases such as brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) that require identification for interstate movement for some animals and, in some cases, define the devices that can be used.  Under § 71.22, intentional removal of or tampering with official identification devices is prohibited.  Specifically, it is unlawful to remove an official identification device or cause the removal of one unless the animal is terminated, except in cases when a device has become illegible or the device malfunctions."

"A User Guide" shows on page 47 that it is the activity of commerce that the NAIS truly wishes to control by categorizing private sale as a high risk reportable activity. This is where they will get everyone eventually through trickle down NAIS.

It is abundantly clear that NAIS is being shoved upon a strongly opposed public via executive branch fiat and the manipulation of State governments through the use of Federal Funds. This methodology will help the USDA to shift the blame for the draconian program to the States and their agriculture departments or individual state legislatures.

The Cooperative Agreement Announcement for '07 also asks the state agriculture departments how far they have progressed in getting legislation to help legitimize both the existence of the program and the deceitful manner in which they have garnered the number of premises they have registered. Here is an excerpt from page 12 discussing that very point:

USDA will provide funding for:

"The Integration of existing State systems with the SPRS or a CPRS. This "pulling" of data from existing databases that already contain premises related information seems to be a prudent and cost effective method in many cases. States must carefully consider whether this type of data integration to register livestock premises under NAIS would be interpreted as "voluntary" and if this would create any problems for premises registration in the long term."

Yet there is hope. As referenced several times in the original documents of the Draft Strategic Plan there will need to be state level enabling legislation to get the program to work. If the individual states will stand up and preclude participation in the NAIS from their state and allow people to be removed from the database of premise registration when they desire to be removed the system will fall on it's face.

Since the only real need for the system's existence is to fulfill World Trade Organization's Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) agreements, it is entirely possible to allow those who wish to export the opportunity to participate in this type of program, otherwise known as QSA and Export Verification Services, and allow them to pay for the system and reap whatever "premiums" they believe they may earn through their participation. Those who have no desire to sell internationally would then have no need to participate in the program. This would require that the USDA give up their false "disease control" premise and allow people to decide for themselves whether or not they desire to participate in international trade. Of
course, this would also require that multinational corporate agribusinesses actually contract with people who want to deal with them instead of using the government agencies and legislatures as their contract providers.

The States must individually stand for their private citizens and pass legislation that disables or destroys the NAIS. Our representatives must be educated on the program as well its effects on both our liberty and our livelihoods and held to their oaths by those who have put them in office. If we don't have the resolve to inform them of our objections and refusal to allow this to happen in our state or nation, then we don't deserve the freedoms our forefathers died to endow us with.


-Feel free to distribute this, but only in it's entirety and include contact information-
Thank you, Doreen Hannes

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A publication
of the
ENVIRONMENTAL
CONSERVATION
ORGANIZATION

 

 

Today's Freedom.Org News,  updated daily

Now Let`s Try the Back Door

 

There for a minute, it looked like we could breathe a little easier. The United States Dept of Agriculture issued yet another explanation of their National Animal Identification System NAIS). This version, called A User Guide said " It`s all voluntary, no mandatory ID at the federal level."

Well you couldn`t beat that. That`s what we`ve been working for. But the breathing easier didn`t last long. There was yet another shoe to fall. In this case, a whole closet-full.

Evidently, the current administration is realizing that the common animal owners out here in the heartland are not going to accept a mandatory national animal ID system. Secretary of Agriculture Johanns recently said a mandatory ID program would result in "open revolt" among producers. So they must try a different tack, try a back door approach.

So, the current rhetoric has changed from voluntary as a stepping-stone to a mandatory program, to one they say will remain voluntary. They say this paper replaces all previous plans.

BUT!

We`ve discovered that USDA issued another document, the same day their Guide was released. This one is called Cooperative Agreements for Implementation of the NAIS. It is directed to the states, and outlines the procedures to bear down on the task of getting animal owners to register their premises for the NAIS. Fourteen million dollars is going to be distributed among the states ( Missouri is slated to get $570,000.00) to be used to get premises registrations. So, while in one document they stress voluntary participation on the federal level, they are at the same time, saying to the states "sicc'em" and dangling money out there for bait.

Premises registration has not been going as well as USDA had planned, but they helped that along significantly by changing the standards. It seems they discovered they were using the wrong figures as to how many premises exist that need to be registered. In Missouri, they claimed there are 104,000 places to get, and they only had about 10,000 in their web; about 10%. Now they say there are some 78,000 total state-wide,.so they have maybe 13%.

So, for now, the big push from USDA is to get the states to increase their efforts toward premises registration.

Dr. Steve Goff of the MO Dept. of Agriculture told an Iowa newspaper that Missouri " may have the most well organized opposition group" hindering premises registration. "They`re into rights and / or violation of rights". He scoffs that ,"This violates too many of their rights - private property, Constitutional" This is a state employee ridiculing citizens for opposing bureaucratic rulemaking. He also fails to recognize that the opposition he faces is "the people", not a well organized group.

All this makes it more important now, than ever, for each state to prohibit implementation of mandatory animal ID in their state. Each state has to permit it, and USDA aims for them to let it happen. Here in MO, many legislators have already vowed they will stop this at the gate. But Governor Blunt`s Dept. of Agriculture will, no doubt, be out to get this $570,000, regardless of the fact that it all has to be spent to coerce people to join up for NAIS. Some of it can be used for salaries, but almost all has to go for advertising, and whatever else they can use to sell their program.

Without premises registration, NAIS goes nowhere - which is where it`s gotten so far. So the approach has been changed. Tell `em it`s voluntary at the federal level, so they will relax, then push the states to get in there and get `em registered. Then the ID part, and the animal movement part, and the mandatory part, will be added later.

Nothing has changed, except the door they will be trying to come through. We need to help our legislators close that back door approach on the MO Dept of Agriculture, and the USDA.

C Russell Wood is president of the Ozarks Chapter of Property Rights Congress, and has waged a tireless battle against the implementation of madatory National Animal Identification System.

http://www.freedom.org/news/200701/01/wood.phtml