Premises ID required for State and county fairs in Illinois
October 31, 2007 PREMISES ID REQUIREMENT ADOPTED FOR ILLINOIS FAIRS
New rule applies to all livestock exhibitors and takes effect next year
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A premises identification number will be required to exhibit livestock at state, county, 4-H and FFA fairs beginning in 2008, the Illinois Department of Agriculture announced today.
Premises registration is the first step toward the establishment of a National Animal Identification System (NAIS) and will greatly improve the ability of Illinois animal health professionals to contain disease outbreaks.
“Knowing the location of each and every livestock operation in the state would enable us to quickly trace the movement of infected animals, impose quarantines and, perhaps, prevent the disease from spreading to neighboring farms if an outbreak were to occur,” Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke said. “The information is absolutely critical to our disease-fighting capabilities, especially at events like fairs where large numbers of animals are confined for short periods of time and then moved. This is one, reasonable step we can take to protect not only the health of livestock, but also the livelihood of the entire livestock industry.”
Nearly 9,000 Illinois livestock operations already have enrolled in the NAIS, 30 percent of the state’s premises.
“That figure exceeds the USDA’s 2007 target of 25 percent, but full participation will be needed if the system is to achieve its goal of identifying all animals and premises that have been exposed to a disease within 48 hours of its discovery,” Dr. Colleen O’Keefe, division manager of Food Safety and Animal Protection, said.
Registration is free and easy. The entire process, which consists of a short questionnaire that asks for a facility’s name, address, phone number and the types of livestock it raises, takes about ten minutes to complete. The application form is posted on the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s website at www.agr.state.il.us/premiseid. Producers who register online will receive a premises ID number immediately. The application also can be completed and returned by mail, but may take four weeks to process. To obtain a copy of the form, producers should call 1-866-299-9256.
Because the identification number corresponds to the location where an animal is raised, it does not necessarily have to be issued in the exhibitor’s name. The number must be obtained and included on entry forms, however, before fairs will allow an animal to compete.
The premises ID requirement also applies to horses. Owners of horses stabled in Illinois and planning to race or exhibit at either a state or county fair can register online just like Illinois livestock producers can. Owners of out-of-state horses must obtain a premises ID number through their state’s agriculture department, whose contact information can be found online at http://animalid.aphis.usda.gov/nais/premises_id/register.shtml.
Saturday December 01, 2007
Fair makes premise ID mandatory
By NICK BONHAM
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
LAKEWOOD - Exhibitors at the 2008 Colorado State Fair will be required to register the location where the animal was raised with the controversial National Animal Identification System.
The Fair's board of commissioners voted 8-1 to stand by the policy it set forth last year, which drew controversy.
Future Farmers of America and 4-H members will have to register with the NAIS their premise identification or the physical location to show in the Junior Livestock Sale.
The board's decision came here Friday at its monthly meeting, held at the state Department of Agriculture.
The only commissioner to vote against the policy was Raeana Wadhams of Pueblo, who was present via telephone. Of the 10 commissioners on the board, only Loren Whittemore of Wray, who expressed opposition to premise ID at the October meeting in Pueblo, did not attend.
Premise ID was a controversial topic before it came to the State Fair. Last year the Fair voted to make it mandatory because 4-H and FFA groups showed strong support of it and supporters said it is a valuable tool for quick traceability - 24 to 48 hours - in the case of an animal disease outbreak.
Opponents argue that registration is an invasion of privacy and that government agencies were pushing an agenda on youth Ag producers.
"We're not saying it's 4-H and we're going to use those kids or brainwash them," said Commissioner Catherine Ross. "The department of ag has identified (the Fair) as a possible place for disease outbreak."
Two exhibitors were disqualified from the show this year because their premises weren't properly registered. In the end, both individuals were compensated for what their replacement animal sold for.
At the October meeting two opponents of premise ID talked with board members and supplied them with large packets of information. The Fair also received some letters, including one from a group of legislators, opposing the policy.
Here on Friday, after long discussion with state ag officials on the subject, the board voted to stand by its policy and will look at expanding premise ID requirements to all large animals that will be on the Fairgrounds during the 11-day expo.
"Any type of leadership comes with criticism," said John Stulp, state commissioner of agriculture. "I think we did right by the state and the Colorado State Fair in a step to ensure the safety of our livestock industry.
"I offer the opportunity to people who oppose (premise ID) to ask them how do we rapidly respond on a disease outbreak. It's one thing to say that it infringes on someone's rights, but we really need to get to the (center) of it. If there's a better way to protect our livestock industry, we need to do it. Let's look at what the alternatives are."
Those close to the debate said that premise ID registration, which is a voluntary program, will ultimately be driven by the livestock industry.
Jeanne Robinson, livestock coordinator for the Fair, said packing plants in the state are looking at making premise ID required before slaughter.
"They have policies in the making to only accept from county fairs that have premise IDs," she said.
"Premise ID is just one of many tools we need for rapid traceability" Stulp said.
Animals competing at the Fair must have a health certificate or pass a health exam at the Fair.
There are some pitfalls, according to Lindsay Wadhams, horse show coordinator. She said horses are often housed at stables while their owners live elsewhere, but the stable owner does not want their address listed for the animal's ID.
"That would be a rare occasion and if they wanted to show they'd have to find another stable," Stulp said.
Premise ID registration can be done online or on mail-in forms. Board members looked at the mail-in sheets and agreed the information required was minimal and that there were other areas of public record where more information could be found.
"There's no Social Security number, bank account information. They don't even ask for your driver's license," said Fair attorney Steve Smith.
Ag officials said mail-in ID information is kept locked in file cabinets while electronic info is stored in secured databases. They said they're looking further into the security of information.
Aug. 2, 2007
COMMISSIONERS OPPOSE PREMISES ID FOR 4-H KIDS
Members of County Fair Board Say CSU Plan Is Unfair
The county commissioners donâ€™t like the mandate requiring Coloradoâ€™s 4-H and FFA youth to obtain premises identification in order to show their animals at county and state fairs.
During their regular meeting on Tuesday, July 31, Suzie Coleman, Rhoda Reid and Jack Canterbury of the local fair board asked the commissioners to consider signing a resolution opposing mandatory premises ID for 4-H and FFA youth.
In short, premises ID registration lists the name and address of the ranch where the animal is being raised, and the ranch owner.
Beginning in October, cooperative extension officials with Colorado State University will require all Colorado 4-H and FFA youth to have a premises identification.
Premises identification is the first step toward a national animal identificationÂ Â system being considered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for livestock, in order to trace and track the livestock to protect against disease.
So far, premises identification registration is voluntary for state ranchers, however, CSU officials have decided to make it compulsory for 4-H and FFA participants.
"If it's voluntary for ranchers, it should be voluntary for our youth," said Canterbury.
Canterbury further noted many local 4-H and FFA youth have indicated they will no longer participate in the fair due to the new regulations.
Commissioner Dick Downey indicated he opposed any regulation that kept youth from participating in the fair.
As a result, Downey made a motion to draft a resolution opposing mandatory premises identification registration for 4-H and FFA youth. "I'm not coming out against premises identification and the national animal identification system," said Downey, "just making it mandatory for 4-H and FFA kids because it will cause kids to drop out of the program."
"Especially since it is voluntary for everybody else," said commissioner Kit Shy.
Commissioner Carole Custer seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.
Next, the commissioners were asked to consider supporting an open division county fair only if CSU continues to require premises ID for 4-H and FFA youth.
The general consensus of the commissioners was the fair board needs to present a detailed proposal outlining how such a fair would be conducted before they could make a decision.
If you are in Colorado, now is the time to contact your representatives to let them know you oppose NAIS in all of it’s forms, mandatory as well as pseudo-voluntary. You can also leave comments on the article at the link above. Keep it polite but let them know what you think.
Greg Niewendorp is putting everything on the line for the freedom and rights of all of us. Let us not fail him.
Non-Compliance Relief Fund
Taking a stand of non-compliance puts a tremendous toll on one’s resources. The National Organization for Raw Materials (NORM) established the Non-Compliance Relief Fund to provide specific support for those like Greg NIewendorp who take such a courageous position. To support Greg and others like him, please donate here or send a check made out to Non-Compliance Relief Fund to:
Non-Compliance Relief Fund
Greg Niewendorp was a passing blip on the TV news last week, but it’s a blip that will likely balloon. Niewendorp has started a needed conversation about the industrialization of our food supply, and the liberties of people—both farmers and consumers—who don’t want to be part of it.
Last week, in an act of civil disobedience, Niewendorp forced the Michigan Department of Agriculture to obtain a search warrant before coming onto his farm to put radio frequency ID chips on his cattle and to test his cattle for bovine tuberculosis.
SHERIFF RIDES INTO COW TOWN
The scene was peaceful. Charlevoix County Sheriff George Lasater read the search warrant while Niewendorp and 10 supporters stood and listened on an unusually hot fall morning. Niewendorp’s supporters, including one woman who worked on a TB project in Nepal years ago, peppered the key state official, Bridget Patrick, with questions about the $10 million bovine TB eradication program. After about 30 minutes of this, the two techs and the state veterinarian hiked the hills of 160 acres of pastureland to find, catch, and do the skin test on the cattle. It took them the entire day.
Niewendorp lives in the middle of a very quiet nowhere in East Jordan, raising about 20 herd of dairy and beef cattle and one hog. He rotates his cows on 40 different pastures, riding his horse and using a herd dog. In winter, the cows eat hay. Like a lot of small-scale farmers, he slaughters the cows himself and “gives” to friends and family.
His homestead is reminiscent of the kids’ tale of Old MacDonald’s farm - and starkly contrasts with the Kansas feedlots of 38,000 head of confined cattle. It wasn’t lost on anyone standing at Niewendorp’s farm that the nation just suffered its second largest recall of meat in history—more than 21 million pounds of frozen hamburger patties suspected of E. coli bacteria contamination —a byproduct of feedlot cows forced to stand in their own manure for months on end.
Niewendorp’s own farm began as a political rebirth. A fifth generation farmer, Niewendorp, 54, grew up on an Iowa farm and saw his father play by the rules in the 1960s, employing “modern management techniques.” His dad amped up his beef herd and each year, confined the animals, and tried to “manage” the pools of liquid manure, which created a penetrating stench on the farm. But “bigger” meant broker, and the family farm went belly-up.
There is no stench on Niewendorp’s farm because the cattle are not confined. Niewendorp said the factory farm system heightens the risk of disease, which has led to the birth of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). Its goal is to track every animal from birth to death, and all the movements in between, with the radio frequency IDs that look like white buttons. Supporters say that tagging animals with a 15-digit ID will make the food supply safer. The USDA aims to register all meat producers by January of 2009.
The idea of the NAIS—voluntary in most states—is to quickly identify the source of an infected animal and to protect citizens from terrorists who contaminate the food supply. Farmers will have to log in every “event” of an animal’s life, such as going to a fair, trucking them to another farm, or participating in a rodeo. Not just cattle, but also pet ponies, 4-H animals, and backyard chickens (not fish, though). Scanners at the slaughter house read the chips, much like a grocery store wand reads the price of milk.
Niewendorp said small farmers can scarcely afford the burden of logging and reporting every event of every animal’s life.
The state switched to the RFIDs in March, but was already tracking cattle with metal tags. Niewendorp believes they are using the bovine TB issue as a guise to comply with the NAIS, although state officials say it’s simply quicker, with less room for error.
“These tags make me part of the system, and I have never agreed to that,” he said.
David Gumpert, a writer for Businessweek.com with the blog, thecompletepatient.com, has followed Niewendorp’s story since last winter. He calls his actions “a rebellion of the factory food system.”
“This all ties into nutritional freedom and the growing resentment and suspicion of our country’s whole food supply. A bigger issue than NAIS and raw milk and bovine TB is the integrity of the food system. What you’re seeing is the reaction of increasing numbers of people buying local. What Greg really does is sell directly to local consumers. Unfortunately, the state’s view will take away the individual’s right to self-police, and to knowingly buy meat from cattle that hasn’t been tested for bovine TB or injected with antibiotics or hormones, precisely because that meat is clean.”
On the other side of this issue is Bridget Patrick, the bovine TB eradication project coordinator from the Michigan Department of Community Health and liaison MDA.
She believes that Niewendorp has a right to his opinion, but says it’s a straightforward issue: the state simply wants to protect the public from the risk of contracting bovine tuberculosis, and to stop its spread from wild deer herds to domestic cattle. The test is free, she said, and Niewendorp owes his customers the assurance of safe meat. (As a note, all commercial cattle have been federally inspected for TB at slaughter facilities since 1959; no one, to Patrick’s knowledge, has been sickened by eating a TB cow.)
“The thing is, we have to test for TB because it is in the deer herds, and if we don’t find it in the cattle, it can go from cattle to healthy deer. So although this person doesn’t want to participate in the testing program, he’s jeopardizing the cattle farms and the deer herd,” Patrick said.
There’s a real fear that bovine TB has spread from the northeast part of the state to Antrim and Emmet counties. Yet the devil is in the details. One wild deer tested positive in 1999 in Antrim County. Neither cattle nor deer have tested positive in Charlevoix County where Niewendorp lives. Two cattle tested positive in neighboring Emmet County, but that was five years ago. Two cattle tested positive in farms somewhat near Niewendorp’s farm, but were imported from different parts of the state. The only animal to definitively contract TB in the area was a dairy cow, which tested positive in May of 2006, but it was 15 miles from Niewendorp’s ranch (the range of a wild deer is seven miles). Extensive testing of wild deer turned up nothing.
When pressed at last week’s event, Patrick said this: “If we don’t test, our farmers would lose their ability to market their cattle. It would impact the entire country.”
And her point is valid. The USDA can impose heavy consequences on Michigan farmers if the state does not meet its testing requirements. Since Michigan lost its TB-free status, farmers have sold meat as usual, but Wisconsin farmers stopped buying the state’s live cattle.
Since testing began a decade ago, the numbers of one or more cows testing positive in a herd have dropped from a high of eight herd in 2001 to four last year. Only one cow tested positive this year so far.
Wild deer tell a different story. It peaked at 78 in 1998, with numbers bouncing generally down. A total of 41 deer tested positive in 2006, about twice the number of 2005, and they continue to heavily cluster in the Alpena area, home to exclusive hunt clubs of the rich and powerful (see sidebar).
ONE COW, TRIPLE THE HASSLE
If a single cow is diagnosed with TB, the entire herd is “depopulated” as Patrick would say. The reasoning: the bacterium is very slow growing. Infected cows might test negatively, yet spread it to deer who are nuzzling them through the fence. Producers receive fair-market value, the testing is TB free, so Patrick is wondering why Niewendorp is complaining.
Patrick’s words sound soothing. But Niewendorp’s act of civil disobedience has prompted farmers to speak up.
There is Doug Kirkpatrick, a farmer outside of Alpena, who had his 50 cattle and 10 pigs “depopulated” after a single cow was diagnosed with TB. The herd was condemned a year ago, but the USDA took months to remove. Kirkpatrick told the Petoskey News Review that he spent $6,000 to feed animals considered already dead. The state also killed 231 cattle owned by Kendall Sumerix of Alpena because a cow he bought from Montana tested positive. The MDA went even further and destroyed another 26 cattle of his brother-in-law, Kim Sumerix, in June of 2006. Why?
“Because we bought 13 of the Montana cows from Kendall two and a half years before they ever found the reactor cow in Kendall’s herd,” said Neva Sumerix, who is married to Kim. “But our cattle never tested positive. We were blown away. They told us we had to destroy any relation to his cow because of the possibility of exposure. There was also an issue of what to do with the 13 calves, but my husband and I both work full-time and we didn’t have the time to bottle feed the calves, so we said, take them too. We tried to get along. If we didn’t, our herd would have been quarantined and we wouldn’t have been able to sell our cattle to make payments on the farm. It doesn’t make any sense.”
The MDA says it gives market value for the cows that are ”depopulated,” but Sumerix said she had to pay more money for the 11 new cattle than the total she received for the 26 killed. The farmer can’t restock the farm until the last exposed cow leaves the premises, and then it’s another several months to disinfect the farm. That’s time the farmer loses to make money.
Kim Korthase, who lives 10 miles from Niewendorp, said after a steer tested positive, it took “months and months” for the USDA to remove the 259 cattle.
“They found one deer in Antrim County in 1999. Are we going to kill everything for one deer? They have to treat each area for the actual risk. I say, get rid of the deer in the (Alpena area) and let the deer herd come back healthy.”
Whole herd testing began in Charlevoix County after the MDA declared Antrim County as a “high risk” area in a July 2003 memo. Niewendorp went along and allowed his herd to be tested for TB, but he began researching the disease, believing there was a better way. He discovered that bovine TB bacteria thrives in high-acid, high-iron soil that’s common in Northern Michigan. The iron percolates into the water and into grass and herbs, which are eaten by deer and cattle. With high iron levels, the deer and cattle are more susceptible to the invasion of bovine TB. Bait piles also throw off the deers’ natural diet and drive up iron levels. Medical studies show that TB bacteria thrives when a host has high iron supplies. Niewendorp gives his own herd calcium-enriched water, which helps keep iron levels normal for very little money.
He also came across a 1997 Michigan State University study of M. paratuberculosis, in which Michigan farmers were asked to apply lime to pastures as a protective measure. This particular bacteria causes Johne’s Disease. It is a mycobacterium, the same as bovine TB, but not a strain of bovine tuberculosis. In that study, researchers saw a ten-fold reduction in odds of herd infection in pastures applied with lime.
Dr. John Kaneene, a study author and an MSU professor of epidemiology, said he believes it would be a good idea to conduct a similar study with the bovine TB bacterium. One reason is that three Michigan farms found with infected cattle were re-infected, despite attempts to disinfect the grounds.
“The question is, why? Obviously there are many, many reasons. Maybe the farmers don’t do what we recommend—disinfecting and cleaning their farm before bringing in new animals. But the one key question is, are we destroying the organism from the environment from the farm.”
After hearing of Niewendorp’s approach of reducing iron levels of the cattle with calcium supplements, Kaneene agreed that it might serve as an experimental approach. The only caveat was getting permission to expose healthy animals with a dangerous bacteria.
Along the way, Niewendorp has collected an odd mix of bedfellows—organic food activists such as author Stephanie Mills; stay-off-my-land property rights activists in Antrim and Charlevoix counties; and Amish farmers who feel the same way as Niewendorp about getting their animals tagged. The Amish oppose the tags because of a prophesy in the Bible’s Book of Revelation, which says the “beast” forced everyone to “receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark.” In this case, the computer that scans the ear tags would be the beast.
Niewendorp also had long talks with Ted Beals, a pathologist who taught at the University of Michigan Medical School for 31 years. Beals’ own research showed that it is extremely rare for a person to contract bovine TB in this country with current safeguards (although some elderly may harbor the bacteria from earlier days).
In fact, since the big TB scare ten years ago, the MDA has identified only two people with the specific strain of bovine TB. One was a hunter who was dressing a deer in Alpena County. He cut into a TB nodule and the bacteria seeped into a cut in his hand. The cut was badly infected and it took nine months to heal with the help of antibiotics, Patrick said.
The other was an elderly man, who died of other causes shortly after the bacteria was discovered in a medical workup. No one knows how and when he got TB.
The chances of contracting bovine TB by eating meat is so remarkably low, it’s almost impossible, Beals said.
“The animal would have to be very, very sick, and you’d have to eat an infected part of that animal. If the animal had active TB, it would be very obvious to the farmer it was very sick. It’s unlikely that the animal would get past an inspector, and if it did, you’d have to eat the part of the animal that’s actively infected (the lungs, stomach or lymph nodes), and that’s even less likely.”
How about drinking milk from a TB cow?
Possible, but again, highly unlikely. “I am unaware of any documented cases in which a human became infected with bovine tuberculosis by drinking milk that contained the bacteria. It may be technically possible for the bacteria to be present in milk (in those countries with lots of infected and sick cows) and technically possible for a human to drink that milk and have bovine tuberculosis in the intestine, but I do not believe that it has ever been documented. And that is not even conceivable in a country were bovine tuberculosis is seen only rarely in cows, and sick cows are not being milked,” Beals said.
The bovine TB eradication program in 1996 cost several hundred thousand dollars. Now it tops $10 million.
Niewendorp said that one reason he refused testing last year, and again this year, was that the program is an “extravagant waste of money.” A state law says testing must stop if there’s no positive finding within three years in a “high risk” area (Patrick said Charlevoix County is not “high risk”). He contends that the state has not refined or pared down the program and that’s because it would lose $5 million in federal matching grants.
Meanwhile, many hunters are still using bait piles because it hasn’t affected them. Only one deer has actually been found dead of TB, perhaps because critters eat the weak and infected deer, or the deer are shot before getting sick. Whatever the reason, herd numbers are steady.
Beals supports common sense herd management, but said that testing Niewendorp’s herd is unreasonable.
“He is a very good farmer and he knows his animals very well, unlike some situations. There are some big factory farms, where the actual owner may never see the animals. He’s not like that. He knows their health. If any are sick, he knows about it. They are his equity. He’s extraordinarily careful when milking his animals to avoid contamination.”
But wouldn’t examination on a farm-by-farm basis be too difficult?
“The inspectors do know Greg personally and they know all the farmers personally – I don’t buy that argument. You need to do something wrong before you’re arrested or issued a ticket. We expect from our civil servants a fairly high degree of judgment.
Author Stephanie Mills agreed that the state must act in a measured way or risk bankrupting small farmers.
“I must tell you that having consumed beef and milk and cream from Greg’s animals, I discovered what those things really taste like. I did so knowingly. We weigh the risks of the vanishingly small possibility of getting TB from these grass-fed critters against the risks of getting something worse from poorly inspected slaughterhouse beef that’s been re-reddened by exposure to carbon monoxide to keep it salable on the shelf, or encountering hormones in milk that’s come from scores of big dairies to be processed and mixed. I can imagine there being small farmers who are real slobs and who try to get away with shabby practices and sick herds, and I wouldn’t knowingly trade with them. But I know Greg and I know his standards.”
So how did the TB skin tests come out? Two of Niewendorp’s young calves tested positive, meaning they could have avian TB, which is harmless to cattle, or bovine TB. It also could be a false positive. A blood test will provide answers on Tuesday. Stay tuned.
Posted on Tue, Aug. 28, 2007
Farmers should have say in changing livestock ID rules
By Frank McAninch
On Wednesday, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture will hold a hearing to discuss revisions to Kentucky livestock regulations. The hearing will be open to the public, but few Kentuckians have heard about it.
The new regulations were first filed on Dec. 15, but were withdrawn after farm organizations and livestock commodity groups had objections to the proposed changes. The state veterinarian's office filed the regulations again last month.
The changes incorporate language from U.S. Department of Agriculture's proposed National Animal Identification System into Kentucky's regulations surrounding entry, movement and sale or exhibition of all livestock in Kentucky.
The state agriculture department is under pressure from federal officials to lay the foundation for the National Animal Identification System. This program is backed with $33 million in the 2007 fiscal year.
According to the "USDA National Animal Identification System, A User's Guide," published in November, Phase 1 requires all livestock owners to register their premises with GPS coordinates and an identification number. Phase 2 requires animals to receive identification numbers and radio frequency ID tags. Phase 3 requires livestock owners to track each animal and file a report within 24 hours of any event: deaths, births and movements on or off the premises.
The system's stated purpose is to provide 48-hour trace back for livestock disease outbreak. But the final system will burden Kentucky livestock owners with financial costs and bureaucratic red tape creating an unfair disadvantage to the small livestock producer.
In Kentucky, we already have systems in place for disease prevention and animal health. These programs are disease specific and have been successful in eradicating animal disease, such as the brucellosis program for cattle, in our state. This means we have no need for this new, redundant umbrella program.
Furthermore, there is no need for premise identification numbers when each farm in Kentucky already has a Farm Service Agency number. We do not need to create an additional bureaucracy.
The cost to the Kentucky farmer is a substantial issue. State agriculture officials have not disclosed what the cost will be to their agency or others, nor to the small, family-sized producer. It is certain that farmers can expect to be burdened with the purchase and maintenance of radio frequency ID tags and numbers as well as the reporting aspect, which has not yet been addressed by state or federal agriculture official
According to U.S. Agriculture Department, because the system "is being developed as an industry-government partnership, it is expected that industry and government will share the cost of the necessary elements ... It is difficult to quantify the cost of a fully operational system."
State agriculture extension offices are under pressure to reach 100 percent premise registration by the federal deadline of January 2009. The Community Farm Alliance is sure Phase 2 and 3 will follow shortly after.
This program surpasses the state veterinarian's mission to protect animal health because it tramples the rights of livestock owners and ignores the reality of thousands of small-scale livestock producers.
The Kentucky Agriculture Department's Web site states: "Premise Identification is the first step in the National Animal Identification System, a vital tool in America's efforts to protect its livestock. Click here to register online."
The state veterinarian's Web site also says, "The first step in implementing a national animal identification system (NAIS) is identifying and registering premises that are associated with the animal agriculture industry. ... Kentucky has registered approximately 12,000 of the 61,000 premises in Kentucky."
Yet, the state vet's office denies that these regulations are bringing the identification system to Kentucky.
Farmers should speak out. Call the state veterinarian's office at (502) 564-3956. Attend the public hearing at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the state agriculture department office in Frankfort.
Frank McAninch of Liberty is a beef and tobacco producer and a member of the Community Farm Alliance.
January 13, 2007
Kentucky is pushing through regulations [1, 2, 3] for mandatory animal identification for all movement, sales and showing of livestock and poultry. If you are in Kentucky, now is the time for you to contact your representatives and let them know that you do not want Premises ID registration, animal ID or animal tracking - the three components of the USDA’s National Animal Identification System (NAIS). Protect your rights to farm now!
Sept. 24, 2007
Stockgrowers elect directors, set policy at Rapid City convention
By Journal staff
The South Dakota Stockgrowers Association honored four brand inspectors, elected new directors and approved several policy resolutions during its annual convention, held Sept. 6 and 7 in Rapid City.
The Stockgrowers Association administers the state's brand-inspection program and honored brand inspectors Melvin Anderson, Spearfish; Tucker Hudson, Howes; Tony Holt, Ralph; and Doug Pederson, Winner.
The association elected new directors Randy Volmer of Wasta, District 3; Gary Deering, Hereford, District 8; and Craig Shaver, Sturgis, District 8. Each will serve a five-year term.
Members elected Larry Nelson of Buffalo to serve as president and Kenny Fox, Belvidere, as vice president, both for a two-year term.
Members also approved new policy resolutions during the convention.
* The Wildlife Committee resolution requested a large-predator management plan for the protection of domestic livestock.
* Three resolutions from the Animal Identification Committee were passed, including one that information collected under the National Animal Identification System be considered intellectual property; one supporting a National Bio-Defense Agro-Defense Facility to be built out of proximity of farms and ranches, and one opposing government action funding or mandating premise registration and participation in an animal ID system.
* The Federal Lands Committee resolution supports Alternative Three of the National Grasslands Plan Amendment for prairie dog control.
* The Education, Taxation and Legislation Committee resolution opposes certain areas being considered for the United Nations World Heritage sites because of a loss of U.S. and state sovereignty.
* The Marketing Committee resolutions oppose passage of the Horse Slaughter Prevention Act and support several checkoff changes, including a producer referendum, and using checkoff money to promote U.S. and South Dakota born, raised and slaughtered beef products.
Rapid City - South Dakota Stockgrowers Association (SDSGA) President Rick Rox, Hermosa, S.D. testified before members of the House Agriculure Committee to encourage them to use the 2007 Farm Bill as a means of building competitive market opportunities, not increasing dependence on ag subsidies...
...Fox went on to say THE SDSGA URGES IMMEDIATE ABANDONMENT OF THE NATIONAL ANIMAL IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM (NAIS). "THERE ARE NUMEROUS TRACKING SYSTEMS ALREADY IN PLACE ACROSS THE COUNTRY, INCLUDING BRAND INSPECTION PROGRAMS IN WESTERN STATES. TO FORCE A MANDATORY ANIMAL IDENTIFICATION PROGRAM ONTO PRODUCERS COULD BE A SEVERE INFRINGEMENT OF CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS, PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS, AND WOULD BURDEN THE U.S. CATTLE INDUSTRY WITH UNJUSTIFIED EXPENSE, CREATING A MORE SEVERE IMBALANCE IN COST OF PRODUCTION AS WE ATTEMPT TO COMPETE IN THE GLOBAL MARKETPLACE WITH OTHER BEEF PRODUCING NATIONS." HE ADDED, "COSTLY AND BURDENSOME TAGGING REQUIREMENTS WILL NOT STOP FOREIGN DISEASE. STRICTER BORDER PATROLS AND INSPECTIONS WILL STOP THE IMPORTATION OF FOREIGN DISEASE. IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NAIS IS, IN EFFECT, A WEAKENING OF OUR TRADE LAWS. RATHER THAN ADHERING TO OUR TIME-TESTED AND PROVEN POLICY OF PREVENTING DISEASE BY DISALLOWING IMPORTATION OF BEEF FROM OTHER COUNTRIES WITH CERTAIN DISEASES, USDA WOULD RATHER TRY TO MANAGE DISEASE AFTER IT IS INTRODUCED. THIS IS UNFAIR TO AMERICA'S FOOD PRODUCERS AND EVEN MORE UNFAIR TO AMERICA'S CONSUMERS."
NO 2007 COOPERATIVE AGREEMENT IN VERMONT!
Here’s the news! Vermont did not apply for the FY 2007 CA*, so NAIS and premises registration is dead in Vermont. I spoke with our state vet today (Dr. Kerry Rood) and he gave me the news. When I asked him where that leaves Vermont he said, “There is a voluntary program at the Federal level.”
I do not believe for a second that this is all over in Vermont but I do believe that we have a huge advantage now. New Ag secretary and under secretary coming in, no funds from the Feds for at least a year, though I bet they won’t be able to apply for FY 2008 money either because they will be so far behind in the benchmarks, all that would leave me to think their only hope would be to get legislation passed.
What a good Christmas present!
*CA is a Cooperative Agreement with the USDA whereby the states agree to do certain dirty deeds in exchange for cash. This is how the federal government has previously forced state speed limits, seat belt laws, “No Child Left Behind” and other ‘funding initiatives’ on states. Also see: blackmail, bribery, extortion, racketeering and incest.
November 21, 2007
You will recall that in summer 2006 the Massachusetts Dept of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) started uploading animal owner info from the state’s annual ag survey to the USDA premises database, all without any prior notification to the animal owners. Due to public outcry, MDAR stopped doing these uploads by late Aug. 2006.
Now MDAR has resumed essentially the same program, with a minor modification — MDAR sends the attached letter to the animal owners and gives them 45 or perhaps 30 days (note that the last few sentences of the letter give those 2 conflicting time periods) to “opt out,” otherwise MDAR sends their info in to the USDA database & the animal owners are assigned premises IDs. Also, note that the letter is dated Oct 30, 2007, but some MA animal owners report that by the time they receive the letter, they have only a few days to “opt out.”
Ben Grosscup & Jack Kittredge at NOFA Mass apparently just learned of this a day or so ago. I learned of it today when a NY resident forwarded the MDAR letter to me. Ben reports that MDAR has apparently sent this letter to all Mass residents who are identified as animal owners by the Mass annual animal census.
For anyone who wants to know more about the work we are doing here in MA, visit www.smallholdersalliance.com
August 19, 2006
“Hey, mister, is that chicken house unregistered?!? Slap him in irons, fine him $25,000 and stick him in the clink for 5 years with a felony charge!”
Is owning an unregistered chicken as bad as drunk driving? As bad as dope dealing? As bad as grand auto theft? As bad as bilking investors with phony energy deals? As bad as swindling the government in military contracts? As bad as manslaughter? That’s what the Pennsylvannia legislators have declared for failure to comply with their new Premises ID Registrations under PA House Bill 865.
Senate Bill 865 (Madigan) would amend Title 3 (Agriculture), by establishing a domestic animal premises registration program to be administered and enforced by the Department of Agriculture. The bill would require any person who keeps livestock in the Commonwealth to register with the department. … The information would be kept confidential and could not be disclosed unless authorized by the registrant or unless the release is necessary to prevent or control disease or to protect animal or public health, safety or welfare. Registration would be required for the domestic animals listed in the bill or the carcass of any animal listed in the bill. (A National Animal Identification System (NAIS) is being developed by the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. An animal identification system will become mandatory by January 2009 with a goal of a 48-hour trace back on individual animals to a specific location.) Passed: 48-1.
-PA Senate GOP Session Notes
Something stinks - They’re making criminals out of honest people. The war on drugs was one thing but now we have a war on farmers?!? 1984 meets Animal Farm. Egads!
The legislature has conviently waved the Freedom of Information Act on this little goodie so if they screw up your data you have no way of getting that information corrected since you can’t even find out what they have about you in their database.
(d) Right-to-Know Law inapplicable.--All information received and records made or kept by the department that are related to the administration or enforcement of the program established under this subchapter are exempt from the act of June 21, 1957 (P.L.390, No.212), referred to as the Right-to-Know Law.
Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.
-Hugo Black, Supreme Court Justice
More over they can get your dogs, cats and other pets under this subsection:
The department may issue a temporary order adding domestic animal species to the list of animals in section 2320.2(a)
But here’s the loop hole:
(2) Any vehicle or vessel used in transporting by land, air or water a domestic animal or domestic animal product is exempt from registration under subsection (a).
Just put wheels on your chicken coop and move the animals around periodically. Heck, that sounds like many pastured poultry hoop houses! Perhaps we can do the same for cows, pigs, etc. Or since they’ll take vessels maybe you can just build an Ark instead of a barn?!? With a loop hole so big that you can drive a pair of bison through it you have to wonder if the people who are writing these laws actually ever farmed - perhaps they’re just desk jockeys who play SimFarm on their computer Monday nights. Time to get these guys out of their sterile white offices and into the real world mud! Write a letter to your legislators offering to let them clean your pig stye!
Okay, so it isn’t a felony but still this whole thing is absurd. Here’s the actual penalty section from HB 865:
(d) Failure to register.--A person subject to subsection (a) that fails to register shall not be eligible for any indemnity payment, depopulation incentive payment, cleanup cost payment or disposal cost payment under section 2331 (relating to indemnification) for any livestock for which the indemnity would be paid.
Perhaps small farmers, pet owners and homesteaders can safely ignore the PA Department of Agriculture if all they’re going to do for enforcement is take away farm subsidies. After all, we don’t get farm subsidies! Those all go to the big corporate farms. As to “indemnity payments and depopulation incentive payments” you can forget those whether if you register or not. In April Dr. Wiemer pointed out the government will not be offering compensation or indemnity for depopulation. Net result, there appears to be nothing in this law for the small livestock owner nor does there appear to be any actual enforcement against us. If you can read any other penalty into this, let me know. It looks pretty toothless. If I were in PA I would refuse to register and make a big stink about stupid government laws.
By the by, you’ll notice that the PA Department of Agriculture believes that the USDA’s NAIS will become mandatory in 2009. So much for the USDA’s statement that NAIS is voluntary. Guess the government’s left mouth doesn’t know what it’s right mouth is saying.
Meanwhile, in other PA news:
HB 835 This legislation would require that all individuals convicted or adjudicated delinquent for any felony offense must submit a DNA sample to the Pa. State Police DNA database upon entering or being released from a correctional institution. This includes anyone who was incarcerated prior to the effective date of this act. Sen. Thompson offered A5359 and it was adopted 21-1. The bill was reported out 22-0.
If they do make failure to register your premises into a felony I guess we’ll be seeing a lot of farmers and homesteaders swelling the ranks of the DNA database. I can just hear the pol’s thinking: Pesky lot - this will keep them in check!
Remember: It was a bunch of pissed farmers who beat off King George over 200 years ago and founded our great nation. Perhaps the lesson needs repeating.http://www.nonais.org/
Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania
Ordinance No. 2006-
Note: This municipal Ordinance has been prepared by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a nonprofit law firm located in Pennsylvania. This Ordinance has been prepared as a “model” Ordinance for jurisdictions that wish to nullify animal identification and premises registration laws. The Legal Defense Fund can be reached at (717) 709-0457 or at info@...
AN ORDINANCE OF LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, WESTMORELAND COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, VINDICATING PEOPLE’S BILL OF RIGHTS’ AND PENNSYLVANIA CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS, AND PROTECTING FARM PRIVACY AND PROFITABILITY BY NULLIFYING ALL MANDATED FEDERAL AND STATE LIVESTOCK TRACKING AND PREMISES IDENTIFICATION LAWS AND REGULATIONS
Section 1. Name. The name of this Ordinance shall be the “Liberty Township Farm Privacy and Profitability Ordinance.”
Section 2. Authority. This Ordinance is adopted and enacted pursuant to the authority granted to the Township by all relevant state and federal laws including, but not limited to the following:
§ The Declaration of Independence, which declares that governments are instituted to secure people’s rights, and that government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed;
§ The Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution, including the First Amendment’s guarantee of the free exercise of religion and free speech, the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures, the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process, the Thirteenth Amendment’s prohibition of involuntary servitude, and the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantees of due process and equal protection of the laws;
§ The Pennsylvania Constitution, Article 1, §2, which declares that “all power is inherent in the people and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness”;
§ The provisions of the Second Class Township Code Article XV, as codified in 53 P.S.
§ 66501 et seq. that provide for the protection and preservation of the natural resources and human resources, and for the promotion, protection, and facilitation of public health, safety, and welfare;
§ The provisions of the Second Class Township Code, Article XVI, as codified in 53 P.S. § 66601 et seq. that authorizes the Township to enact ordinances dealing with the protection of the township residents’ health, nuisances, and promotion of public safety.
Section 3. Purpose – Fundamental and Inalienable Rights. The purpose of this Ordinance is to defend and protect the right of the people of Liberty Township to Bill of Rights’ constitutional protections, farm privacy, and their right to earn a living from farming. In support of those goals, the Board of Supervisors of Liberty Township declares that the people of the Township are born equally free and independent, and possess certain inalienable and fundamental rights, among which are those of enjoying life and liberty, pursuing happiness, and participating in democratic self-governance. People establish governments to secure and protect those rights, and governments are just which derive their powers from the consent of the governed. Therefore, the Board of Supervisors declares that any and all actions taken by governments that deny the people’s inalienable and fundamental rights, either individually or collectively, are illegitimate, unauthorized, and void.
Section 4. Purpose – Animal Tracking and Premises Identification. The Board of Supervisors of Liberty Township recognizes that the United States Department of Agriculture has adopted a National Animal Identification System (NAIS) that was created by agribusiness corporations and their trade associations. That System will require mandatory farm registration and animal identification by January of 2008. Under that System, premises identification will require the registration of homes keyed to global positioning systems, and those registrations will be maintained in a federal database using a seven digit premises identification number. Animal identification will require a tag or microchip which will contain a radio frequency identification device, and may also require a collection of genetic material and/or a retinal scan of every registered animal.
Section 5. Purpose – Impact of Animal Tracking and Premises Identification. It is the belief of the Board of Supervisors that a mandatory animal tracking and premises identification system will (1) impose costs for registration on small farmers that threaten margins of farm profitability, (2) require owners of even one animal to register their home and animals into the federal database, (3) require owners of animals to report the birthdate of all of their animals, report times that the animals leave or enter the property, report the loss or replacement of an animal tag, and report the death of the animal – all within twenty-four hours of those events, (4) require veterinarians to report animal owners who have not complied with the animal tracking system to the United States Department of Agriculture, with enforcement carried out by that agency, and (5) enable the federal government to seize privately owned farm animals without due process or other constitutional protections. It is the belief of the Board of Supervisors that governmental animal tracking and premises identification therefore violates the Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, and First Amendment federal constitutional rights of the people of Liberty Township, and violates rights secured under Article I of the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Section 6. Definitions. As used throughout this Ordinance, the following words and phrases shall have the following meanings:
“Corporation” – any corporation organized under the laws of any state of the United States or any country.
“Families” – natural persons related to one another within the fourth degree of kinship according to civil law, or their spouses.
“Family farm corporations” - corporations or syndicates engaged in farming or the ownership of agricultural land, in which seventy-five percent (75%) of the partnership interests, shares, stock, or other ownership interests are held by members of a family or a trust created for the benefit of a member of that family.
“Independent family farm operation” – agricultural operations wholly owned and operated by families or by family farm corporations.
“Municipality” – the Township of Liberty.
“Person” – a natural person.
“Syndicate” – includes any limited partnership, limited liability partnership, business trust, or limited liability company organized under the laws of any state of the United States or any country.
Section 7. Statement of Law – Declaration of Rights. Every person and family in Liberty Township interested in creating, or already engaged in, an independent family farm operation, has an unabridged right to make a living wage from farming. Every person and family in Liberty Township has the right to privacy and security, a right to due process of law, a right to free exercise of their religion, a right to be free from involuntary servitude, and a right to equal protection of the laws. The people of Liberty Township also possess the rights guaranteed to them by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the federal Constitution, in addition to the rights guaranteed to them by Article I of the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Section 8. Statement of Law – Nullification. Any state or federal law requiring a mandatory animal identification or premises registration system within the Township of Liberty shall be null and void within the Township of Liberty.
Section 9. Statement of Law – Duty of Municipality. The Township of Liberty shall protect and defend the residents of the Township, with all necessary financial resources, from state and federal efforts to enforce mandatory animal identification or premises registration systems within the Township of Liberty. That duty shall include, but not be limited to, seeking injunctive relief against governmental and corporate entities which seek to enforce laws mandating animal identification and/or premises registration within the Township.
Section 10. Statement of Law – Corporate Constitutional Protections. No corporation or syndicate engaged in, or planning to engage in, agricultural operations within the Township of Liberty shall be protected, or empowered by, the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution, or by rights claimed within the text of the United States or Pennsylvania Constitutions, within the Township of Liberty. No corporation or syndicate shall be empowered by any private enforcement provisions contained within animal identification or premises registration systems within the Township of Liberty, to force any resident of the Township to comply with laws governing those systems.
Section 11. Enforcement. The Township Board of Supervisors shall take action to enjoin all efforts by County, State, and federal governmental officials to enforce any mandatory animal identification or premises registration laws against any resident of Liberty Township. Any attempt by those officials to enforce a mandatory animal identification or premises registration law shall be considered a summary criminal offense, punishable by $1,000.00 per violation, and such penalty shall be assessed personally against any individual, even if acting within their official capacity, who attempts to enforce a mandatory animal identification or premises registration law.
Section 12. Severability. The provisions of this Ordinance are severable, and if any section, clause, sentence, part, or provision thereof shall be held illegal, invalid or unconstitutional by any court of relevant jurisdiction, such decision of the court shall not affect, impair, or invalidate any of the remaining sections, clauses, sentences, parts or provisions of this Ordinance. It is hereby declared to be the intent of the Supervisors that this Ordinance would have been adopted if such provisions deemed by the Court to be illegal, invalid, or unconstitutional section, clause, sentence, part, or provision had not been included herein.
Section 13. Effect. This Ordinance shall be effective immediately upon its enactment.
COALITION OF ARIZONA/NEW MEXICO COUNTIES:
Coalition of Arizona/New Mexico Counties For Stable Economic Growth
"Working together for responsible management."
RESOLUTION OPPOSING THE PROPOSED NATIONAL ANIMAL IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM
WHEREAS the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is proposing a
Mandatory National Animal Identification System (NAIS) to be in place by 2009,
WHEREAS the primary justifications for the NAIS given by the USDA are animal
health issues, specifically, foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and bovine spongiform
encephalopathy (BSE), and
WHEREAS there has been no reported FMD in the United States for over 70 years
and its reintroduction is speculative, and
WHEREAS there have been only two reported cases of BSE in the United States with
one cow being imported from Canada and the other born and lived its entire life
on the property where it was born, and
WHEREAS there have been no reported cases of humans contacting, while within the
United States, the related condition of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and
WHEREAS the USDA has put into place all necessary safeguards to ensure that the
American beef supply has an extremely low probability of the transmissions of
BSE prions to humans, and
WHEREAS the intent of the NAIS is to monitor and control animal health, the
effectiveness is questioned due to the enormous size and complexity of the
WHEREAS the proposed NAIS is in violation of the Fourth Amendment, i.e. "The
right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,
against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, -----." and,
WHEREAS the USDA plans to subject GPS satellite surveillance (Standards, p.10)
and the distance radio-frequency reading (Standards, p. 27) into the homes of
millions of citizens and the government is not permitted to use sense-enhancing
technologies to invade the privacy of citizens homes, Kyllo v. United States,
533 U.S. 27 (2001) and the sanctity of the home is entitled to privacy
protection in circumstances where an industrial complex is not, Dow Chemical v.
U.S., 227, 238 (1986), and
WHEREAS the Coalition is strongly opposed to the proposed enormously intrusive
surveillance against unsuspecting citizens, and
WHEREAS the proposed NAIS is in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments
by attempting a forced registration in a huge permanent federal data base of
individual citizens' real property (the homes and land where animals are kept)
and personal property (the animals themselves) (Standards, pp 8-13; Plan, pp. 8,
WHEREAS the USDA is proposing that an animal owner, under the pain of
unspecified "enforcement" must report within 24 hours any instance of any animal
leaving or returning to the registered property is the trammeling of basic
property rights and fundamental human rights, which must remain free from
government interference, and is impossible to comply with in the rural ranching
community because of the areas involved and the lack of knowledge of the
location of each animal, and
WHEREAS the numerous constitutional infirmities are bound to enmesh the USDA,
the States of Arizona and New Mexico and the livestock industry in extremely
costly litigation for years to come, and
WHEREAS the financial and labor cost to the livestock producer is unknown for
purchasing and installing the proposed computer chips/ear tags, a Radio
Frequency Reading Instrument, a computer with a high-speed connection, a GPS
receiver for monitoring range livestock, software for both the computer and GPS
receiver, inputting the original data and updating the required data on the loss
or malfunction of any computer chip and any movement from or return to the
specified area of any and all livestock could easily generate over a thousand
data events per year requiring record keeping and reporting for even a modest
sized livestock operation, and generate tens/hundreds of thousands of data
events per year for medium to large livestock operations, which will be
extremely time consuming and costly, and
WHEREAS there is an extremely high potential for unauthorized computer chips to
enter the market, being obtained by unsuspecting livestock producers which will
result in erroneous data being utilized and reported with the potential for
unsuspecting liability, and
WHEREAS ear tags on range livestock are easily lost, identifying the original
livestock number, when two or more ear tags are lost, is impractical if not
impossible and replacing lost ear tags on range livestock is essential
impossible except when the livestock are gathered and even then not all
livestock cannot necessarily be located, and
WHEREAS the costs of the NAIS will surely be beyond the economic benefits for
most small animal producers and force them out of business which will also have
a devastating economic affect not only on the small producers but the rural
communities, counties and state, and
WHEREAS the human is the most fallible in the data inputting and transferring
process where even one error has the potential to cause irreparable harm to a
livestock producer, and
WHEREAS with an anticipated transfer of hundreds of millions of data points
every year, with the number of historically proven anticipated errors, has the
potential of creating an enormous lack of confidence in the system, identifying
locations where problems may not occur and the potential for extensive liability
charges where no liability exists, and
WHEREAS even one mistake by someone entering a multi-digit number into the data
base could easily transfer the liability of a diseased animal to another
livestock producer, and
WHEREAS an animal may not necessarily have a disease when it leaves the
producer's premises but a disease is identified later, and it cannot be proven
when the animal contacted the disease, the liability will surely be placed on
the livestock producer since every movement of the animal may not be entered
into the data base, and
WHEREAS any centralized computer data base can easily be breached by a "computer
hacker" and the protection of personal private information is highly suspect,
WHEREAS there is no proposal for communicating data to the existing state animal
health agencies, and
WHEREAS Arizona, New Mexico and other "brand" states have had animal
identification and tracking systems in place for over 100 years, and
WHEREAS brand state agencies have successfully demonstrated, on a continuing
basis, the ability to track animals for animal health reasons, and
WHEREAS brands have been proven to be an effective and economical means of
identifying animals, and
WHEREAS Arizona, New Mexico and the brand states contend that the data bases
they have accumulated for over 100 years are too valuable a resource for the
USDA to simply throw away and should be used for animal health tracking
WHEREAS state agencies like the Arizona Animal Services Division and New Mexico
Livestock Board have the statutory responsibility to monitor animal health, they
simply cannot hand over that responsibility or authority to anyone especially to
a private legal entity, i.e. privately contracted data collection system, and
WHEREAS a basic law of economics states, "Do not replace a proven economic
source with an unproven one," and
WHEREAS the proposed NAIS has many unproven practical applications with an
unknown cost to animal producers which has proven, with past initiatives, to be
unworkable due to the enormous and needless complexity, and
WHEREAS the proposed NAIS violates the 10th amendment, i.e. "The powers not
delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the
States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED The Coalition opposes the proposed USDA National
Animal Identification System and calls upon the Arizona and New Mexixo
Governors, State Legislators, and Congressional Delegations to join in opposing
implementing the program.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED The Coalition requests our Congrssional Delegations
ensure that there is congressional oversight on the proposed NAIS prior to the
implementation to properly address the concerns of the livestock industries, the
independent livestock producers and the recreational livestock owners and take
the necessary legislative action to ensure that as a minimum a pilot NAIS
program be conducted prior to full implementation to resolve the many potential
problems now foreseen with the full-scaled NAIS program.
Done this 17th day of March, 2006, by a unanimous vote of the Board of
1 The Coalition is comprised of Arizona Counties: Apache, Cochise, Gila, Graham,
Greenlee, and Navajo, and; New Mexico Counties: Catron, Chaves, Eddy, Harding,
Hidalgo, Lincoln, Otero, Sierra, Socorro and Rio Arriba; and the Towns of Sierra
Vista and Benson, Arizona, along with representation from livestock, timber,
mining, sportsmen, outfitter, farming and small business industries, as members
of the Coalition of Arizona/New Mexico Counties (Coalition). The population of
the combined membership exceeds 593,000.
P.O. Box 125 Glenwood, New Mexico 88039
Ranchers prepare for a revolution
By Jessica Hawley-Jerome - Managing Editor
Over 100 ranchers, farmers, horse lovers and property owners gathered last week at the Pipe Creek Community Center, each seeking translation for a wafting murmur that reeks of the ultimate big brother intrusion. Most left the Thursday-night town hall meeting prepared for what some may consider a revolution.
The issue at hand that had the crowd up in arms is a government plan labeled the National Animal Identification System (NAIS - pronounced [nase]). Reportedly buried in 2004 farm bill HB1361 after being lobbied by industrial-agricultural companies, NAIS was allegedly conceived for the purpose of safeguarding the country's meat supply by controlling the outbreak of communicable, deadly disease. What the public fears, however, is the apparent grander scheme.
"The time has come to pay closer attention to how the government is ruling our lives," Rancher Karen Brown said. "The USDA continues to misrepresent this as a volunteer program. In Texas, the penalty is up to $1,000 a day and may include jail time for failure to comply. A system that carries penalties is not a voluntary system."
According to Brown, the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) has launched a mail campaign which urges land and animal owners to register their properties with the government. At this point, Brown said, it is not mandatory to fill out the surveys, nor are those who receive the mailings required to send them back.
The plan purportedly calls for creating a premises identification number for all registered properties where livestock is located; radio tagging or microchipping all agricultural animals, including cattle, poultry, pig, deer, bison, equine and exotics; and 24-hour animal tracking, which will require extensive reporting to detail when a registered animal is relocated, whether permanently for market sale or temporarily for a show or trail ride.
"That is probably the most offensive part of the system," Brown said. "The cost of this program is going to be borne by people who own animals. People like us, people with small farms are going to disappear from the market. We just won't be able to absorb the cost."
Debbie Davis, a longhorn rancher in Tarpley, said that she signed up with the program two years ago. Regretting the action and now better informed, Davis helped found The Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA), a lobbying organization built to protect small farmers against systems like NAIS and corporate interference.
Davis said the first step in the fight is to vote for people who are against NAIS.
She said the Talent Emerson Bill, which is scheduled to be entered into Congress in December, will be the first statute to make NAIS a strictly voluntary program if approved. NAIS was unanimously passed two years ago because representatives neither knew about the program nor that it was hidden in the Christmas Tree house bill. Only one house representative, Suzanna Hupp, insisted that her vote be changed after the bill passed.
Davis also said that those who have signed and returned the mailed NAIS forms still have an opportunity, and the legal right, to withdraw now.
NAIS was originally destined to become a mandatory program by July of 2005. Due to mass protest, however, Brown said that the TAHC stalled the target date to 2007.
According to Davis, Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan have already implemented mandatory participation, under the leadership of extension agencies touting disease control as the number one priority. Texas may be next on the list.
"The USDA does not know how to ID disease," Brown said. "They have one policy for disease control - wholesale slaughter."
Brown said that if a diseased animal is discovered, all species susceptible to the disease will be immediately killed within a six-and-one-quarter mile radius, regardless of the animals' health status.
"I don't find that acceptable," Brown said. "My horses will be going somewhere else."
Dan Cox of the Barrel House in Pipe Creek said that he has a USDA license for selling feed, as well as a limited species of exotics.
Brown said that a backdoor compliance measure may prohibit feed stores and veterinarians from providing services to customers without a premises ID. Furthermore, feed store owners and vets may be enforced to report non-complying customers to the USDA or TAHC.
"They'll just have to close me down," Cox said. "I'll be danged if I become an informant on my neighbors."
Brown said that enforcement of NAIS will sabotage the system by creating a black market for agricultural needs. If an animal is diseased, for example, owners will be unlikely to seek legitimate veterinarian care, which could cause a serious, if not deadly, outbreak.
Ron Hickerson, who spearheaded the campaign against NASE in Bandera County, spoke briefly from a veteran's point of view in opposition to the slippery slope of large-scale surveillance.
"This is the first time in the history of our country that citizens have had to report their movements to the government," Hickerson said. "As a veteran, I look at this as a violation of my constitutional rights."
County commissioners will be called to the plate on Thursday, Oct. 26, when they will be asked to review and consider for action a resolution opposing NAIS and the proposed Texas Regulations for Mandatory Premises Registration.
"We need a resolution signed countywide opposing NAIS until the system is abolished," Brown said. "There is strength in numbers."
For a list of representatives and organizations in support of and opposed to NAIS, visit www.farmandranchfreedom.org.
STRAYHORN Calls for A Halt to the National Animal Identification System and Perry’s Mandated Participation of this New Fee—or as most Texans call it a Tax
STRAYHORN WANTS IT ADDED TO SPECIAL SESSION
Texas Independent Candidate for Governor Carole Keeton Strayhorn today said Gov. Rick Perry should stop the state’s participation in the National Animal Identification System and that the whole program should be looked at from top to bottom in the upcoming special session of the Legislature.
“No half-baked solution should be accepted and the Texas Animal Identification System should be rescinded and repealed,” and Strayhorn stated that “the Texas Legislature should clearly state that it will not fund any such program and is against the federal NAIS.
“This program is big government tax mandates at its worst,” Strayhorn said. “This unfunded tax mandate threatens the livelihoods of ranchers and places unreasonable burdens on every animal handler from veterinarians to livestock show organizers to children raising prized livestock.”
Perry signed into law House Bill 1361 that directs the Texas Animal Health Commission to create rules administering the government ID program that could require each horse, cow, steer, bull, pig, sheep, goat, turkey, chicken and other domestic and exotic livestock be registered and tagged with an electronic identifier.
It also requires each rancher – cattle, horse, chicken, etc. – to register with the state and pay a fee.
Strayhorn said Perry, who once served as Texas Agriculture Commissioner, should not be supporting this intrusion into rural Texas life and lifestyle.
“Maybe he didn’t understand just how intrusive this program is when he signed it into law,” she said. “But now that the Texas Animal Health Commission is debating rules to implement the program, it is clear this unwieldy tax program needs to be abandoned.”
She said lawmakers should be given the opportunity during the special session Perry has called to begin April 17th to abolish Texas’ participation in the program.
“The USDA is already slowing this program and is essentially letting states impose the animal tracking systems,” Strayhorn said. “Texas should just say no, now.”
Carole Keeton Strayhorn has always fought for less mandates and less government regulation and especially against unfunded and unnecessary mandates that create new layers of taxes and unnecessary burdens on our farmers, ranchers, and veterinarians, and even tries to tax our school children raising prize livestock for competitions.
“I strongly oppose the overly burdensome and intrusive NAIS because it is another tax on our agriculture community, which should be taxed less not more, unduly burdens our veterinarians, and because it is certainly not well thought out. It appears to be another example of special interest legislation being crammed down Texans throats.”
“Our children and grandchildren, who are competing with their prized livestock, should not be so burdened,” she said.
“I am still strongly fighting the governor’s still secret agreement with a foreign company to take our land and put toll roads all over Texas with the Trans Texas CATASTROPHE,” Strayhorn concluded.