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Articles refer to the US - and many would say that the UK is not far behind. If animal registration is essential for a proper control of disease, then its use must be explained in a way that people can trust. If not, the assumption that there is a hidden agenda is likely to be widespread.

The NAIS...

Texans to be fined
up to $1,000 a day
for failing to register,
if they own any horses,
cows, goats, birds

By Randy Givens

January 15, 2006

If you live in Texas, and own any birds (including parakeets), goats, cows, or horses, you need to read this message. Big Brother is about to get involved in your affairs, up close, personal, and forever. If you don't live in Texas, you better read this anyway, because this is part of a nationwide program being pushed by the federal government. If your state is not on the bandwagon right now, it soon will be.

The program described below is intended to help fight the spread of infectious diseases, such as mad cow disease. It is also intended to help fight biological warfare, if our food supply is attacked.

However, as written, it makes no discrimination if you own one horse or 1,000 horses, or one parakeet or 1,000 chicken coops. It does not apply just to big farmers and ranchers, it applies to everyone, including Granny. If you live in a condominium and own a parakeet, the way the rules are now written, you must register your "premises," and keep the registration current ($10 a year) for as long as you own that "exotic fowl." The rules do not include any exceptions for hobbyists or pet owners. An owner of one bird will be treated just like Tyson's Chickens. If you don't believe me, then read the fact sheet.

The proposal says that you must register your "premises" (where you keep the animal), pay $10 a year to the state, and must reregister every two years for as long as you own one "exotic fowl" (parakeet, canary). You must obtain a "premises registration certificate" for your "premises," even if it is your private residence. You will be required to register any and all of the following types of animals, and register your "premises" for as long as you own one of any of the species listed:

"Animal" includes livestock, exotic livestock, domestic fowl, poultry, and exotic fowl.

"Livestock" includes cattle, horses, mules, asses, sheep, goats, and hogs.

"Exotic livestock" means grass-eating or plant-eating, single-hooved or cloven-hooved mammals that are not indigenous to this state, and are known as ungulates, including animals from the bovine, swine, horse, tapir, rhinoceros, elephant, deer, and antelope families.

"Exotic fowl" means any avian species that is not indigenous to this state. The term includes ratites (flightless birds, eg., emu, ostrich).

"Poultry" means domestic fowl, including chickens, turkeys, and game birds.

Eventually, they plan to require all animals to have an:

"Animal Identification Number (AIN)" means a unique individual animal identification number assigned by the national numbering system for the official identification of individual animals in the United States. The format contains 15 digits: the first three are the country code (840 for the United States), and the following 12 digits are the animal's unique national number.

That "Animal Identification Number" will usually be attached to the animal with a:

"Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID)" means unique individual animal identification with an identification device that utilizes radio frequency technology. The RFID devices include ear tags, boluses, implants (injected), and tag attachments (transponders that work in concert with ear tags).

This program will be compulsory, and is permanent. If you fail to comply, you can be fined. The rules allow for fines up to $1,000 per day for failure to comply.

These Texas rules are open to public comment until 5 pm, Monday, February 6, 2006. If you don't want to become ensnared in this gigantic bureaucratic web, then you better get on the phone to your elected officials, and let them know how you feel about this. Formal comments, as described below, are important. However all your elected officials need to know about this impending intrusion into our private lives. Call and write your state and federal Representatives and Senators, as well as your County Commissioners. I suggest you tell them that the state and federal government should back off, and rewrite this mess, to leave the average pet owner, horse owner, and small farmer alone.

Have you ever heard of a "registration" program that did not lead to an "inspection" program?

I think it's time that our government learns that "the government that governs least, governs best."


The mark of the beast

By Henry Lamb

January 15, 2006 

The stated purpose of the program is to enable government to trace, within 48 hours, the source of a faulty animal food product. The effect of the program is the transfer of the control of private property to the government while forcing the property owner to pay the cost of the transfer.

Last week's column asked: "What do you call it when government takes away the use of private property, but leaves the title in the name of the property owner?" Dozens of letter writers correctly responded: "Fascism." Last week's column was about government controlling the use of land; this week, the government is controlling the use of animals.

The program is not limited to commercial producers; it includes the half-dozen chickens at Grandma's house. Her "premises" and each chicken must be registered with the government, as the program now stands. In fact, the pet parakeet in a cage on the 20th floor of a condo in Miami Beach must also be registered, along with the premises. As the program now stands, there are no exceptions.

Surely some of the stupidity will be squeezed out of the program as more people become aware of it, and insist that government has gone too far. The question, however, is not how far is too far, but whether government should go there at all.

Nothing among the enumerated powers granted to the federal government by the U.S. Constitution can be construed to include the power to control the use of private property. The federal government is empowered to regulate interstate commerce, but Grandma's chickens and Aunt Jane's parakeet do not constitute interstate commerce.

Everyone wants a safe, abundant, and affordable food supply, which America has enjoyed for years without a National Animal Identification System. Why is it necessary now? The increased terrorist threat certainly justifies tightening up security in the food chain. But, the NAIS does little or nothing to tighten security, while imposing ridiculous burdens upon the small producer.

The NAIS was initiated by the National Institute of Animal Agriculture, a non-government organization consisting of the leaders of agribusiness. The program they designed tends to shift the burden, cost, and ultimate responsibility for food safety from the agribusiness giants to the small producer.

Interstate commerce conjures up images of businesses such as Tyson Foods, which has mastered the art of vertically integrated marketing. Tyson controls the production of its chickens from birth to market, using farmers only to provide space and labor to get their product to slaughter. Here is where government should focus its regulatory concern and leave Grandma's chickens alone.

Suppliers of beef, pork, and lamb, often buy their animals from small producers, who work hard to raise healthy, marketable animals. The agribusiness suppliers are free to buy, or not buy, from any producer. Here, at the point where the product enters the food chain, is where responsibility, security, and regulatory control should be focused not on the already overburdened small producer.

But, no. The NAIS requires the small producer to not only bear the cost of the program, but also to be the ultimate scapegoat in the event that an agribusiness supplier's product is found to be faulty, for whatever reason. Should little Johnny get sick after eating a hamburger made with beef supplied by BigAgri Packing Company, BigAgri simply points the finger to the producer, or producers, whose cows were in the batch from which Johnny's hamburger was made. Agribusiness shifts its responsibility for buying only healthy product to the farmer, who must guarantee his animals to be healthy.

The NAIS is an industry-designed program, which will drive small producers out of business, reduce competition, and ultimately put both supply and price in the hands of industry giants unless opponents of this program get organized.



Reader response...

Facism is what
we should call it

By Edward H. Ey

January 15, 2006


Congratulations on grabbing the tip of the NAIS iceberg. You clearly understand the essence of the major issues facing small agricultural producers, and the general public. But there is a much broader set of implications that you might want to look into.

The incestuous relationship between agribusiness and the USDA is well recognized by many farmers and livestock producers. The USDA is no longer a useful agency for American agriculture. The USDA has become the conscript of agribusiness. All key positions at the USDA are now held by former agribusiness people, or their minions.

The NAIS scheme currently has little or no support, among small and independent farmers and livestock producers. Few to none of my friends and neighbors have bought into the NAIS Ponzi scheme. We recognize the sleaze, the illicit design, the unnecessary cost, and the political intentions of this latest useless offering from Washington, D.C.

Beyond the overt display of tracking animals, the NAIS plan is to be used by the IRS to verify farmer and producer incomes, and the system will also become a tool used by agribusiness. The USDA has backed away from direct implementation of the system, and will use contractors and private organizations to do the dirty work of installing the system and collecting the data. The Secretary of Agricultural knows when to back away from a smelly pig.

So, why is the collection of agricultural livestock data important beyond the control of private property? The answer is because the agribusiness giants will then have access to all of the information on the database. They will have knowledge about all sources and supplies of commodity animals. They will use such information to improve their ongoing practice of captive supply and market price manipulation. The USDA has promised protection of my private producer information, once its on the database. Right! If anyone believes that, they can see me about some swamp land I have for sale in Florida.

To gain a better understanding of this menace, you might be interested in the actions and writings of Mike Callicrate, the actions of the OCM outfit in Nebraska, plus some of the issues defined by R-CALF other than BSE imports, and the increasing national trend of small farmers and producers to form more independent co-op outfits to counter the threat of agribusiness.

Agribusiness killed the independent chicken and pork industries, and they are now attempting to do the same thing to independent cattle producers. Agribusiness and the USDA are successfully depopulating the Great Plains, but a national range war has begun in the cattle business, and it's liable to get very nasty, very soon.

Fascism is what we call it, when private property is controlled by government. Clearly, there is no issue more important for the Supreme Court to fix than private property rights.

But, what do you call it when multi-national corporations (e.g. Monsanto, ADM) control all grain seeds, via patents, GMOs, and chemical controls? I still haven't figured out how a corporation can be allowed to patent a life form.

What do you call it when all beef is controlled by the likes of Tyson, Cargill, et al, and imported meat receives the coveted USDA stamp of approval? What do you call it when all pork is controlled and imported from overseas by Smithfield?

What do you call it when imported agricultural products grown with illegal chemicals in foreign countries (Mexico), and imported beef products contain life threatening contaminants, packing house residuals (Brazil), and potential disease (Brazil and Japan's BSE threat), and the government will not implement Country Of Origin Labeling legislation? Why doesn't the U.S. government want me to know where this food comes from?

I do not mean to belabor the obvious, with these ongoing real events now taking place in our country, but you must agree that if one thinks oil dependency on the Middle East is a major problem, just wait until our food supply system is controlled by agribusiness, their USDA puppets, Wall Street, and foreign governments.

The current lobbyist scandals in Congress pale by comparison to what is taking place in our national agricultural system. Actions now underway by agribusiness and the USDA will seal the fate of the American family farm and the American consumer. The NAIS is but one step in the overall strategy.

Henry, you can render a great service to the citizens of this country by looking into the rest of the USDA/Agribusiness greasy iceberg, and reporting on it. I promise that you will find the overall strategy of agribusiness, and its future plans to control your foodstuffs beyond belief, and very scary.

No plant diversity, no variations, everything monoculture hybrids, and no controls on quality, origins, or nutrition should raise major concerns. But, Americans will likely continue to buy from the "Lowest Prices Always" businesses that feed on the bottom, right next to agribusiness and the USDA.

Edward H. Ey
East Branch Farm