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" N A I S "

The National Animal Identification System:
A New Threat to Rural Freedom

The End of Small Local Farmers in America !

 

 WARNING ~ This affects "every person who owns " even one horse, cow, pig, chicken, sheep, pigeon, or virtually any livestock animal.

It's a Plan designed to Destroy small Farming & the current Food Chain of all home grown food in America !

Why are most Local FARM BUREAU's, CO-OP'S ,VET'S & NEWS MEDIA Conspicuously " SILENT " on this important DESTRUCTIVE ISSUE ?????

The NAIS will drive small producers out of the market, will prevent people from raising animals for their own food, will invade Americans' personal privacy, and will violate the religious freedom of Americans whose beliefs make it impossible for them to comply.

The NAIS will create an unfair economic burden on small farmers and homesteaders, because animal owners will bear the costs of property and animal registration.

 

             " N A I S "
 

 

The National Animal Identification System:
A New Threat to Rural Freedom

By Mary Zanoni, Ph.D.

Small farmers and homesteaders have chosen their way of life because they love their freedom - the freedom from urban noise and congestion, the independence from government and corporate interference, the self-reliance of providing one's own shelter, water, food. Now the USDA's NAIS - National Animal Identification System - threatens the traditional freedoms of the rural way of life.

                                         The genesis of the NAIS

The NAIS is the brainchild of the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA). Who is the NIAA? Primarily two groups;

     

  1. The biggest corporate players in U.S. meat production (for example, the National Pork Producers, Monsanto, Cargill Meat); and

     

  2. The makers and marketers of high-tech animal ID equipment (for example, Digital Angel, Inc., EZ-ID/AVID ID Systems, Micro Beef Technologies, Ltd.).

Beginning in 2002, the NIAA used 9/11, and subsequently the BSE scares to lobby the USDA for a nationwide, all-livestock registration and tracking system. The result is the USDA's proposed NAIS, set forth in a " Draft Strategic Plan" (Plan), and " Draft Program Standards"  (Standards), released on April 25, 2005.

 The Plan and Standards can be downloaded from www.usda.gov/nais.

(Buy the audio tape for only $ 5  for an informative critique of the PLAN & STANDARDS mentioned at the end of this commentary) 

Main requirements of the NAIS

The NAIS would require two types of mandatory registration. First, premises registration would require every person who owns even one horse, cow, pig, chicken, sheep, pigeon, or virtually any livestock animal, to register their home, including owner's name, address, and telephone number, and keyed to Global Positioning System coordinates (for satellite-assisted location of homes and farms), in a federal database under a 7-digit "premises ID number." (Standards, pp. 3-4, 10-12; Plan, p. 5.)

Second, individual animal identification will require owners to obtain a 15-digit ID number, also to be kept in the federal database, for any animal that ever leaves the premises of its birth. Thus, even if you are raising animals only for your own food, you will have to obtain an individual ID to send animals to a slaughterhouse, to sell or buy animals, to obtain stud service. (Large-scale producers will be allowed to identify, e.g., large groups of pigs or broilers raised and processed together by a single group ID number. However, owners raising single animals or a small number, under most circumstances, will have to identify each animal individually for purposes of slaughter, sale, or breeding.) If you own a non-food animal such as a horse, you would need individual ID if you ever left your property for shows or trail rides. The form of ID will most likely be a tag or microchip containing a Radio Frequency Identification Device, designed to be read from a distance. (Plan, p. 10; Standards, pp. 6, 12, 20, 27-28.) In addition to this "electronic identification," the USDA will allow "industry" to decide whether to require the use of "retinal scan" and "DNA" identification for all animals. (Plan, p. 13.)

Within this system, for animals subject to individual animal identification, the animal owner would be required to report: the birthdate of an animal, the application of every animal's ID tag, every time an animal leaves or enters the property, every time an animal loses a tag, every time a tag is replaced, the slaughter or death of an animal, or if any animal is missing. Such events must be reported within 24 hours. (Standards, pp. 12-13, 17-21.) The USDA plans "enforcement" to ensure compliance with the NAIS. (Standards, p. 7; Plan, p. 17.) The USDA has not yet specified the nature of this "enforcement," but presumably it would include fines and/or seizure of animals.

A more recent development is a movement, spearheaded by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), to "privatize" the database, which will contain all the premises and animal identification information, and tracking information. As reported in Lancaster Farming, Aug. 6, 2005, p. E 22, the NCBA has lobbied the House Agriculture Committee to urge the USDA to put the NAIS database administration into the control of the NCBA itself. As explained below, such "privatization" will only worsen the prospects for invasion of privacy, and economic pressures on small farmers and homesteaders.

Any "benefits" of the NAIS Are illusory

The NIAA and USDA claim two principal benefits of the NAIS: first, enhancing export markets for U.S. livestock products; and second, allowing traceback to farms of animals' origin when animal diseases (such as BSE) are found. These "benefits" are of no use to most small farmers and homesteaders. Small farmers and homesteaders sell to their neighbors, or consume their animal products themselves - they don't profit from "export markets." Small farmers and homesteaders raise their animals in natural and healthy conditions - usually on pasture, with minimal home-raised or organic grain, with plenty of space for exercise and dispersal of waste - to assure that problems like BSE and bacterial contamination won't occur in the home-raised animals destined for their own tables.

Indeed, the NAIS "traceback" system would be much less effective against BSE than a system of testing every slaughtered cow. Europe and Japan perform testing of every cow. The USDA has refused such testing; but surely the testing would be less expensive than a huge tracking system covering every cow, horse, donkey, llama, alpaca, pig, sheep, goat, pigeon, chicken, duck, farmed fish, etc., etc.

Moreover, the NAIS system would be of no use at all in dealing with the most common types of meat contamination in the U.S., the occurrence of pathogens such as listeria or E. coli in processed meat. One example of such contamination can be found at www.fsis.usda.gov/Fsis_recalls, 2005 recalls nos. 033-2005 and 040-2005. Those incidents involved over one million pounds (enough to serve at least four million people) of ground beef contaminated with coliform bacteria, distributed nationwide by a single processor. Such instances of contamination are not discovered until the meat has been distributed into the supply chain.

Assuming that a cow yields 500 pounds of ground meat, the one million pounds in the foregoing recalls represent meat from over 2,000 cows. There is no way to identify individual cows from one million pounds of hamburger; no way to tell if any contamination came from a cow, multiple cows, or from the processing itself; and no benefit to consumer safety in such a situation from the NAIS system. In sum, when meat becomes contaminated at a large packing plant, millions of consumers in all 50 states can be exposed to the dangerous product. In contrast, an incident of impaired food at a small-scale farm or local processor might affect only a few dozen consumers in a single county. Thus, by encouraging increased consolidation of the meat industry, the NAIS would actually make America's food supply more unstable and less safe.

It is therefore clear that the benefits of the NAIS are illusory. Unfortunately, the harms of the NAIS are very real, and fall primarily upon the smallest farmers, homesteaders, and consumers.

The harms of the NAIS are very real

The NAIS will drive small producers out of the market, will prevent people from raising animals for their own food, will invade Americans' personal privacy, and will violate the religious freedom of Americans whose beliefs make it impossible for them to comply.

The NAIS will create an unfair economic burden on small farmers and homesteaders, because animal owners will bear the costs of property and animal registration. As the USDA frankly admits,

"there will be costs to producers" (Plan, p. 11); "private funding will be required... Producers will identify their animals and provide necessary records to the databases... All groups will need to provide labor." (Plan, p. 14.)

In sum, there is no realistic chance of government funding to cover the costs of the program once it is established, and animal owners will have to pay the tab for premises registration fees, individual animal ID fees, reporting fees for events such as animals leaving a given premises or being slaughtered, and for equipment such as RFID tags, tag readers, or software needed to report to the database. The proposed privatization of the NAIS would only worsen the economic burden, since a private database holder would certainly want to make some profit from the system.

The NAIS would also, in fact, lessen - rather than improve - the security of America's animal foods.

The NAIS is touted by the USDA and agricorporations as a way to make our food supply "secure" against diseases or terrorism. However, most people instinctively understand that real food security comes from raising food yourself, or buying from a local farmer you actually know. The USDA plan will only stifle local sources of production through over-regulation and additional costs. Ultimately, if the NAIS goes into effect, more consumers will have to buy food produced by the large-scale industrial methods which multiply the effects of any food safety and disease problems. Moreover, the NAIS system will create opportunities for havoc, such as the deliberate introduction of diseased animals into premises containing large numbers of a given species.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the NAIS is its proponents' lack of concern for individual privacy and religious freedom. Consider that the NAIS plan is a compulsory registration with the government of all people who want to raise their own animal foods. Concededly, the Bill of Rights does not contain a Constitutional amendment specifically to protect one's right to produce one's own food. But that is only because the generation of the Founders could never have imagined that American government could evolve into a system that would compel citizens to, in effect, ask for government permission to produce their own food.

Further, consider that livestock animals are legally a form of personal property. It is unprecedented for the United States government to conduct large-scale, computer-aided, surveillance of its citizens simply because they own a common type of property. (The only exceptions are registration of motor vehicles and guns, due to their clear inherent dangers - but they are registered at the state level, not by the federal government. Moreover, those registration systems predate the widespread use of personal computers and the development of the Internet, so even the car and gun registration systems were never intended as the widespread threat to privacy and freedom that they have become today.) Surveillance of small-scale livestock owners is like the government subjecting people to surveillance for owning a couch, a tv, a lawnmower, or any item of personal property.

Moreover, privatization of the NAIS will surely result in the same gross abuses already evident in private databases of financial information - the sale of citizens' most personal data, without their knowledge, to the highest bidder; and the vulnerability of citizens' information to hackers and thieves, because the President and Congress, have utterly failed to subject the powerful private data industry to long-needed protections for citizens' privacy.

The NAIS also violates America's tradition of respect for the religious freedom of members of minority faith communities. Many adherents of plain, (and other) faiths, raise their own food animals, and use animals in farming and transportation, because their beliefs require them to live this way. Such people obviously cannot comply with the USDA's computerized, technology-dependent system; and many of them also believe that scriptural teachings or other religious tenets prohibit the marking of animals or homes with high-tech numbering systems. The NAIS will force these people to violate their religious beliefs, by compelling them to make an impossible choice between abandoning the livestock ownership necessary to their religious way of life, or accepting the government's imposition of practices abhorrent to their faith.

The USDA's planned NAIS "timetable"

The following is the USDA's timetable, as set forth in the Draft Strategic Plan, and Draft Program Standards, on April 25, 2005, for implementing the mandatory NAIS. Essentially, the USDA timetable would make premises identification and individual animal identification mandatory as of January 1, 2008. Please note that there can be no assurance that the USDA will not advance (or delay) the previously announced timetable. In addition, the USDA timetable may differ from that of individual states, which have had the incentive of grant money from the USDA to establish pilot projects of premises and animal identification. (For example, Wisconsin is attempting to compel premises and animal identification by late 2005, or during 2006.)

     

  • April 2005 - the USDA issued its Draft Strategic Plan and Draft Program Standards for public comment. The public comment period for those documents ended in early July 2005.

     

  • July 2006 - the Draft Strategic Plan (p. 10) gives July 2006 as the target date for the USDA to issue a proposed rule setting forth the requirements for NAIS premises registration, animal identification, and animal tracking. This will be a crucial juncture for action by those who will be harmed by the NAIS, because there will be a limited public comment period after the publication of the rule, and objections expressed in the public comments may persuade the USDA to modify, or abandon some requirements of the rule.

     

  • Fall 2007 - the USDA plans to publish a "final rule" to establish the requirements of the mandatory NAIS. (Plan, p. 10.)

     

  • January 2008 - this is the most crucial date in the USDA's present timetable, the date when premises identification and animal identification would become mandatory. (Plan, pp. 2, 10.)

     

  • January 2009 - "animal tracking" would become mandatory, including "enforcement" of the reporting of animal movements. (Plan, p. 17.)

"How to oppose the NAIS "

There is still time to oppose mandatory premises and animal identification. Small-scale keepers of livestock can take action to create an effective movement in opposition to the USDA/agricorporate plan. First, small-scale livestock owners should not participate in any so-called "voluntary" state or federal program to register farms or animals. The USDA is using farmers' supposed willingness to enter a "voluntary" program as a justification for making the program mandatory. (See Plan, "Executive Summary" and pp. 7-8.) If a state or extension official urges registration of your premises or livestock, question them about whether the registration is mandatory or voluntary, and about any deadline for registration; and ask them for a copy of the legislation or rule establishing any claimed authority to require such registration.

Small farmers and livestock owners can also help inform and organize others. The USDA presently does not plan to finalize its rules to establish mandatory ID until the summer of 2006. (As stated above, individual states, such as Wisconsin, may be planning earlier implementation, but even in such states, widespread objection by animal owners can still affect whether plans become permanent and whether reasonable exceptions may be established.) Animal owners should contact breed associations, organic and sustainable farming organizations, or general farming interest groups and ask them to oppose the NAIS. Also ask such organizations to start or support campaigns of letter-writing to officials and of commenting on the USDA rules scheduled to be issued in summer 2006 (and any similar state rules).

NAIS opponents can also individually write their federal and state legislators. You can find contact information for both federal and state officials through www.vote-smart.org or through the federal government's site, www.firstgov.gov. Remember, the conventional wisdom is that individual letters sent by postal mail carry more weight than e-mails, or signing on to form letters. But any input is more useful than no input, so if you don't have time for an individual letter, use e-mail, telephone, group petitions, or any means you can. Also remember that both individual initiative and group initiatives count, so even after you have sent a letter, continue, if you can, to respond to calls for action asking you to send additional messages to government officials.

In particular, the USDA's planned issuance of a NAIS rule for public comment in July 2006, will be a crucial juncture. Be aware of press coverage or action alerts at that time, and when you hear that the public comment period on a NAIS rule is open, please take the time to submit an individual comment.

Finally, if the time comes when the NAIS, or a state equivalent, is about to go into effect as presently planned, and you feel your rights are being violated, you can contact groups that may provide legal representation without cost. Some sources of information to try are:

  1. Farmers' Legal Action Group,
    www.flaginc.org, 651-223-5400;

     

  2. the American Civil Liberties Union,
    www.aclu.org; for the ACLU in your state, see the pull-down menu on the bottom of that page, under "your local ACLU"; and

     

  3. the American Bar Association's guide to legal services,
    www.abanet.org/legalservices/findlegalhelp/home.cfm.
**************************************************
 

Commentary...

NAIS Spawned by
International Entanglements

By Doreen Hannes

April 1, 2006

If you've been wondering where the insanity masquerading as our federal government "food safety" and animal health protection regulations and laws are coming from, you can now say, with certainty, that they descend from the organizations within, and tied to the United Nations.

Before you throw a conditioned response out, that this is all just "conspiracy theory" propagated by right-wing nut-cases, you had best be able to understand the impact on trade of the SPS and TBT agreements made through the WTO (World Trade Organization), and be able to relate the position of the United States in the OIE and Codex.

Should you be unfamiliar with the NAIS (National Animal Identification System), the shortest explanation that can be given of the proposed system is that anyone who has any type of livestock, say two chickens, will have to register their property, complete with global positioning satellite coordinates, microchip their chickens with an NAIS ISO11785 compliant chip, and report within 24 hours if said chickens ever leave the property, hatch out chicks (another chip required), go to the vet, or die.

No kidding. To learn more about that, you must read the "Draft Strategic Plan" and the "Draft Standards" which are available only online. The USDA will not send you copies of these documents, but they will send you a nice glossy packet with a "soft" description of the program.

This is not an easy subject to relate to people who, by design, have very limited knowledge of our government's involvement in these organizations, and even less understanding about the mechanisms employed in the organizations. It's extremely complicated, and at the very least, veiled to public scrutiny, but if you are willing to dig, and read hundreds of pages of mind-numbing rules and agreements, it is there, and it is proven.

An introduction to acronyms is necessary. The players involved in the proposed National Animal Identification System being pushed by the USDA, and to be managed by APHIS (Animal Plant Health Inspection Service) are varied. First, there is the WTO (World Trade Organization), which reached an agreement amongst participating countries several years ago in Uruguay, called the SPS (Sanitary and Phytosanitary) and TBT (Technical Barriers to Trade) agreements.

In laymen's terms, what the SPS agreement says is that each member country can make regulations that must be met by other member countries, in order to trade in agricultural goods with each other. These regulations must be in the interest of protecting the country making the regulations, from disease, pests, or perceived health dangers. Countries making regulations cannot impose more strict regulations on importer nations than they do on their own nation.

Then there was the TBT (Technical Barriers to Trade) agreement made at the same time in Uruguay. What that says is that developed countries must help less developed countries to advance technologically, to be able to participate in trade with other member countries. Developed countries cannot require more than a country is able to achieve, and the developed countries need to help the less developed countries to meet their own criteria, through funding and other assistance.

Then there is the OIE, or World Animal Health Organization, which, although it is independent of the U.N. in origin, works very closely with both the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.) and Codex Alimentarius, which is a child of the U.N. and FAO. Codex can be best understood as being the global FDA, and OIE as the global USDA. The Untied States of America has membership in both the OIE and the U.N., and, therefore, Codex.

The OIE has authority over all member nations' veterinary services. Most of the OIE rules are rather innocuous, however, they have become increasingly involved in issues directly relating to trade, since the advent of the WTO in 1994. OIE has also been increasingly involved with Codex, and are working in concert on nearly everything at this time. Of particular importance to the subject of the NAIS (National Animal Identification System), is the issue of "traceability/product tracing" and "good farming practices."

The OIE has a publication available online called the "Terrestrial Animal Health Standards Commission," which is absolutely loaded with information regarding "traceability/product tracing" and Codex standards on the subject.

On page 41 of the TAHSC (Terrestrial Animal Health Standards Commission), it states that there is a critical relationship between animal identification and the traceability of animal products, and that animal identification and traceability are:

"...key tools for animal health, including zoonoses (diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans), and food safety", as well as "incidents, vaccination programmes, herd/flock management, zoning/compartmentalization, surveillance, early response and notification systems, animal movement controls, and health measures to facilitate trade."

Also, worth noting, from page 41, is the following paragraph:

"The Competent Authority, in partnership with relevant government agencies and the private sector, should establish a legal framework for the implementation and enforcement of animal identification and animal traceability in the country. In order to facilitate compatibility and consistency, relevant international standards and obligations should be taken into account. This legal framework should include elements such as the objectives, scope, organizational agreements, including the choice of technologies used for identification and registration, obligation of the parties, confidentiality, accessibility issues, and the efficient exchange of information."

In Appendix XXXIV of the Terrestrial Animal Health Standards document it states that VS (veterinary services) are the "Competent Authority" for animal identification and traceability in all member countries. It also does such fun things as roll the words "animal identification system" into the word "animal identification," so that the smaller term may legally be referred to a meaning an entire national, or international system.

The European Union has made no real secret of the fact that their animal identification requirements are in line with both Codex and the OIE. It is my understanding that RFID will also be a mandatory requirement in the EU in January of 2008. There are a few catch phrases that have become fairly common, stemming from the mandates of Codex, such as "farm-to-fork" traceability and "from stable-to-table," that leave no doubt of the identity of the progenitors of the U.S. National Animal Identification System. The USDA and the OIE and Codex, as well as the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.), state that this is consumer-driven.

While there may be a desire on the part of consumers to know the conditions under which their food was raised, the conditions which spark that desire are not conditions caused by small- or medium-sized agricultural endeavors, or even large privately owned operations. The corporate ag companies, with their disregard for life and use of chemicals, antibiotics and hormones to improve their bottom-line, are responsible for the lack of confidence felt by those who cannot raise their own food. Yet,

The net-effect of this program will be much higher cost for food, and a loss of choice for the consumer, as smaller farmers will be driven out of business by the costs of compliance and loss of production time, because of the increase in paperwork and reporting needs, as well as the many millions who will not be able to comply with the system, because of deeply held religious convictions, or aversions to the loss of freedom necessitated by the monitoring and surveillance implicit in this program.

As a matter of fact, corporate ag will be one of the few beneficiaries of this system, because they will be allowed to tag their animals as groups, or lots, under only one tag per group/lot, whereas those who practice more natural forms of animal rearing will need to tag each and every animal born, at additional cost, with additional reporting time. Reports may also be required on what is being fed to the stock, as "assurance" schemes are repeatedly referred to in both OIE and Codex guidelines.

On page 37 of the TAHSC (Terrestrial Animal Health Standards Commission document, referred to above) there is a clear, and indisputable tie to the Bioterrorism Act of 2002, which passed into law, and is enforced by the FDA in the United States. The Bioterrorism Act of 2002 is the Act which is requiring that hay producers in the U.S. register their premises, and report who drove the truck, which field it was from, who worked on the harvesting of the hay, and to whom the hay was sold. A quote from the TAHSC document, showing the clear link follows:

"... the Task Force on Animal Feeding (May 2004) agreed to add a footnote to the title of Section 4.3 "Traceability/Product Tracing and Record keeping of Feed and Feed Ingredients" to indicate the defintion developed by the Codex committee on General Principles applied to the Code (Terrestrial Animal Health Code, of the OIE) as appropriate ... the prompt trace-back of feed and feed ingredients should be to the immediate previous source, and trace forward should be to the next subsequent recipients."

Throughout these documents are references to harmonization of identification and traceability methods and standards. In one document, by Perry, "harmonization" is defined as: "the establishment, recognition, and application of common sanitary and phytosanitary measures by different Members." The United States is a "Member," so the directions following harmonization apply to the U.S. For food safety, (feed included) we must refer to Codex, for animal health, the authority goes to the OIE. In the World Trade Organization documents, regarding the SPS (sanitary and phytosanitary agreement) and the TBT (technical barriers to trade agreement), it is recommended that any disputes be mediated by the OIE or Codex.

It is abundantly clear that through these international entanglements, our officials are both legislating and regulating our God-given and Constitutionally-guaranteed rights away. In the name of international trade and globalization, these officials have agreed to implement a plan that is destructive to our nation's existence, as well as our freedom to feed ourselves, without intense surveillance.

As a nation, we must ask ourselves: Is our freedom for sale in the global market? Is selling beef to Japan important enough to throw our Constitution, and our children's future into the trash can? Can we not support ourselves agriculturally, with the excellent controls we already have in place? Is your freedom worth more than all the bananas you may eat? To quote Patrick Henry: "Is life so dear, and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?

 



Highly recommend buying this excellent one hour audio taped show WED Mar 29th '06 with Derry Brownfield ( farmer ) on "NAIS ".

Play it at all public gatherings,County & Township meetings,Farm Bureau & veterinary meetings etc..

CALL (573) 893 - 8255     Only $ 5  ~ includes Shipping


 
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