The Latest Tyranny: Tagging Terrorist Chickens
By Justin & Franklin Sanders
The Money Changer
Have you heard about the National Animal Identification System (NAIS)? The radio ads feature a “farmer” telling us how hard it is to make a living farming today - harder than it was for Momma and Daddy. Worse yet, now we’ve got the risks of all these new diseases. But - golly, golly, gee -- the government is going to help. They’ve come up with a voluntary program to register our farms and animals to protect us and our animals from diseases. All good Americans will sign up.
Characteristically, the radio propaganda-speak beareth no likeness to the truth. To prove that for yourself, visit www.usda.gov/nais and click on the “Draft Strategic Plan” on the upper right hand side.
We all know that there is no pandemic or epidemic now sweeping through the livestock population would demand such drastic measures. If so, government’s first act wouldn’t be punching an ear tag into every chicken they could catch. Any eighteen-year-old mother who knows to hand testing a forehead for fever can tell you that tagging ears to fight disease is ridiculous. No, during epidemics government agents kill the infected animals and all animals in the herd. Then they spread out and test neighbouring herds and destroy those that test positive.
IF THEY’RE NOT FIGHTING DISEASE, THEN WHY NAIS?
Follow the money. Ask, Cui bono? Who benefits?
Agribusiness lobbied the USDA to create a system to protect them from legal liability if an epidemic does break out. More, NAIS would protect agribusiness market share, forestalling a public revulsion against their product by “confirming” that only a few animals were sick, rather than not thousands. NAIS enables huge agribusiness conglomerates that concentrate thousands of animals (and so concentrate the chance for spreading diseases) to point their finger at someone else.
People in Sheboygan get sick from something they ate. It’s determined the meat came from a local fast food joint. That fast food joint gets its meat from ABC cow factory. ABC cow factory buys cows from XYZ feedlots. Those feedlots had cows numbered 1q10 through 1q500 in their possession and those cows came from 15 small farms in suburban Tempe. Goodbye 15 small farms in suburban Tempe. Hello scapegoat for fast food joint, slaughterhouse, and feedlots.
To protect themselves these large corporations will effectively to put small farmers out of business. Not only the program costs (which fall on the farmer), but also the threat of fines and jail time for not complying will drive small farmers off the land. At the same time, NAIS sets up the same corporations as the only entities granted the ‘privilege’ to raise animals, since they, of course are the only ones who can be trusted to follow such a plan to protect the “national herd.”
But I’ve just got a few chickens and a horse. Not me, right?
Wrong. The NAIS plans provide no exemptions whatever. One chicken, one horse, one cow, one sheep, one goat, one bison, one llama, one alpaca, one turkey, one duck -- all must register, premises & animals.
GOODBYE PROPERTY RIGHTS
The NAIS abolishes private property rights in farms and in animals. The NAIS, run by a branch of the USDA, considers “your” animals to be not yours, but part of “the national herd.” Plainly, they are right. If they can force you to register your farm and your animals, you do not own them. They own them because they control them. You are only inventorying property & animals for their true owner, the federal government.
MANDATORY MEANS MANDATORY
The NAIS’s schedule fixes January 2008 for “mandatory” enforcement. Mandatory means “forced” and “enforcement” means “putting into force.” Not of your own free will. The government will fine you, put you in jail, or seize your animals for raising animals without registering them with the government -- “raising animals without a licence,” I reckon they’ll call it. That’s right, 6,500 years of historical right will be abolished. From now on, you’ll be breaking the law for being a farmer without government permission.
What’s more, “The Department does not plan to issue ‘alerts’ to inform livestock owners of the requirements until April 2007, only eight months prior to the date when it will be mandatory to submit the GPS co-ordinates of one’s home and the RFID of one’s animal[s] to the USDA database.” (Zanoni, 3)
MORE GOOD NEWS
Who will pay for NAIS? You will. It does not favour the small farmer, but corporations with huge budgets. These conglomerates get to write off government registration fees, etc., but the write off means almost nothing to small farmers, who must first come up with the money to comply. The NAIS is free now, but will not be in the future. On their website, the NAIS states, “Even with public funding, there will be costs to producers.” There’s a time tax, too. States, tribes, producers, managers of livestock shows and events, market operators, processing plants, service providers and third parties will all have to provide labour for this system.
By registering with the NAIS you open yourself for future taxes. By registering your car, you pay taxes. By registering yourself as the owner of your home, you pay taxes. By registering yourself with a social security number, you pay taxes. Taxes for being a farmer and taxes on your animals will come, too.
THOSE FOR AND THOSE AGAINST
Tennessee (and probably your state, too) is now implementing the voluntary premises identification section of this plan. In your state you’ll see the Farm Bureau, the cattlemen’s association, and the extension agents lining up. With new government programs comes new government money. They’ll push NAIS compliance by holding out carrots of new money available only to those who register.
CAN WE DEFEAT NAIS?
You bet. There’s still hope we can defeat NAIS.
Dr. Mary Zanoni, a lawyer from New York, has filed official comments with the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) decrying the NAIS. She has also founded an organisation – Farm for Life. In her brilliantly argued statement filed in June 2005, she put this whole scheme in perspective.
“The security of America’s food supply and the resilience of livestock in the face of diseases are best served by decentralising and dispersing food production and processing, and breeding and maintaining livestock. If more citizens could depend on food raised and processed within, say, 100 miles of their homes, the danger of large-scale disruptions would be minimised, the costs of transport would be less affected by volatile fuel prices, and any food-borne diseases … would be contained by the system’s natural geographic limits. Similarly, if animals, such as cattle, for example, are kept in small herds of, say, ten to a hundred animals, infectious diseases will have much more difficulty in spreading beyond a discrete geographical area.
WHAT TO DO?
State cattlemen’s associations may be backing this idea, but chances are their members won’t. Chances are, the members have no idea what’s going on. How many farmers -- not “agribusinessmen” -- have you ever met that would think registering a chicken with the government is a good idea? Talk to them. Encourage them not to sign up their premises. “The USDA is using farmers’ supposed willingness to enter a ‘voluntary’ program as a justification for making the program mandatory,” says Zanoni.
This is the old government game where a pitiful, haggard, selfless government employee pleas to the camera, “Look, all these other farmers have signed up on their own because they’re good Americans and it’s just a few renegades ( read the majority of the population) holding out. If we’re gonna be safe, we’ve got to make this mandatory because we just can’t talk sense to these people who, after all, we’re only trying to protect. It’s for their own good”
But first, educate yourself. Go to www.usda.gov/nais. Click on “Draft Strategic Plan” on the right side of the page under the “What’s New” heading and read the 24 page implementation plan for yourself. (NOTE: A Summary follows in Appendix 2 below.)
-- Justin Sanders
Justin & Franklin Sanders are farmers and precious metals dealers with The Moneychanger in West Point, Tennessee, USA. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
APPENDIX 1 - HARD QUESTIONS
ABOUT THE NATIONAL ANIMAL ID SYSTEM (NAIS)
1. What is the NAIS? A scheme hatched by the federal government and corporate agribusiness to tag every animal in the US with an identity number and to track every animal through processing. The excuse for it is the discovery of two cases of mad cow disease (BSE or bovine spongiform encephalopathy).
2. What does it require? It requires every farm in the country to register as a “premises.” Each registered premises will then have to register & tag every alpaca, bison, cow, emu, goat, horse, llama, sheep, swine, and all poultry. (As far as we know right now, catfish and goldfish are exempted.) It provides no exemptions. If you have as much as one chicken, you must register.
3. What does it mean? This is not about controlling disease, it’s about controlling farmers. When social security was first introduced, the government promised the people that the number would never be used for “identification purposes.” But today you can’t get health care, insurance, a bank account, an apartment, a job, or your tooth pulled without giving a social security number.
4. Isn’t it voluntary? Only for now. The present USDA “Draft Strategic Plan” calls for making it mandatory by January 2008. “Mandatory” means that they will fine, arrest, or jail you if you refuse to comply. For the system to work, the government obviously must force every farm and every farmer to register every animal, and no one will be able to seek veterinary care, transport, sell, or process animals without registry. In other words, the freedom to farm that has belonged to mankind since Creation will be abolished.
5. Who and what is behind the NAIS? According to the USDA National Animal Identification System (NAIS) Draft Strategic Plan 2005 to 2009, page 3, paragraph 1, at http://animalagriculture.org/aboutNIAA/members/memberdirectory.asp, “In 2002, the National Institute of Animal Agriculture (NIAA) initiated meetings that led to the development of the U.S. Animal Identification Plan (USAIP).” “Driving force – The strongest driving force for developing the NAIS is the risk of an outbreak of a foreign animal disease (FAD). There is broad support for NAIS among government, industry, and public stakeholders.” (“Stakeholders are defined as those individuals and groups in the public and private sectors who are interested in and/or affected by the Department's activities and decisions.” http://www.ci.doe.gov/cigapol.htm.)
6. Who is the National Institute of Animal Agriculture? NIAA website states, “The mission of the National Institute for Animal Agriculture is to provide a forum for building consensus and advancing solutions for animal agriculture and to provide continuing education and communication linkages to animal agriculture professionals.” http://animalagriculture.org/aboutNIAA/facts/factsheet.asp. In fact, the NIAA is a national agribusiness organization whose purpose appears to be lobbying government for laws and policies that favour agribusiness. A brief glance at the board of directors seems to confirm that, since all are drawn from agribusiness companies, industry groups, or schools of agriculture (which notoriously favour corporate agribusiness over small farmers and sustainable agriculture). http://animalagriculture.org/aboutNIAA/leadersstaff/BOD.asp. A list of members leads to the same conclusion. http://animalagriculture.org/aboutNIAA/members/memberdirectory.asp.
7. Who will bear the burden of NAIS? Small farmers, and especially those engaged in the New Agriculture (“permaculture” or “sustainable agriculture”). First, they will be forced to pay for NAIS, at least in part. Second, they will be forced to work for NAIS. In the words of the NAIS Draft Strategic Plan, page 14, paragraph 3, “All groups will need to provide labour.” NAIS will add yet another cost disadvantage to small farmers and the New Agriculture, and will make local agriculture less competitive with agribusiness. http://animalagriculture.org/aboutNIAA/members/memberdirectory.asp.
8. Won’t NAIS help prevent and control disease? No, NAIS isn’t about preventing or controlling disease, it’s about marketing. When a case of mad cow disease (or any other disease) surfaces, NAIS aims to protect meat producers’ markets by tracking animals through processing to “prove” that only a few animals are affected and so prevent a public revulsion against their meat. The most effective way to control disease is to produce meat and milk for local instead of national markets and “closed herd” techniques.
National Animal Identification System (NAIS)
The National Animal Identification System is being put into place “to enable 48 hour traceback of the movements of any diseased or exposed animal.”
The NAIS consists of three components:
Premises registration Animal identification Animal tracking
Those putting this into place do not consider you the owner of your animals. Their approach to this is “We must ensure the participation requirements of the NAIS not only provide the results necessary to maintain the health of the national herd …
The government is already encouraging voluntary registration on the radio.
“The USDA…will enact regulations by early 2008, requiring stakeholders to identify their premises and animals. At that time, all animals leaving their current premises must be identified with the AIN or Group/Lot ID.
“ Even with public funding, there will be costs to producers. Both public and private funding will be required for the NAIS to become fully operational. The Federal government is providing the standards, national databases, and basic infrastructure.
States and Tribes will register premises within their areas. They will also support the administration of animal identification and tracking systems that will feed information into the national database. Producers will identify their animals and provide necessary records to the databases. Managers of shows and events will report a record of participating animals. Market operators and processing plants will provide animal location records. Service providers and third parties will assist by providing animal identification and movement records to the NAIS on behalf of their producer clients. All groups will need to provide labour.”
• Premises registration: July 2005: All States operational
• Animal identification: August 2005: Initiate “840” number with AIN tag manufacturers and AIN tag managers
• Animal tracking: January-December 2005: Test identification and automated data collection technologies
• Premises Registration: April 2006: Performance measure: 25% of all premises registered
• Animal identification: April 2006: AIN Management System fully operational
• Animal tracking:
- July 2006: Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (ICVI) operational in all States
- Focus on integration of management systems to forward animal locations/sightings
• Premises registration: April 2007: Premises registration “alert” (scaled up communication campaign to create awareness of January 2008 requirements for premises registration).
• Animal identification: April 2007: Animal identification alert (scaled up communication campaign to create awareness of January 2008 requirements for animal identification).
• Animal tracking:
- April 2007: Incentives to report interstate movements using ICVI or electronic movement permit system.
- October 2007: Infrastructure established to collect animal termination records at high capacity abattoirs.
- Initiate collection of animal movements at concentration points (markets, feedlots, etc.).
- Expand the integration of management systems to forward animal locations/sightings.
NAIS Strategic Plan - DRAFT Lines of Action
• Premises registration: January 2008: All premises registered with enforcement (regardless of livestock movements).
• Animal Identification: January 2008: Animal identification required with enforcement.
• Animal tracking:
- July 2008: Collect high percentage of animal termination
records at abattoirs (processing plants).
- July 2008: Collection and reporting all defined
- January 2009: Enforcement for the reporting of animal
- NAIS fully implemented and all components are mandatory.
Compiled from www.usda.gov/nais click on “Draft Strategic Plan” on right side of the page under “What’s New” heading.
Catherine Austin Fitts is the President of Solari, Inc. http://www.solari.com/. Ms. Fitts is the former Assistant Secretary of Housing-Federal Housing Commissioner during the first Bush Administration, a former managing director and member of the board of directors of Dillon Read & Co. Inc. and President of The Hamilton Securities Group, Inc.