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Friday, December 15, 2006

An Editorial Part II

Continued from>>>

7. AIN devices will not stop theft or
help in the recovery. Tags can
be easily removed or damaged (the above
Aust. Beef Assoc link) Also it
has been become standard knowledge that
RFID tags can be reprogrammed
and even able to carry a virus that will
infect data bases when scanned.

8. NAIS will become Mandatory by the
back door. In the User Guide USDA
stipulates that "Over time, the animal
identification number (AIN) will
become the standard national numbering
system used for unique individual
animal identification for certain species
and/or methods of
identification. USDA is working to
incorporate identification numbers
and devices already in use for animal
health programs." And to buy AIN
numbers (i.e. scrapie program, brucelosis
program) you will need a
premise ID.

9. The access to reports of our farm
business operations through the
reporting of animal movements is something
anticipated by many different
marketing businesses. The USDA will not
"own" the information reports;
it does not want to and will not be
receiving the reports that we as
small operations will be sending in on
animal movements. This
information will be in the hands of
privately owned businesses. No
safeguards or security is mentioned.
This is real-time information on
availability that others with the money
to pay can get. I can think of
several money making benefits for these
records and none increases the
profits of the people who are actually
birthing and raising the animals.

10. In the NAIS user guide it also givens
a new definition of Producer -
"the term producer is used to simplify
the references to all individuals
engaged in the ownership, management
or marketing of livestock included
in NAIS." The word "or" is a legally
important word. Instead of
defining one combined asset it allows
the distinct individual
separation. So marketing is not just
selling animals off the farm but
also includes businesses two or more
steps away for the farm. It allows
the USDA to formulate plans that provide
economic protection for big
marketing companies (people who never come
in contact with animals)
along with and sometimes over people who
actually raise animals.
Because marketing producers have larger
financial 'stakes" at risk than
the small producers.

11. Animal Diseases outbreaks. Everyone
needs to read the government
document GAO-05-214 Protecting against
Agroterrorism. USDA's reactions to such
outbreaks have not been to use
recent advances in Vet treatments and
vaccinations. Instead of dealing
with disease outbreaks in a way that
is most beneficial to the
communities of people who birth and
raise animals it tailors it's
response to benefit marketing agents.
It states in GAO page 31 " Should
USDA officially confirm the presence
of a disease, such as FMD, the
affected herd and all cattle, sheep,
goats, swine, and susceptible
wildlife -infected or not- within a
minimum 10-kilometer zone around
the infected farm would be killed ....
If the disease were to spread
beyond the initial zone, authorities
would continue to quarantine and
kill animals until the disease was stamped
out." The report stated that
this is "precisely the type of high-visibility
destruction that some
experts told us terrorists seek." In other
words this mass kill of
healthy animals is exactly what the terrorist
want. You would think
that the right response to this threat is
to plan a response that stops
this result of terrorist actions - using
quarantines zones with
aggressive treatments (if available depending
on the disease) and
vaccinations of healthy animals. Instead
on page 36 of the GAO "In
place of vaccination, USDA generally prefers
to immediately slaughter
diseased animals because international rules
that the United States and
other countries have agreed to abide by are
designed to prevent trade in
infected or vaccinated animals." (United
Nations and/or World Trade
Organization) What you get with this
attitude is what happened in
Britain. Healthy animals - not infected -
not showing any signs of the
disease being killed because they were
within 6 miles of a sick animal,
and this was done (even though there was
and are vaccinations for FMD)
because marketing companies didn't want
to loose money in exporting
animal by-products. If Animal health
was the USDA's concern it's plan
to react to outbreaks should be using
the most advance Veterinary
sciences not trade agreements.
Point 10 and 11 are made so that you
can better understand point 12

Point 12 The NAIS user guide goes into
little detail about plans for
outbreaks except to talk about the Economic
Benefits of NAIS.
In several places in the guide a lot of
intentional emphasis is placed
on the need to keep international markets
open. Insensitive statements
like "..the faster an animal disease is
isolated, the sooner life gets
back to normal." Markets return to normal
but even the USDA recognizes
that entire communities will be effected
and livelihoods destroyed;
there is no return to normal (ask the
farmers affected in Britain).
The guide says "--the time it takes to
contain and control or eradicate
the disease is the key factor that determines
the economic losses and
other social harms." This is my biggest
objection. TIME is not the
Key, you need to replace the word 'time'
with the METHOD. You can do
complete reporting of movements within
24-48 hrs and still be two weeks
or more LATE. There is an incubation period
before any disease where
animals are infected but don't show the
With the Method as the key factor there
is not a need for NAIS. Farm
communities will come together and get
the job if they know there is a
future for them and that means keeping
the health animals alive and stop
worrying about the time. Pages 2, 3, 8,
11 and 12 of the user guide
tries to but the best light on the need
for NAIS as an animal health
issue until you put the statements in the
light of reality and then it
indicates that the USDA will take a very
confrontational attitude
towards people with animals.
The biggest economical benefit for NAIS
is the companies selling the
tags, tag equipment accessories, along
with the computer software and
hardware associated with NAIS. Doing
the math for the nation - on just
the slaughter livestock according to
the 2005 NASS of USDA - 32,535,000
cows, 770,000 calves, 103,691,000 hogs
and 2,761,000 sheep giving a
total of
139,757,000 animals in 2005 (approximate
yearly average for most years)
if all of this animals required AIN tags
that would mean a dollar value
of $419,271,000 in tags and that would not
include all tagged animals or
the failed tags that require retagging for
what ever reason (remember
30% fail rate reported by Aust Beef Assoc.)

Point 13 - What regulations that we as a
country allow to be
implemented will effect other farmers Globally
because we set the
standard (or in schoolyard term 'NAIS is going
to screw up the Curve.'
) If we set a standard so high that poorer
countries will be guaranteed
to fail resulting in extremely lower prices
for their products. Even
the WTO recognizes what will happen when they
set their standard so high
for agriculture programs (its' recommendation
when faced with this was
to increase food bank supplies not change the
programs!). The USDA
needs to tell the international organizations
that made up these harmful
regulations to change them!!!

Point 14 - Religious reasons against NAIS is
very personal and usually
only Christians have become public. (Though
I would think people in
India would have some religious objections
to tagging animals but I am
not familiar with these) The Amish as already
noted have convictions
against NAIS. Personally I believe that the
bible does not say what the
mark of the beast will be but it does indicate
what it's effects are
-unable to buy and sale. For that reason I
believe that NAIS is a
foundation stone for an evil system. This does
mean for my farm that we
can not be involved in NAIS and that I must
speak out against it.
Since the Scrapie program has become mandatory,
with recent indications
that it will start to limit market available
along with soon to be
linked with NAIS (see the NAIS Sheep working
group report) I have
removed our farm from the scrapie certification

I will end my piece on NAIS with one final note.
The American Romney
Breeders Association (ARBA) has posted on its
website that is it for a
National Animal Identification System.
The Website statement uses
wording that is very similar if not verbatim
of USDA remarks on
objections against NAIS. I am hoping that
this decision to take a
public stand for all members of the registry
was done with good
intentions by the board (at earlier meetings
this year) before
grassroots efforts to fight NAIS started to
pick up steam.
IMO-I don't believe any registry should come
out for or against any
program sponsored by the government (provide
information yes! but not a
public stand on issues that can cause divisions
without first polling
the membership) I have brought this up by email
to the Pres, Vice-Pres,
Sec, and two other people assigned to report back
to the board on NAIS.
Such a statements indicates that the Association
may allow the USDA to
data-mine information out of ARBA records without
members consent.
(There are Cattle registries that are voluntarily
giving member
information and reporting sales (movements) of
animals to states which
are implementing Mandatory programs. A Goat registry
that has recently
indicated that the USDA only needs to ask (without
using legal channels)
to get member information), While I don't expect
ARBA to refuse lawful
searches that come with the proper legal documentation,
I am expecting
it to set standards on what information of its members
it will and will
not voluntarily share with anyone. This is a statement
or guideline I
would like to see put in the ARBA By-laws.


Marsh Mellow Meadows
Marsh Romney Sheep
Southwest Louisiana

Do you understand how wide the kill zone is? And that it will
include healthy animals? ~Phelan


farmer, vet and feeder of all animals said...

I don't think people do understand the kill zone and that it will effect ALL animals. Farm, regular and wild. Just how will they kill all wild birds in a 6.5 mile area if bird flu breaks out? And what will it look like if they do?

Phelan said...

A nerve agent would be my guess. And how do you track the wild birds that brought the flu and then moved on. You just follow each out break, killing all the animals in a 6 mile radious.

The kill zone, the killing of all animals, healthy or not, is the scariest aspect of this whole thing. Besides lack of privicy.

The Fool said...

As always...thanks for the info. I'll be sure to pass it on to others.

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