Friday, February 20, 2009

First they came for the free range chickens ...

(I know, not funny.)

A pause for a political vent. This issue is too dear green to post on the cranky blog.
The world of organic oriented folk is waking up to the fact that Big Brother didn't retire to the ranch with George W.

First a little background:
The UN supports organic agriculture (link). Here is a good summary of the global issue of organic farming versus corporate agribusiness as it relates to sustainability.

So what are we doing in America, the land of the free?

Like I've said for ten years now, Monsanto is Satan.
Monsanto bills being rushed through Congress, set to destroy organic farming.
by Linn Cohen-Cole

Learn more here:
Take action link is in top right hand corner of page.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been working for over five years to force a National Animal Identification System (NAIS) onto American animal owners.
NAIS does nothing to improve food safety for consumers or prevent animal diseases. This program is a one-size-fits-all program developed by and for big Agribusiness. NAIS will increase consolidation of our food supply in the hands of a few large companies and put the brakes on the growing movement toward local food systems.

Follow this link to take action today!

Sample letter:
Docket No. APHIS-2007-0096
I urge the USDA to withdraw its proposed rule to implement portions of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), Docket No. APHIS-2007-0096.

The proposed rule mandates the NAIS Premises Identification Number (PIN) as the sole means of identifying properties for USDA animal health purposes. The proposed rule also mandates the use of the NAIS numbering system (i.e. the "840 numbering system") for eartags using official animal identification numbers. Tags using other numbering systems would be required to be linked to a NAIS PIN.

The draft rule is seriously flawed for multiple reasons:

1) Does not substantiate the alleged benefits to animal health. USDA makes general claims about the benefits of identifying locations where animals are kept, but the agency does not address the ability of existing programs to meet this purpose, nor how the proposed rule would improve the capability to identify locations.

2) Ignores the costs and burdens. The proposed rule would substantially increase costs for livestock owners and taxpayers. Costs include the development and maintenance of a massive database; purchase of 840-numbered tags by animal owners; changes by state agencies to make existing programs consistent with the rule; and increased federal government intrusion into the lives and daily activities of farmers and other animal owners.

3) Violates individuals' religious beliefs. Amish, Mennonite, and some other individuals have religious objections to the universal numbering system under NAIS.

4) Creates disincentives for people to seek veterinary care for their animals and participate in existing disease control programs. The proposed rule lists four animal disease programs-tuberculosis , brucellosis, scrapie, and Johne's - and will also impact others. These programs include provisions for veterinary care through vaccinations and testing. Animal owners who object to NAIS may avoid participating in these programs, thereby increasing health risks to the public and farm operations.

5) Adds to the confusion. This rule is the latest in a series of ambiguous and often contradictory documents that the USDA has issued on NAIS. This has created enormous confusion over the intent of the USDA and problems for both animal owners and state agencies.

Moreover, the proposed rule is a significant step towards implementing the entire NAIS program. Thus, the agency should address the fundamental question of whether it should be implementing NAIS at all. In addition to the problems with the draft rule listed above, there are many additional objections to the entire NAIS program:

1) No significant benefits: USDA's assertions that NAIS will provide benefits for animal health are not supported, and actually contradict basic scientific principles.

2) High costs for animal owners and taxpayers: These costs include: (1) the development, maintenance, and update of massive databases; (2) the costs of tags, most of which will contain microchips; (3) the labor burdens for tagging every animal; (4) the paperwork burdens of reporting routine movements; and (5) the costs of enforcement on millions of individuals.

3) Impracticality: The databases to register the properties, identify each animal, and record billions of "events" will dwarf any system currently in existence.

4) Waste of money: The USDA has already spent over $130 million on NAIS implementation, but has yet to develop a workable plan for the program.

5) Diverts resources from more critical needs such as disease testing, disease prevention through vaccination and improved animal husbandry practices, and disease detection in currently uninspected livestock imports.

6) Damage to food safety efforts: NAIS will not prevent foodborne illnesses, such as e. coli or salmonella contamination, because the tracking ends at the time of slaughter. Food safety is better served by focusing on programs such as increased testing for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or Mad Cow), improved oversight of slaughterhouses and food processing facilities, and increased inspections of imported foods. Programs such as the NAIS are unfair burdens for small, organic and sustainable farms.


flowrgirl1 said...

Great post! thanks for the links and info. I will check it all out. Monsanto is the devil!

Alan said...

Thanks, I thought I was the only one in the blotanical world who was livid over NAIS. It is just the start too. There is a law in the works in California that makes all produce traceable (NAIS for tomatoes). Traceability doesn't make the food safer it just makes it easier to put the little guy/girl out of business. Enough ranting from me. This is an issue that is going to bite people in the butt one day. Hopefully we can raise enough awareness to prevent that.