I’m probably the only small farmer/small farm advocate in America with a blog, who has not yet blogged about the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). I imagine that anyone who reads this blog already knows about this. In summary, it is a program designed by federal bureaucrats that will require the registration of every farm animal in America, and detailed reporting about their movements and disposition. It is constructed in such a way to be minimally burdensome for industrial agriculture, but oppressive and unfair to small farmers. It is also an unwarranted violation of our liberty.
NAIS has met with lots of resistance. In response to the outcry, the USDA withdrew its requirement that registration be mandatory, claiming instead that it was merely “voluntary.” But then it made NAIS registration mandatory for participation in things like 4-H and animal auctions and numerous other ways designed to coerce compliance. The lobbyists for industrial agriculture, who want some window dressing to enable them to more effectively market their products in places like Japan, and who are only to happy to roll over small sustainable farms, are pressing to make the measure fully mandatory. Sometimes it seems inevitable that we will all have to surrender to this, or risk federal punishment for the sin of practicing our freedom.
Numerous grassroots organizations have sprung up to oppose Big Brother on NAIS, and a handful of legislators committed to liberty continue their efforts to block it.
One such organization is the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance. Judith McCreary, a small Texas farmer and executive director of the Alliance has noted:
We need to make sure that everyone understands that NAIS is not an effective animal health or food safety program. Most animal health problems are the result of the high-density confined animal feeding operations (CAFO) that concentrate thousands of animals in one location, while food safety problems begin at the slaughterhouse where NAIS traceability ends.
By implementing NAIS, which requires small farmers and ranchers to track each animal individually, while allowing CAFOs to track thousands of animals under one group registration, the USDA would be rewarding factory farms whose practices encourage disease while crippling small farms and the local food movement.
Recent attempts in Congress to block federal funding for NAIS (led by Congressman Ron Paul, who is a champion of the rights of small farmers), have failed. Proceeding under the guise of a “voluntary” program, the USDA has announced its intention to obtain full registration and compliance by 2009.
NAIS is just part of a larger Govco elimination of small farms, under the cover of “food safety.” I’ll have a lot more to say about that soon.
The best way to assure that the food your family eats is safe is to stop the government from driving small farmers out of business, not by empowering the USDA to catalog and control all the farm animals in America, for the benefit of industrial agriculture.