Animal ID Plan Punishes Backyard, Urban & Small Organic Growers
By Jim PathFinder Ewing
It’s hard to believe that the U.S. government is attempting to force animal identification on farmers again.
But as the Cornucopia Institute has pointed out (http://www.cornucopia.org/2012/06/5385/), the U.S. Department of Agriculture is resurrecting the proposed national animal identification rule that many thought dead due to massive outcry a year ago.
The rule would subject cattle and poultry owners across the country to new tagging and paperwork requirements that could collectively cost hundreds of millions of dollars, as Cornucopia points out, yet the USDA has designated the final rule it’s proposing as “not economically significant.”
Huh? Small poultry and livestock farmers would be unfairly and tremendously burdened by the cost of this regulation. Many likely would be put out of business or young farmers or beginners decide that the regulatory burden was too much to start. And this is for a problem (tracking diseased animals) that is overwhelmingly the result of large confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), not small farmers.
It’s more of a blow to the local food movement than a “solution” to giant industrial farming abuses in the food system. In fact, it seems designed to specifically target and deter small farmers, backyard farmers, and urban farmers. Why? Because it requires extensive documentation and ear tags or expensive transponders with electronic chips implanted for each animal — goat, horse, pig, chicken — for them, while whole herds are treated as one animal for CAFOs (no fuss, no bother!).
These records are for any and all animals, except dogs and cats, but including cervids. If for any reason, a tag or ID device is removed (like, the animal died), it and its documentation must be kept for five years! If you think doing your income taxes each year is fun, add keeping records for your goat and backyard chickens — including those carried off by a fox, died of natural causes, or you ate. Regarding the rest of your flock, you won’t be able to sell them unless they have documentation, and you cannot buy animals without documentation, you cannot transport your animals without documentation and documentation about you and your records are kept on state and national registries to ensure compliance. (Maybe they ought to call it the national small farmer ID system!)
There are more regulations here for owning a chicken than for owning a gun!
Happy Easter, little Johnny or Sue, here’s your baby chick! …. And here’s the 29 pages in the Federal Register of regulations that go with it!
This proposed regulation fails for a number of reasons:
— It would make outlaws of most backyard poultry owners and small farmers who mix birds with their neighbors and grow their own flocks.
— It’s at odds with a government trying to cut costs, for taxpayers, businesses and consumers.
— It would be an “unfunded mandate” for states to track animals, adding regulatory staffs and paperwork even as they are cutting essential services like firefighters, police and schoolteachers to make ends meet.
— It would add red tape and expense to every step from farm to fork but mostly financially punish those who aren’t the problem — and act as a regulatory block and deterrent to new small businesses.
Small farmers everywhere — and the organizations that represent them — must join to block this unnecessary and damaging potential regulation.
Note, this is not legislation that can be voted on; it’s a proposed executive order that, unless stopped, likely will go into effect with the signature of the president’s pen.
Contact your senator or representative. Surely, reason must prevail to stop this regulation.
For more, see the Cornucopia Institute — www.cornucopia.org.
Or, The Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance — http://farmandranchfreedom.org/Animal-ID-2011
Read the proposed rule at: www.aphis.usda.gov/traceability/downloads/2011/Proposed%20Rule.pdf
Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook: http://bit.ly/cuxUdc or follow him @edibleprayers or @organicwriter or visit blueskywaters.com.