The National Animal Identification System is on the way. Haven't heard of it? It's an initiative by the USDA, agribusiness, and microchip-making companies to require the tagging of every animal to include cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry, rabbits, camelids, horses, and farmed fish. It's being implemented on the state level, with some states already mandating compliance. The database probably will be "privatized" which means very little privacy protection for you and your data. What's in the database, you ask?
Contact name, address, and phone number for the "premises" on which the animals reside, or the same information for any site where animals may "commingle", such as vet's offices, and fairgrounds. Further, the GPS coordinates of each such premise must be provided. Any animal movement on or off a registered premise must be provided to the government within 24 hours. Take your horse on a trail-ride? Don't forget to let the government know. Take your chickens to the fair? Both you and the fair must report the movement of your chickens. How is this accomplished? Each animal recieves a unique animal identification number (AIN), which is connected in the database to the unique premises identification number (PIN). Groups of animals that live together their whole lives from birth to slaughter (for example, pigs or broilers on production farms) may be assigned a group identification number (GIN) instead of individual numbers. So large producers are essentially spared much of the labor and tag buying that smaller producers will have to do in order to track individual animals. Very convenient for them.
It's basically governmental surveillance of private property on a massive scale. Does it trample on our rights? Of course. But so few people know about it that relatively few alarms have been raised.
Who is going to pay for it? The USDA says that producers will have to "share costs". Uh huh. No one is really able to say though what the costs will be. Is there going to be a fee for reporting animals movements to the tracking database? No one has said. What about the fee to obtain a PIN? Can you say "license to farm"? I knew you could. Whenever the government requires you to apply for something and pay a fee to be allowed to do it, they then have given themselves the ability to *deny* you the right to do that thing. You have to get a license to drive a car right? No license, no driving. Or if you do, you can be fined or spend time in the pokey. If your livelihood is based on raising livestock, but you have to get your PIN from the government in order to do this, you are at their mercy.
The claim is that we need this system to prevent and track future disease outbreaks within 48 hours of the reporting of a given disease. Well, the system will do exactly nothing to prevent a disease outbreak. How can it? Will they be able to track where an animal was and what other animals it contacted? Probably. But this could be done (and has been done) with our current systems. And what is the point of tracking a cow infected with BSE (mad cow disease) over the last 48 hours? She contracted the disease years ago. And even if the NAIS worked perfectly, would this justify subjecting millions of citizens to increased costs, paperwork, and invasion of privacy? No.
They say we need the system in order to assure overseas consumers that our products are safe. But at the same time they say we have the safest food in the world. Well, which is it? I say that if producers want to voluntarily enter such a system because they believe it will open more overseas markets, fine and dandy. Let those who want to participate do so, and let the rest of us alone.
We are, by the way, participating in the Voluntary Scrapie Program. Key word: voluntary. And we don't have to pay a fee yearly or risk having agents descend to impose fines for non-compliance or threaten to seize our animals. We can opt out at any time if we wish.
Read for yourself:
And a good proposal for revision of NAIS can be seen here: