Walter Jeffries of Sugar Mountain Farm left an important comment on my last post about NAIS. Basically, the government is trying to implement a mandatory animal identification and tracking system, on the argument that they need to be able to track outbreaks among animals. Which sounds reasonable enough. But the system, as currently proposed, is quite simply insane. Everyone who keeps even a single livestock animal - just one chicken or pig - would be required to register the animal with the government, The animal would then be assigned an ID number and possibly a tracking microchip. All movements of the animal off of the farm would be required to be reported. Veterinarians would be required to report unregistered animals. And it goes on and on.
How is this evil? Let me count the ways. Food prices in general would rise. Small farmers would be put out of business. It would become even more difficult for people to raise their own food. The winners would be the people who have caused a lot of the problems with safety in the food supply to begin with: Big Agriculture and their factory farms.
You really have to read the proposed plan to believe it, because NAIS sounds for all the world like something made up on the internet. So, while I'm getting together my thoughts on my dinner party for posting later, go here: http://animalid.aphis.usda.gov/nais/index.shtml
and be amazed.
(If you would prefer a good review, there's one here: http://www.dailykos.com/tag/NAIS)
There has been almost no media attention to NAIS, which is a good thing for the USDA. This plan has something to offend everyone. Small government conservatives don't like the interference of government in personal property. Nutty-crunchy foodie types don't like the attack on local organic farms. Some religious groups don't like the use of identification numbers or certain technologies. Of course, small farmers have everything to lose. And there's plenty to offend animal-rights activists, libertarians, chefs, 4H Club members, anyone concerned with the future of rural and small town America, and Martha-Stewart readers who want their own blue-egg-laying chickens. A powerful coalition could be developed here, if people get the word out. Do your part.