Posts Tagged USDA Not Trustworthy

Congress allocates less for National Animal ID

by George Lauby (North Platte Bulletin) – 10/4/2009

Bill Bullard - Photo by George Lauby

Bill Bullard - Photo by George Lauby

A conference committee in Congress has decided to fund the controversial National Animal Identification System for another year to the tune of $5.3 million.
That will be a significant reduction from previous years, but does not placate opponents of the still floundering, five-year-old program.

“We’re disappointed with the decision,” said Bill Bullard, the chief executive of the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund.

Bullard was in North Platte Saturday at a convention of the Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska. R-CALF USA, ICON and 91 other groups asked Congress to eliminate the funds.

The critics say existing livestock records, such as brands, ear tags, veterinary logs and auction barn records do a good job of tracking cattle movements. USDA inspections at the borders are important to disease prevention, they say.

For instance, U.S. cattle have been free of foot and mouth disease since the 1920s. Another disease, brucellosis, has been largely prevented. If an occasional case appears, it is closely monitored and controlled.

In June, Nebraska and federal officials jumped on a single case of cattle tuberculosis in the northeast part of the state. To date 11,800 head have been tested, with no positive cases.

“The USDA is going from disease prevention to disease monitoring,” a speaker at the ICON convention said.

The program is voluntary, but state and federal authorities have urged it on and said inevitably every livestock owner will take part. The program is known as the “Locate in 48” program. The goal is to track a disease outbreak to the source herd within 48 hours.

But one speaker at the convention said, “If there ever is an outbreak of foot-and-mouth, no one would wait 48 hours to take action. They’d be on it right away.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee had approved $14.6 million for the NAIS program, the amount requested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but the House allocated nothing.

The appropriation is part of the Agriculture appropriations bill.

Bullard said the $5.3 million could shore up the program where it is less expensive and cumbersome, such as in factory-style hog, poultry and cattle feeding operations.

Congress has appropriated $142 million for the national animal identification system since it began in 2004. The USDA has registered only 35 percent of animal premises.

Last year, the USDA got $14.2 million to run the program, but registrations increased by only three percent.

The North Platte Bulletin – Published 10/4/2009
Copyright © 2009 northplattebulletin.com – All rights reserved.
Flatrock Publishing, Inc. – 1300 E 4th St., Suite F – North Platte, NE 69101

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NAIS Non-Compliance Trial Update

NAIS Non-Compliance Trial Update
Please Broadcast

Emmanuel Miller, Jr., of Wisconsin, is the first American to have been tried for NAIS non-compliance, on Wednesday September 23.  Wisconsin requires NAIS “premises” registration and many farmers, including Emmanuel Miller, Jr., have refused to comply. Pat Monchilovich, another who refused, goes to trial in October.

This is an enormous historic event, and a pivotal moment in the anti-NAIS movement.  Read Paul Griepentrog’s first hand report on the trial:
http://ppjg.wordpress.com/2009/09/27/the-lost-people-part-ii/

Further Information:
Paul Griepentrog Phone: 715.762.1875  Email: skfarms@centurytel.net

Paul Griepentrog, Wisconsin farmer and Vice-President of Wisconsin Independent Consumers and Farmers Association (www.WICFA.org), filed an amicus brief on Miller’s behalf and attended the trial.

We will continue to post updates.

Yours for freedom,
Deborah Stockton, Executive Director
National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association (NICFA)
nicfa@earthlink.net
www.NICFA.org

National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association
Our purpose is to promote and preserve unregulated direct farmer-to-consumer trade
that fosters availability of locally grown or home-produced food products..
NICFA opposes any government funded or managed National Animal Identification System.

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Wyoming withdraws from NAIS

Livestock Board returns $140,000.00 in federal funds

Cheyenne — Wyoming

Livestock Board members, meeting in Cheyenne Aug. 21, voted to abandon their agreement to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in implementing its National Animal Identification System (NAIS).

According to agency director Jim Schwartz, the agreement amounted to $140,000 in grant money.

Schwartz says the decision by the board resulted in the agency’s lost ability to utilize those funds in developing what some had hoped would be a state-level program.

“I had signed the contract,” says Schwartz, “but hadn’t spent anything.” It’s now a matter of sending the money back. Asked if other states are taking similar measures, he says most see this year’s disbursement as the last they’ll be offered and aren’t refusing the funds. Congress, citing expenditures surpassing adequate progress, is amidst debates on the future of NAIS funding. If funding continues, it will likely be at a much-reduced rate. Many believe the whole animal ID issue is dead.

Gillette rancher and veterinarian Eric Barlow brought the resolution to reject the NAIS agreement. “After reviewing the work document which outlined what we would do with the money,” says Barlow, “it did not appear to me to be building on a national program or being used to establish or fortify any program the WLSB has implemented.”

Barlow says that some members expressed hope the funds could be used in advancing the agency’s computerization efforts. “Maybe we could have, if that’s what we would have asked for,” says Barlow. “Either someone didn’t ask for that or USDA rejected it.” Barlow says the way he read the plan of work the money would have been used to register premises, educate producers on NAIS and hire staff for a six-month period for the purpose of doing those things.

Brent Larson of Laramie and Liz Philp of Shoshoni, sheep producer representatives on the board, were the two dissenting votes to the resolution.

Larson says while he doesn’t support NAIS, he did see the opportunity to use the dollars to advance Wyoming’s programs. He wanted the agency to seek amendments to its agreement with the USDA on how the dollars would have been spent.

“I thought we could make it work for us,” says; Larson. “Why not rework the plan and use the; $140,000 to build something that would work for Wyoming?” Something that would be worthwhile?

Without the $140,000 grant the Wyoming NAIS Director’s employment would possibly not be funded.

Appreciating the need to preserve the market-ability of Wyoming livestock, Barlow says he suggested that staff form a working group, including; industry representatives, to look at existing programs and how they can serve as the underpinning of a Wyoming-based program.

Larson, given the $800,000 in budget cuts the agency took earlier this year, isn’t sure where the money for a state-level program will come from. It would have been good to keep the USDA grant if it had true value to help Wyoming livestock producers. The board voted to give it all back due to too many negative strings attached.

Quotes provided by Jennifer Womack, managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to roundup@wylr.com.

Note: WYOMING REFUSES TO BE BOUGHT! Congratulations to Wyoming!! NAIS has provided generous funding for USDA offices in every state with minimal oversight in regard to premises enrollment.

States joining Wyoming have received the following “grant” funds not including 2009 funding: Colorado $4,896,995; Idaho $4,242,645; Kansas $3,882,270; Montana $2,110,256; Nebraska $3,749,005; South Dakota $3,155,907.

Although Wyoming has repented of their latest “grant,” funds, their hands are not totally clean. During 2002 to 2008 they have deposited from USDA a total of $2,054,538.

Pledging to enroll producers in the NAIS program, the Wyoming effort was costing $1,119 per premise sign up. However, if Wyoming did a good job, USDA projected future funding would allow them to harvest another $7,151,717 additional.

Wyoming is to be honored by their own livestock producers and other states for setting the example of refusing NAIS demands. The strings attached by USDA appeared to be hanging nooses to ranchers in Wyoming, and many others agree.

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Stuck on Stupid – (USDA)

PPJG original post. Author: Marti Oakley © August 22, 2009 4:23 pm cst

This is such a crock even I can’t believe it.  This is the actual public statement by USDA claiming they heard substantial support for NAIS/Premises ID.  What were these people smoking?

getimage~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Officials with the Department of Agriculture said they heard

substantial support for animal disease traceability during a series of

public meetings but many animal owners indicated concerns. Cost,

privacy, bureaucracy, liability in the event of a disease outbreak,

and the religious implications of such animal identification are

behind ongoing opposition to the department’s National Animal

Identification System.”

Those guys at the USDA are such jokers! And, after reading this press release from Wisconsin, the Wisconsin AG department must be in on the joke. The USDA listening sessions, each having been taped, shows that an estimated 95% of those attending were vehemently opposed to any such plan as the National Animal Identification System/Premises ID plans.

This small announcement has been picked up in various places but Wisconsin is one of those three test states that took cooperative agreement funding (bribery) to implement Premises Id through the state legislature.  Wisconsin is now preparing to go into Phase 2, NAIS.

Did I mention that Wisconsin wasn’t included in the listening session tours?  I wonder why?

It must have come as quite a shock to USDA representatives to be confronted with the high numbers of independent and family producers who showed up for each and every one of these sessions in every state where they were held.  I say this because for the most part USDA reps stuttered and stammered and had a look about them as if they were about to face the gallows. Then to have these same participants, whom the USDA was sure would be awed simply by its presence, whom the USDA was sure were just dumb farmers and ranchers who didn’t know anything, stand up and pointedly and with knowledge explain that they knew, what the intent of these programs really were and what it would do to their operations, must have been a frightening experience for them.

Nothing is worse than the realization that you have seriously underestimated your opponent and the obvious misconceptions you had about them.

In fact, if USDA is that confused about what took place at these “listening sessions” and the “breakout sessions” meant to steer those simple minded rural folk into thinking or believing that NAIS/Premises ID was a good idea, You Tube is loaded with videos documenting the public anger and outrage over this attempt to run them out of business.

The only “substantial support” the USDA can truthfully claim was from the hired security guards that stood between them and the people they feared most:  The farmers and ranchers they intend to put out of business on behalf of industrialized corporate agriculture, and international interests.

Just a side note:

The Pork Producers, Farm Bureau, and Dairy Industry via national organizations gave token support for the program; each of them listed as campaign donors to many of the politicians in the Ag Department.

Many of the larger producers most of whom belong to national organizations, speaking on behalf of members (who had no real idea of the impact this would have on their operations and many of whom are still in a state of shocked numbness,) claimed they needed NAIS to protect the security of their Industry.  Ironic how the dairy and pork folks have their hands out for cooperative agreement funds (bribes) and many have signed MOU’s (memoranda of understanding) with the USDA.  I wonder how these organizations will explain to their members how the government’s involvement in their industry was the cause of their financial problems to begin with…and they knew it.

USDA: You jackasses did NOT hear any substantial support for this ill advised plan.  What you did hear was the growing backlash against government takeover of agriculture.

Did I mention that Tom Vilsack never made an appearance?  Neither did Collin Peterson (D) MN, head of the Agriculture Committee in the US HOUSE who swore after the March AG meeting he would have NAIS mandatory by December 31 of this year.  Now you would have thought these two guys would have been out pitching their plan. Maybe they were busy those days; probably having lunch with those good old boys from Monsanto or some corporate lobbyist looking to make a buck……or spend one.

(C) copyright 2009  Marti Oakley


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USDA Doesn’t Respond

USDA Doesn’t Respond, or Responds Inadequately, to Specific Questions

About Agency’s Authority to Require Premises Registration

Billings, Mont. — As promised, R-CALF USA has launched a 12-day blitz of news releases to explain in detail many of the reasons our members oppose the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) National Animal Identification System (NAIS).

With this effort, R-CALF USA hopes to bring to light many of the dangerous aspects associated with NAIS with regard to invasion-of-privacy issues, the likely acceleration of the ongoing exodus of U.S. cattle producers from the industry, as well as other concerns we believe USDA has not even begun to ponder. Click here to view the entire 13-pages of formal comments R-CALF USA submitted to the agency on Aug. 3, 2009, to, yet again, oppose the implementation of NAIS.

In the fifth installment of our NAIS Opposition Blitz, we inform readers that on Dec. 5, 2008, R-CALF USA sent USDA 10 specific written questions concerning the agency’s authority to require the registration of “premises” for each U.S. cattle producer and the ramifications therefrom. (Visit http://www.r-calfusa.com/animal_id/081204-RCALFLetterToUSDAReNAIS&PremisesRegistration.pdf to see this letter to USDA.)

The agency did not respond to several of those questions and did not respond adequately to the few questions it did address in subsequent communications to R-CALF USA (Visit http://www.r-calfusa.com/animal_id/081204-RCALFLetterToUSDAReNAIS&PremisesRegistration.pdf to see the agency’s response.)

Because U.S. cattle producers deserve to know the exact source of authority that USDA claims to have to implement NAIS, as well as the full ramifications of the NAIS program itself, R-CALF USA again requests that USDA provide a detailed response to each of the following questions:

1. What is the specific authority that grants USDA the power to register personal real property as a premises without prior consent, power of attorney in fact, or by persons lacking legal age or capacity?

2. Does registration of real property as a premises become a permanent assignment to the affected property?

3. Does registration of real property as a premises constitute a burden or encumbrance on the affected property?

4. Does registration of real property as a premises alter, impair, diminish, divest, or destroy allodial title of land patentees, or heirs or assigns?

5. Does registration of real property as a premises constitute a taking as defined in the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?

6. Will those affected by premises registration of real property be compensated for any taking, in what amount, by what standard of evaluation, and what frequency?

7. Does an agency memorandum, on premises registration of real property, stand as an act of law?

8. Where, by an Act of Congress as legislated within the bounds of Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, has USDA been given authority to register real property as a premises or otherwise implement the National Animal Identification System?

9. Where in the U.S. Constitution is USDA given authority to register real property as a premises or otherwise implement the National Animal Identification System?

10. Will future land title and use of private real property be impacted by implementation of the National Animal Identification System, resulting in further Federal regulation or authority?

# # #

R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on trade and marketin! g issues. Members are located across 47 states and are primarily cow/calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and/or feedlot owners. R-CALF USA directors and committee chairs are extremely active unpaid volunteers. R-CALF USA has dozens of affiliate organizations and various main-street businesses are associate members. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.

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Controlling E. coli in hamburger requires “meat ID” not animal ID

Daryll E. Ray and the Agricultural Policy Analysis Center, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN

July 24, 2009

Food safety has been getting a lot of attention lately. In response to the peanut butter, pistachio, and toll house cookie recalls, the House Energy and Safety Committee has approved the Food Safety Enforcement Act of 2009 to strengthen and expand the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) role in food safety and inspection. To gauge the response of the agricultural community, the House Agriculture Committee held a hearing on this legislation.

At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a White House Food Safety Group was formed by the Obama administration. In July 2009, the Working Group recommended “a new, public health-focused approach to food safety based on three core principles: (1) prioritizing prevention; (2) strengthening surveillance and enforcement; and (3) improving response and recovery”

(http://www.foodsafetyworkinggroup.gov/FSWG_Fact_Sheet.pdf).

In all this, major-crop and livestock farmers are worried that the move toward increased emphasis on food safety will lead to the FDA inspection of farms as part of its role in protecting the integrity of the food ingredients that are produced by farmers. Many involved in beef production are resistant to an animal identification system that would allow traceback to the farm-level.

At the same time, the meat industry, having freed itself from a government-directed inspection through the use of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point program (HACCP), wants to prevent a move back to a greater government involvement in the inspection of meat and meat products.

When considering issues of major importance to a sector—which this one definitely is in the case of agriculture—the rhetoric sometimes out-distances the the reality of the arguments made and fears generated.

In the case of E. coli in beef, there is nothing that cattlemen can or cannot do that will materially affect the probability of E. coli showing up in your hamburger. There is some evidence that taking cattle off the feedlot for a period of time and putting them on pasture prior to slaughter reduces the level but does not eliminate the presence of E. coli and therefore its potential for contamination. So there is no reason for the FDA to use valuable resources to visit cattle ranches or feeding operations as part of “beefing-up” prevention of E. coli contamination from beef.

Since what happens on ranches and feedlots has no effect on whether beef ultimately becomes contaminated with E. coli, traceback to production agriculture—that is, an animal identification system—is not needed to protect consumers from E. coli.

That is not to say that an animal ID program is, or is not, appropriate for other reasons. Recent arguments for animal traceback are primarily concerned with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (Mad Cow disease). While that may be an important issue, it is unrelated to the E. coli discussion.

Traceback is required, of course, but it is MEAT traceback that is needed, not animal traceback.

Meat traceback is needed because E. coli O157:H7 grows in the gut of beef animals, the food safety issue concerns the prevention of the contamination of slaughtered meat from sources like intestines and hides.

When E. coli O157:H7 is found in ground beef or on beef muscle meat surfaces, the problem is one that originates at the packing plant. Since the institution of the HACCP system in meat inspection, the USDA has focused its enforcement at downline facilities that process boxed beef into hamburger and resisted tracing the contamination back to the packing plant that produced the boxed beef.

The USDA has done this despite the knowledge that a processing facility that does no slaughtering lacks a source of E. coli O157:H7. The most likely source of the E. coli is on the surface of meat that came in from the slaughterhouse, thus the need for meat traceback.

The rhetoric of those speaking for meat packers and processors tend to steer attention away from the central issue. James Hodges of the American Meat Institute Foundation makes statements like “No outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 have been linked to whole muscle cuts like steaks and roasts.” Similarly, the North American Meat Processors Association (NAMP) sent out a 2008 NewsFax release saying “NAMP knows of no illness that has resulted from the consumption of intact beef product.”

The issue is not the consumption of steaks, roasts, and intact beef product. Everyone acknowledges that heating the outside of those products to 160 degrees kills E. coli 0157:H7. Rather the problem comes from the fact that the presence of E. coli O157:H7 on the surface of primals is not considered an adulterant. That presence raises the opportunity for cross contamination with other foods or the incorporation of E. coli present on the surface of intact cuts into ground beef.

Cutting through the rhetoric, it seems clear that the USDA can significantly reduce the number of E. coli illnesses by declaring E. coli O157:H7 on the surface of primals to be a contaminant that must be eliminated as part of the slaughtering process and by instituting a meat traceback system that will trace contaminated ground beef back to the packing plant that provided it.

Daryll E. Ray holds the Blasingame Chair of Excellence in Agricultural Policy, Institute of Agriculture, University of Tennessee, and is the Director of UT’s Agricultural Policy Analysis Center (APAC). Daryll Ray’s column is written with the research and assistance of Harwood D. Schaffer, Research Associate with APAC.

agpolicy.org

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Small Farmer Warns “HR2749 Will Put Me Out of Business”

Artisan Cheese from Pugs Leap Farm May Disappear if Food Safety Bill Passes

Pugs Leap Does

Pugs Leap Does

by Pascal Destandau of Pugs Leap Farm

Eric Smith and I own and operate a small diversified farm in Sonoma County, at Pugs Leap Farm we milk twenty seven goats by hand and make cheeses we sell at local farmers markets in Sonoma, Marin, Alameda and San Francisco. We have a few chickens and sell the eggs at the markets. In the next few years we hope to take to the markets the fruits and nuts from the orchards we planted. We also grow onions, garlics, chards, salad greens, tomatoes, corn, squash, strawberry and culinary herbs. We intend to add a few beehives next year.

HR2749 (The Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009) which is currently making its way rapidly through the House of Representative will put us out of business.

HR2749 calls for:

a yearly registration with the FDA with a $500 fee

full HACCP plan for every type of produce sold or processed, for us that mean one plan for the dairy, one one for cheese making, one for transporting and retailing at the market, one for the fruits and vegetables, and another one for the nuts

FDA approved methods by which crops are raised and harvested. The most likely outcome will be along the lines of the leafy green ordinance, scorched earth and exclusion of any wildlife.

I have twenty two years experience in research and development and in technical operations, at a managerial level, in the pharmaceutical and personal care products industry. I therefore know very well the resources

Dry Creek Valley

Dry Creek Valley

needed to create and maintain a full HACCP plan. Creating one plan would take me about 100 hours and maintaining it would take 2 hours per day of production. Based on quotes I obtained in 2006 for laboratory testing, I estimate that I would need to budget $15,000/year just for the microbiological testing of the cheeses. The International Dairy Food Association (IDFA) has published some guidelines for HACCP which were used by the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS) when it developed a voluntary dairy HACCP program in parallel with the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO). To follow those guidelines I will have to start testing every batch of milk for drug residues, I will also have to tests for pesticide residues and mycotoxins. I am still in the process of researching what amount of testing will be needed for compliance and it is still unclear if I will be allowed to do my own testing or if I’ll need to send samples to a certified laboratory. This will be decided when the regulations are written.

Stopping feeding cattle a high grain diet would be much more efficient than an HACCP plan to eliminate E. Coli O157:H7 from our meat supply. The same for silage and Listeria. The practice of feeding antibiotics for faster weight gain has been linked to the presence of antibiotic resistant strains of salmonella in chicken, turkey, beef and pork. Recently MRSA has been found in pork meat.

The enforcement of HACCP plan for all food producers will do nothing to address those problems. Furthermore HACCP plans are very industry friendly and rely on self regulation and self regulation does not work. For example in 2006 from January to June, Cadbury knowingly shipped products tainted with salmonella; Cadbury’s defense is that the levels in the chocolate were too low to cause illness.

On July seven the White House appointed Michael R. Taylor Advisor to FDA Commissioner. The press release mention that it is his third appointment at the FDA and that Taylor will work to:

Assess current food program challenges and opportunities

Identify capacity needs and regulatory priorities

Develop plans for allocating fiscal year 2010 resources

Develop the FDA’s budget request for fiscal year 2011

Plan implementation of new food safety legislation.

The press release failed to mention Mr. Taylor connections with Monsanto.

Mr. Taylor began at the FDA in 1976 as a litigating attorney, he left to join King & Spalding where Monsanto was his personal client regarding food labeling and regulatory issues.. He returned to the FDA as Deputy Commissioner for Policy from 1991 to 1994, overseeing FDA’s policy development and rulemaking, including the implementation of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act and issuance of new seafood safety rules. This was a new position created for him and he instantly became the FDA official with the greatest influence on GM food regulation, overseeing the development of government policy. He was part of the team that issued the very industry-friendly policy on food biotechnology and that approved the use of Monsanto’s genetically engineered growth hormone in dairy cows. He introduced the the concept of substantial equivalence as an appropriate method for determining safety. This is the basis for the lack of safety testing and the non labeling of GMO containing food. The same concept was used to prevent dairy products to be labeled as rBGH free.

Cutting the Goat Cheese

Cutting the Goat Cheese

Mr. Taylor left the FDA in 1994 for the USDA. In 1996 he went back to King & Spalding and in 1998 he was appointed vice president of Public Policy by Monsanto.

I am very concerned that Mr. Taylor will use his position to issue very tech heavy, industry friendly regulations that will place an unbearable burden on small producers and family farms.

Food safety is compromised by industrial farming practices not by sustainable farming. The cost of cheap food has been food safety. My personal check list for food safety is: no GMO, no trans fat, no high fructose corn syrup, no food colorants, no artificial flavors, no rBGH, no meat, eggs or dairy from CAFO’s. The short version is do not eat anything with a bar code.

Size based regulations are possible. In the new FDA egg safety regulations producers with less than 3,000 laying hen are exempt, producers with more than 3,000 but less than 50,000 have 36 months to comply, producers with more than 50,000 have 12 months to comply.

We do need farmers and consumers to start writing to your House Representative and request that HR 2749 include similar exemptions and provisions.

This post is part of Fight Back Friday’s on Food Renegade blog, see more ideas for food activism here.

This post is also part of Food Roots sustainability blog Carnival on Nourishing Days blog, trace your food roots here!

This post is also part of Real Food Wednesday blog carnival on KellytheKitchenkop.com, check out more foodie stuff here!

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The Amazing Failure of NAIS

Written by Harlan Hentges

Thursday, 23 July 2009 14:38

About the Author

Mr. Hentges is a 1992 graduate of the University of Texas with a juris doctorate from the School of Law and a Master of Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. He is a 1987 graduate of Oklahoma State University with a bachelor of science in agricultural economics.

He is admitted to practice law in the States of Oklahoma and Texas and the Federal District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. He is a member of the Oklahoma Bar Association, the Oklahoma County Bar Association and the American Agricultural Law Association.

Mr. Hentges’s legal practice is concentrated in agricultural law, civil litigation, Endangered Species Act, eminent domain and appellate law.

Phone: (405) 340 6554

Harlan Hentges P. L. L. C.

1015G Waterwood Parkway Ste F1

Edmond, OK 73034

The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) would have gathered and introduced a huge amount of new data into the food supply chain. Data is very valuable in any supply chain and would certainly be valuable to food. USDA had the power and resources of the US government and support of multinational corporations that dominate the U. S. meat market. Under these circumstances, getting data into the food supply chain should have been like shooting fish in a barrel. Instead it was an amazing failure. Why?

I submit that USDA and their industry partners have a common flaw in structure, leadership and management. The flaw causes them to be blind to social, cultural and economic values of food and farming . After several years and hundreds of millions of dollars, USDA continues to face fierce public opposition to NAIS and members of congress have declared NAIS a failure and have moved to eliminate funding. The failure of NAIS reveals a flaw and its potentially negative consequences for the food supply chain.

For at least four decades the U. S. consumer and producer have expressed a preference for a food and farming system that is consistent with their social and cultural values. In the 1970’s the American Agricultural Movement radically protested the loss of farms. In the 1980’s Farm Aid lamented the loss of farms. The 1990’s saw the growth of organic foods and specialized stores like Whole Foods and Wild Oats. The 2000’shave movements such as local food, real food, raw food, slow food, vegetarian, and vegan. All of these movements and many more are vocal, national, well-publicized and they express the desire for food that is consistent with social and cultural values. Even the Pope writes about the lack of social and cultural values in our food system.

The only way to add social and cultural value to food is to provide consumers with information about their food . Valuable information would include where it was produced, by whom and under what conditions. This would permit consumers to know if the food they purchase is consistent with their values and enable them to act on those values.

When USDA and its multinational corporate partners under took the implementation of NAIS, they ignored virtually all of the value information might have to the food supply chain. They focused on only one objective — to track and, if needed, control the movement of every animal in the U. S. They claimed that in the event a disease was discovered in the U. S. every exposed animal could be identified, located, and quarantined or destroyed. This ability would benefit only one segment of the food supply chain, the large meat packers. By controlling the movement of animals, the slaughter facilities could continued to operate with as little disruption as possible . Theoretically, saving the packers as much downtime would justify the cost of the system.

Despite a ubiquitous desire for food that is consistent with social and cultural values, USDA and the multinationals designed NAIS so that any information about the animal was lost at the slaughter facility . Information about the source of the animal would never be available to a consumer . Information about the customer’s satisfaction could not be available to the farmer.

It is apparent that USDA and the multinationals failed to consider that information would be valuable to the producer or the consumer. This failure is inexcusable. The values of food and farming are thoroughly addressed in books like Fast Food Nation and Omnivore’s Dilemma and films like Food, Inc. and Fresh. It is undeniable that there is a widespread concern, and in some cases outrage, that industrialized agriculture is responsible for the decline of rural economies and communities, economic oppression of farmers, environmental degradation and mistreatment of animals. Yet USDA and the multinationals act as if information about where, by whom and how food is raised is irrelevant to the food supply chain and the value of food.

USDA and the multinationals failure to recognize the value of information about food is really a failure to recognize the value of food. USDA and the multinationals failed, I submit, because they do not know why food is valuable. Food is not valuable because of its nutritional content. Food is valuable because it comes from one of many economically viable farmers who live nearby and can produce a supply of food that is safe and secure for the long term. It is valuable because it is provided through supply chain that functions freely and is not subject to foreign, corporate or governmental control. Food is valuable because it comes from animals and crops that are genetically diverse so that they are not all susceptible to the same disease. Food is valuable because it is produced with farming methods that preserve the productivity of the land and produces offspring and seeds for the following year. Food is valuable because it is consistent with moral, social and economic values that sustain communities indefinitely. The amazing failure of NAIS indicates that the USDA and the multinationals do not understand or do not share these values.

Due to USDA’s power and the multinationals to influence the nation’s and world’s food supply, this lack of understanding of the value of food is a huge obstacle. Nonetheless, the challenge and opportunity in agriculture and food markets is to provide this value despite USDA’s policies and the market power of multinationals. Each food recall, each disease outbreak, each bankrupt farmer, and each contaminated water body is a new and better opportunity and a greater challenge to provide food of greater value.

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Wisconsin’s war against agriculture: Fines, imprisonment and property seizure

July 23, 2009

By Marti Oakley (Food Freedom)

Paul Griepentrog inside the greenhouseThe first thing they did when they got the authority to write rules … was to grant themselves the authority to conduct warrantless searches. Wisconsin is in the process of coercing farmers and backyard producers … into NAIS, and the accompanying Premises ID program, by threatening to withhold any of the licenses they control.” Paul Griepentrog

In the course of researching various topics, running down leads on information and ferreting out the plans behind the public propaganda used to infringe on one right after another, I sometimes stumble across someone who has so much verifiable information, I am left astounded.  This was the case when I happened across a gentleman farmer named Paul Griepentrog while researching the laws and bills about Premises ID and the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).

I already knew the mandatory law had been bought and paid for in Wisconsin through the use of a USDA “cooperative agreement” to the tune of $35 million.

In a recent interview I asked Paul to answer a few questions about what is really happening to Wisconsin residents who are being forced onto these illegal programs:

Q:  Does the Animal Health Protection Act of 2003 actually authorize the Animal Identification System or Premises ID?

A: There is nothing in that bill giving them authority to create or establish the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).  That law has been misquoted saying that it is the authority for NAIS.  We have repeatedly sent letters to USDA and Tom Vilsack asking him to show the section of that law that gives the authority but he refuses to answer or acknowledge the letters.

Q: Has the USDA, in collusion with the Wisconsin AG department, threatened any farms that you know of?

A: Dwayne Brander on behalf of Dr. McGraw, Assistant State Veterinarian, goes out to farms telling them that if they don’t renew or register their premises in the State of Wisconsin they will file suit against them for failing to comply, using the county DA and calling it a civil forfeiture.

Wisconsin is in the process of coercing farmers and backyard producers in an effort to force them onto NAIS and the accompanying Premises ID program by threatening to withhold any of the licenses they control and would refuse to give the license unless you signed up.

Q: Is there a part of the law in Wisconsin that allows for fines and imprisonment based on the sole allegations of these agencies or representative personnel from USDA or DATCP in Wisconsin?

A: Here is section 95 from the Wisconsin bill implementing the “voluntary” NAIS/Premises ID law:

CHAPTER 95

ANIMAL HEALTH

95.23 Disease investigation and enforcement.

95.23(1)

(1) Authorized inspectors and agents of the department may enter at reasonable times any premises, building or place to investigate the existence of animal diseases or to investigate violations of or otherwise enforce the laws relating to animal health. Any animals or materials suspected of being infected may be examined or tested. No person shall obstruct or interfere with such investigation or enforcement work, or attempt to do so, in any manner, by threat or otherwise.

95.23(2)

(2) Upon request of an authorized inspector or agent of the department, sheriffs and police officers shall assist in the enforcement of the laws relating to animal health.

95.99 Penalties.

95.99(1)

(1) Any person who violates this chapter, or an order issued or a rule adopted under this chapter, for which a specific penalty is not prescribed shall, for the first offense, be fined not more than $1,000; and for any subsequent offense fined not less than $500 nor more than $1,000, or imprisoned not more than 6 months or both.

95.99(2)

(2) The department may seek an injunction restraining any person from violating this chapter or any rule promulgated under this chapter.

95.99(3)

(3) A person who violates this chapter or any rule promulgated or order issued under this chapter, for which a specific penalty is not prescribed, may be required to forfeit not less than $200 nor more than $5,000 for the first offense and may be required to forfeit not less than $400 nor more than $5,000 for the 2nd or subsequent offense committed within 5 years of an offense for which a penalty has been assessed under this section. A forfeiture under this subsection is in lieu of a criminal penalty under sub.

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Q: Do citizens have the right to demand a full disclosure of the exact laws and basis under which USDA and Wisconsin have charged them?  Is there any defense against these attacks?

A: There seems to be none.  In the cooperative agreement it states all applicable federal laws shall apply.  There are certain major State and Federal Constitutional issues that these laws are in conflict with.

Q: Who exactly is asking for this information?

A: The Department of Agriculture, State of Wisconsin administered by Assistant State Veterinarian, Dr. Paul McGraw; both knowing this has nothing to do with livestock or food safety.  This comes from The World Trade Organization and their trade program OIE. http://www.oie.int/eng/en_index.htm World Organization Animal Health.

Q: Where is the information stored? For what purpose?

A: Initially intake is at state level, and then it moves through forms records management plan.  There are different steps on how they process this information.  From everything I read, a disease outbreak would give state, federal and international interest’s access.

Q: Who is storing the information?

A: Wisconsin Department of Agriculture and then to Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium with (WLIC) as final repository in Canada. The WLIC is comprised of various agriculture groups, breed associations and companies selling RFID tags.

Rep. Obey & Sen. Kohl helped to get WLIC started and moved the data base to Canada.  The head of WLIC initially was Gary Tauchen who is now a Wisconsin representative and sitting on the house AG committee.

In my own case, I have been registered twice after the fire number on my property changed.  Once under the original number and my name and again under the newly assigned number and my farm name; I did not register for Premises ID on either occasion and was signed up without my knowledge or consent.

Q: If the WLIC is listed as the last repository of data mined information, how did files on Wisconsin agricultural properties end up being stored in Canada?

A: WLIC with the help of Rep. Obey and Sen. Kohl although I don’t know for sure how this was accomplished. The intention was to avoid any Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request or open information requests until they passed the 2008 Farm Bill and included a provision in that bill saying that these files would not be available to FOIA requests.

Q.  Who had access to these files when they were outside the country?

A:  We don’t know.  Once it was outside US jurisdiction we had no way of knowing.

Q:  Are you able to get copies of your personal file from the Canadian data bank?

A:  I was able to obtain the premises information pursuant to the forms records management plan.  To my knowledge I am only the second person to do so.

Q:  We know these programs have nothing to do with tracking animal disease and are actually meant to end competition for industrialized agricultural interests, and to seize control of agricultural lands and livestock….who are the actual players that will benefit from these programs?

A: The big corporate industrialized agriculture operators….Cargill, Tyson, Monsanto and others, because they would see the end to competition and obtain virtually full control over all agriculture.

Q:  Are Wisconsin politicians either state or federal willing to speak to you about NAIS, Premises ID or the fake food safety bills?

A: On the Federal level, Sen. Kohl and Rep. Obey will not take my calls.

(*Writer’s note: I made my own calls to these offices and when I stated what I was calling in reference to, the staffers got really nasty and then hung up)

In fact Sen. Kohl’s staffer, Kim Cates’ husband is on the Agriculture Consumer Protection Citizen board.  He would not even meet with John Kinsman of Family Farm Defenders to discuss the issue.

On the state level are the continuous lies.  These people will say Premises ID has nothing to do with NAIS.  They say this even though they have been shown the cooperative agreement between USDA and Wisconsin DATCP outlining Premises ID as the first step.  They refuse to look at or acknowledge the legal documents.

DATCP had a document on the Wisconsin Legislative information Bureau site saying that the Amish don’t have any problem with this.  If the Amish don’t have a problem with it why are they suing Emmanuel Miller Jr., an Amish from Clark County?

Steve Kagen would not address our concerns and he’s on the US house Ag sub- committee that held a hearing on NAIS and is also involved in the food safety bills and won’t address our concerns even there.  He is working right now to get funding to move Wisconsin into phase II of NAIS which is the mandatory chipping and tagging of all animals.

I will say that Sen. Feingold has been willing to listen to our concerns both in his Washington office and in the state office.

montages photobucketAlthough there is a bill in Wisconsin which would restore voluntary participation I feel it is nothing more than an attempt at political redemption by the same people who passed the mandatory bill to begin with, in that they are fully aware that this bills will be sent to the House Ag committee and never see the light of day.  This is merely political posturing…. The house, senate and government are all controlled by Democrats.  This may be nothing more than a smoke screen while they make mandatory phase II which is the tagging and chipping, which can’t be done unless you have a Premises ID.

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Paul Griepentrog shows that, in the end, what was billed and sold to Wisconsin farmers and herders as a strictly “voluntary” system turns out to be a mandatory system operated much like a police state enforcement policy.  There can be no doubt, especially in light of the hyped up investigation and enforcement policies that this law in Wisconsin is less about disease and more about property seizure and forfeiture.

Wisconsin is the blueprint for the remaining states:  what happens there is going to happen to all independent ranchers, farmers and producers across the country if any of these fake food safety bills, or National Animal Identification System (NAIS) is passed into law.

© 2009 Marti Oakley

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Organic farmers plead for help from USDA Secretary Vilsap

Written by: Bill Suydam, Editor, Health Spectator

This posting from the Cornucopia Institute is a video that portrays an emergency meeting of organic dairy farmers in Wisconsin pleading with U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to level the playing field against factory farms so that small farmers can survive.

One of the ironies of this piece occurs at the beginning, when an emcee approaches the refreshment stand at the fair and notes that bottled water is selling for $2.00—and milk for $0.50.

“Can farmers really be expected to sell milk for one quarter the price of water?” he asks the camera.

The farmers are protesting the fact that many large “organic” dairy farms flaunt the regulations, while “conventional” dairy farms—ironically the current term used for farms that inject their dairy cows with hormones to force them to produce twice as much milk as normal—may milk as many as 7200 cows a day.

Meanwhile, small farmers are finding it tough to survive, and more go out of business every day. This is not what we want to see if we are going to keep ourselves and our children healthy with wholesome products from small, local organic farms.

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