I have been at a loss for words about NAIS – the National Animal Identification System. To put this kind of shackle on the small livestock producers in this country is shameless. The local farmer from whom I buy my chickens says that when this USDA program goes into effect, he will not be able to sell his free-range hens and eggs to the public anymore. He and his wife have been building a successful business and had made plans to raise heritage turkeys and rabbits this year. NAIS is changing everything for them. It is also taking away a valuable food resource for local consumers.
I received this email from Allan Balliett, a frequent contributor to the Slow Food DC listserv, in response to a query by a listmember. I wanted to share it with you because it does a good job of explaining NAIS from a small livestock farmer’s point of view, and it led me to an excellent blog set up to inform the public about NAIS and help us fight it. If you care at all about food, small businesses, privacy, or needless government regulation, you should care about stopping NAIS.
NAIS is one of several programs that have become necessary because of problems created by confinement animal operations that the government is currently pushing onto small family farms. Is the goal the safety of Americans or is it saving agri-business from the unfair competition created by, as Kathy says ‘Food that tastes like it used to”? It’s amazing how greedy corporate bean counters are, pushing to recollect any crumbs that fall to small farms. Since keeping clean, living food out of the hands of anyone but the rich helps creates profits for corporations invested or integrated in the ‘health’ sector, it’s hard to imagine that this continual and painfully obvious push to make farming too expensive or difficult except at [large] scale doesn’t have larger payoffs in mind.NAIS is just one of many.
Best source of NAIS and anti-NAIS info is at noNAIS.org (which, btw, is also an excellent example of how the internet can be put to work for the betterment of everyone).
The following is quoted from there.
“The National Animal ID program was originally designed to give the big beef producers help in getting export markets which required disease controls. The idea is that every single livestock animal in the United States will be identified and tagged. All livestock animal movements will be tracked, logged and reported to the government. The benefit is to the big factory farms who probably do need this type of regulation. They get to do single ID’s for large groups of animals. Small farmers, pet owners and homesteaders will have to tag and track every single animal.
“There are no exceptions – even small farms that sell direct to local consumers will be required to pay the fees and file all the paper work on all their animals. Even horse, llama and other pet owners will be required to participate in NAIS. Homesteaders who raise their own meat and grandma with her one egg hen will also have to register their homes as ‘farm premises’ and obtain a Premise ID, tag all their animals and submit all the paperwork and fees. Absurd? Yes – There are no exceptions under the current NAIS plan. The USDA has slipped this plan in the back door without any legislation. This is going to be very expensive and guess who is going to pay for it in higher food prices…You!”
Allan Balliett has a website about his Shepherdstown, West Virginia farm at www.freshandlocalcsa.com. His CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program serves the DC Metro area.