Browsing Posts tagged NAIS

Downsize Government

Memo ~~ USDA knows 18% of the beef consumed in the USA was imported
in 2011 because the nation does not produce enough product to feed
it’s people, yet more costly rulemaking is assessed upon producers
by bureaucrats. This document is vague and impossible to determine
the teeth, however, be assured, the devil is in the details. Once
Hammerschmidt gets this approved and mandatory he will personally
add the teath. There will be no more listening sessions or public
comments — the federales will have their way, regardless of the
majoritie’s oppositon.

Yesterday, USDA submitted it Animal Disease Traceability Rule to the
White House Office of Management and Budget for final review. See
Below.
This is one obstinate agency.

 

AGENCY: USDA-APHIS RIN: 0579-AD24TITLE: Animal Disease Traceability
Neil HammerschmidtSTAGE: Final Rule ECONOMICALLY SIGNIFICANT: No
** RECEIVED DATE: 04/25/2012 LEGAL DEADLINE: None
RIN Data
USDA/APHIS RIN: 0579-AD24 Publication ID: Fall 2011
Title: Animal Disease Traceability

Abstract: This rulemaking would establish a new part
in the Code of Federal Regulations containing minimum
national identification and documentation requirements
for livestock moving interstate. The proposed regulations
specify approved forms of official identification for each
species covered under this rulemaking but would allow such
livestock to be moved interstate with another form of
identification, as agreed upon by animal health officials
in the shipping and receiving States or tribes. The purpose
of the new regulations is to improve our ability to
trace livestock in the event that disease is found.

Agency: Department of Agriculture(USDA)
Priority: Other Significant
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage
of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage
Major: No Unfunded Mandates: No
CFR Citation: 9 CFR 90
Legal Authority: 7 USC 8305
Legal Deadline: None

Statement of Need: Preventing and controlling animal disease is the
cornerstone of protecting American animal agriculture. While ranchers
and farmers work hard to protect their animals and their livelihoods,
there is never a guarantee that their animals will be spared from
disease. To support their efforts, USDA has enacted regulations to
prevent, control, and eradicate disease, and to increase foreign and
domestic confidence in the safety of animals and animal products.
Traceability helps give that reassurance. Traceability does not prevent
disease, but knowing where diseased and at-risk animals are, where they
have been, and when, is indispensable in emergency response and in
ongoing disease programs. The primary objective of these proposed
regulations is to improve our ability to trace livestock in the event
that disease is found in a manner that continues to ensure the smooth
flow of livestock in interstate commerce.

Summary of the Legal Basis: Under the Animal Health Protection Act (7
U.S.C. 8301 et seq.), the Secretary of Agriculture may prohibit or
restrict the interstate movement of any animal to prevent the
introduction or dissemination of any pest or disease of livestock, and
may carry out operations and measures to detect, control, or eradicate
any pest or disease of livestock. The Secretary may promulgate such
regulations as may be necessary to carry out the Act.

Alternatives: As part of its ongoing efforts to safeguard animal
health, APHIS initiated implementation of the National Animal
Identification System (NAIS) in 2004. More recently, the Agency launched
an effort to assess the level of acceptance of NAIS through meetings
with the Secretary, listening sessions in 14 cities, and public
comments. Although there was some support for NAIS, the vast majority of
participants were highly critical of the program and of USDA's
implementation efforts. The feedback revealed that NAIS has become a
barrier to achieving meaningful animal disease traceability in the
United States in partnership with America's producers. The option we are
proposing pertains strictly to interstate movement and gives States and
tribes the flexibility to identify and implement the traceability
approaches that work best for them.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits: A workable and effective animal
traceability system would enhance animal health programs, leading to
more secure market access and other societal gains. Traceability can
reduce the cost of disease outbreaks, minimizing losses to producers and
industries by enabling current and previous locations of potentially
exposed animals to be readily identified. Trade benefits can include
increased competitiveness in global markets generally, and when
outbreaks do occur, the mitigation of export market losses through
regionalization. Markets benefit through more efficient and timely
epidemiological investigation of animal health issues. Other societal
benefits include improved animal welfare during natural disasters. The
main economic effect of the rule is expected to be on the beef and
cattle industry. For other species such as horses and other equine
species, poultry, sheep and goats, swine, and captive cervids, APHIS
would largely maintain and build on the identification requirements of
existing disease program regulations. Costs of an animal traceability
system would include those for tags and interstate certificates of
veterinary inspection (ICVIs) or other movement documentation, for
animals moved interstate. Incremental costs incurred are expected to
vary depending upon a number of factors, including whether an enterprise
does or does not already use eartags to identify individual cattle. For
many operators, costs of official animal identification and ICVIs would
be similar, respectively, to costs associated with current animal
identification practices and the in-shipment documentation currently
required by individual States. To the extent that official animal
identification and ICVIs would simply replace current requirements, the
incremental costs of the rule for private enterprises would be minimal.

Risks: This rulemaking is being undertaken to address the animal health
risks posed by gaps in the existing regulations concerning
identification of livestock being moved interstate. The current lack of
a comprehensive animal traceability program is impairing our ability to
trace animals that may be infected with disease.

Timetable:
Action Date FR Cite
NPRM 08/11/2011 76 FR 50082
NPRM Comment Period End 11/09/2011
Final Rule 08/00/2012

Additional Information: Additional information about APHIS and its
programs is available on the Internet at http://www.aphis.usda.gov.
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No Government Levels

Affected: State, Tribal
Small Entities Affected: Businesses Federalism: No
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No

Agency Contact: Neil Hammerschmidt
Program Manager, Animal Disease Traceability, VS

Department of Agriculture
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
4700 River Road, Unit 46,
Riverdale, MD 20737-1231
Phone:301 734-5571
______________________________________________________________________

 

R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America

 

“Fighting for the U.S. ! Cattle Producer”

 

For Immediate Release                                                                         Contact: R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard

December 19, 2011                                                                                          Phone: 406-252-2516; r-calfusa@r-calfusa.com

 

8 Days of Opposition to USDA’s Proposed Mandatory Animal Identification Rule:  Part VI of VIII-Part Series

Billings, Mont. – As promised, R-CALF USA has launched an 8-day series of news releases to explain in detail many of the reasons our members vehemently oppose the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS’) proposed mandatory animal identification rule titled, Traceability for Livestock Moving Interstate (proposed rule).

With this effort, R-CALF USA hopes to bring to light many of the dangerous aspects associated with the proposed rule that R-CALF USA described in its voluminous comments submitted to APHIS on Dec. 9, 2011. Click here to view the entire 41-page comment submitted by R-CALF USA, which includes all of the group’s citations to specific references that are removed from this news release to save space.

Part VI:  APHIS’ Proposed Rule Is Unscientific and Discriminates Against Cattle Producers Unlucky Enough to Live in a State Where Major Packers do not Operate Packing Plants.

  1. APHIS’ Proposed Rule Ignores Differences in Risk Inherent to the United States’ Diverse Cattle Industry; Is a One-Size-Fits-All Solution to an Ill-Defined Problem; and, Contradicts APHIS’ Pledge to Manage Animal Health Using a Risk-Based Approach to Trade and Disease Management

APHIS has long advocated that trade-related disease management and domestic disease management be addressed using a scientific, risk-based approach, as opposed to, presumably, a precautionary-based, geopolitical-boundary-based, or one-size-fits-all approach.

APHIS stated in 1997 that its goal “was to create a mechanism to establish regionalized, risk-based import requirements that are consistent with obligations of VS [APHIS Veterinary Services] under the World Trade Organization’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement (EXHIBIT 20).” (Emphasis added.)

As discussed in Part V of this series, the Deputy Administrator of APHIS represented that APHIS was opposed to the voluntary Beef Export Verification program from its inception. He claimed at the time of its inception that trade decisions should be risk-based and stated in regard to the Beef Export Verification program:

It could have been avoided if there were a more practical, risk-based approach to trade with countries, such as Canada, that have had only isolated occurrences of BSE and have responded aggressively with appropriate mitigation measures. (EXHIBIT 19).

In a July 2007 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) regarding APHIS’ efforts to implement the national animal identification system (NAIS), the GAO stated that APHIS officials told GAO that the agency did not expect that equal levels of involvement in the NAIS across all species “will be necessary, and that new, risk-based participation benchmarks for premises registration, animal ID, and animal tracking may be developed accordingly, which could vary by species.” (EXHIBIT 21, p. 13).

In a July 2009 report describing APHIS’ action plan to address bovine TB, APHIS explained it was proposing to replace the current split-state status system used to address bovine TB with a risk-based approach that imposes movement restrictions that associate with a zone rather than an entire state (EXHIBIT 22, p. 8).

In a September 2010 concept paper for a new approach to address brucellosis, APHIS stated its new approach to managing brucellosis would “employ a flexible risk-based disease management system (EXHIBIT 23, p. 14).”

The foregoing discussion clearly reveals APHIS’ ongoing intention of using a risk-based approach to trade as well as for managing domestic disease issues. The proposed rule, however, is the antithesis to a risk-based approach to either trade or disease management. This is because the proposed rule expressly targets all livestock that are imported and exported among and between each and every geopolitical, state boundary, i.e. it targets livestock engaged in trade between and among each of the 50 states. Thus, the imposition of the proposed rule would be an economic burden on all domestic trade in livestock between and among each state, regardless of the degree of risk associated with livestock from any state.

Not only is the proposed rule void of any risk-based consideration, but also, APHIS’ implementation of the proposed rule would constitute unfair and discriminatory treatment against domestic cattle producers when compared to foreign cattle producers. This is because domestic cattle producers that must cross a state boundary to access a slaughter plant would be required to incur the cost of APHIS’ mandatory animal identification scheme as a precondition to marketing their products into the U.S. beef supply chain. Foreign cattle producers, however, are not required by APHIS, or any other agency of USDA, to participate in any mandatory animal identification scheme as a precondition for marketing their products into the U.S. beef supply chain, regardless ! of whether they must ship cattle across provinces, states, or departments within their respective countries to access a slaughter plant that is eligible to export beef into the United States.

Thus, the proposed rule would financially disadvantage certain U.S. cattle producers who have no option other than to cross a state line to access a slaughter facility while the U.S. cattle producers’ competitor – foreign cattle producers – remain unencumbered by any U.S. requirement to meet the same standards as a precondition for marketing the beef commodity in the U.S. beef supply chain.

Further, the proposed rule discriminates against U.S. cattle producers who must cross state boundaries to access a U.S. slaughter plant when compared to U.S. cattle producers that reside in a state with one or more slaughter plants. Because only those producers who must cross state lines to access a slaughter plant would be compelled to bear the cost of an APHIS-mandated animal identification scheme, U.S. producers who do not need to cross state lines to access a slaughter plant would be accorded an economic advantage in the U.S. beef supply chain by not having to comply with APHIS’ mandatory animal identification scheme.

The effect of the proposed rule, therefore, would be to financially discriminate against every U.S. cattle producer who is not lucky enough to conduct his or her cattle business in one of the few states in which the handful of remaining meatpackers have decided to set-up a slaughter plant. For example, If Cattle Feeder A is equidistant from a slaughter plant as Cattle Feeder B, but Cattle Feeder A must cross a state boundary to access the slaughter plant, then APHIS’ proposed rule has accorded Cattle Feeder B upwards of a $27.00 per head financial advantage in the marketplace because APHIS’ proposed rule would not require Cattle Feeder B to pay the mandatory cost of identifying cattle.

APHIS’ proposed rule is oblivious to the fact that known disease reservoirs (including wildlife and foreign countries) and locations where cattle are comingled are the most likely and second most likely, respectively, source of a potential disease outbreak. The location where breeding-age cattle are comingled with known disease reservoirs and with imported cattle should be the origination point for any form identification program, not at the point where a farmer or rancher ships cattle interstate. An interstate shipment of breeding-aged cows from a closed herd is least likely to be the subject of a disease investigation. USDA’s proposed rule completely ignores this fundamental and science-based principle. Only by issuing best practices guidelines and working with the states to assist them in developing a program that works best for t! hem can USDA even hope to achieve a science-based and functional disease-traceback program for the entire United States.

The foregoing discussion demonstrates that APHIS’ proposed rule, which imposes a requirement to incur the cost of mandatory animal identification based solely on whether livestock cross a state boundary, which requirement is oblivious to whether or not the livestock originate from an area of negligible risk or high risk for any disease, would financially advantage some cattle producers while financially disadvantaging many others. As a direct consequence, the proposed rule would interfere with domestic commerce by financially discriminating against cattle producers based solely on where they live in the United States, and those that would be discriminated against when compared to domestic cattle producers also would be discriminated against when compared to foreign cattle producers.

R-CALF USA encourages readers to share this information with their neighbors, state animal health officials, and their members of Congress. 

 

# # #

 

R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com  or, call 406-252-2516.   

 

ADT ~~ ANIMAL DISEASE TRACEABILITY
On February 5, 2010, USDA Sec. of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that the opposition was so great, the ill-fated NAIS brain child of the US government was now ended.  The cost, complications, record keeping time, and potential enforcement fines made the whole thing stink to ranchers of the USA.  In listening sessions held to “hear the voice of the people” it had unearthed over 90% opposition to NAIS from cattle people.
For a period of time February, ranchers relaxed.  Many were still skeptical, and rightfully so.
The battle was extremely lopsided. USDA had millions of dollars of taxpayer money — over $140 million to be precise — to develop and promote NAIS and to persuade state departments of agriculture and cattle industry trade associations to recruit as many independent cattle producers as possible into the unwanted NAIS program.
To not labor-on with this continuing burden of government versus people, NAIS is back, now called Animal Disease Traceability  (ADT) and with the same diminutive text – government gobbledygook.  With more federal and state veterinarians than any time in history and less livestock disease — those hired to terminate disease, have minimal disease to terminate.  Cattle numbers are reducing and government employees are increasing.
The other talking point for ADT is US exports.  Well, go jump in the lake!  The USA hasn’t produced enough beef to feed the nation in 40 years and the amount being produced is declining.  Yet, as the USA imported 16% of their beef last year, ADT, somehow needs to become mandatory to increase exports.  It doesn’t take a Bernie Madoff to find a chuckle in that concept.
Today the same names and faces are still employed by USDA to hammer mandatory ADT that tried to toilet-plunge NAIS down the throat of livestock owners.  Who is at the head, promoting animal electronic numbering, and has been for over a dozen years, but Neil Hammerschmidt himself. His crew of government job creators are mostly the same as the NAIS crew of the past 10 years. Veterinarian associations are promoting ADT because they know it will create “paper” jobs for veterinarians.
To inform one and all, the USDA has created 29 small print pages in the Federal Register interpreting the warmed-over ADT.  It has the government style verbiage designed to bore the attempted reader to tears with the large print “giving” and the small “print taking away,” but in reality there is no large print.
It indicates that each state has some right to fine tune their own rules, but now, as we understand how Hammerschmidt works, they historically have given federal grants to each state paying them not to cut the livestock producers any slack.  One by one the federales will buy-off states to the point each one is slapped into submission.  That is the modern way politicians get the taxes they want — divide and conquer.
The new program ends the authority of the hot iron brand, respected as the only historic prevention of cattle rustling.  ADT erroneously thinks removable ear pins and tags will replace brands, and bet the kitchen sink, every good cattle rustler is loving that idea.
Once again your tax dollars are working to employ fingers and eyes behind computer screens to think up enforcements for a world they have never lived or even walked through.  The suits and white shirts walk the marble halls of government full of ideas unprovable, unaffordable and appalling to real world livestock people!
So read it if you can stand the extension of meaningless wordy words at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/traceability/downloads/2011/Proposed%20Rule.pdf

When you are tiring of holding your nose you may submit comments to

Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go tohttp://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2009-0091-0001.

Or write APHIS–2009–0091, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A–03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737–1238.

The deadline for comment is December 9.

In Zanesville, Ohio, Sec. Vilsack held a political meeting and allowed questions.  He was asked, “With over 90% of livestock producers opposed to NAIS in the listening sessions, how large would the percentage have to be to abandon the whole thing?”  Answer political mumble, mumble………    Could it be 95% for ADT?  Send in your opposition today and encourage others to quickly comment.  Thanks for helping protect the US cattle producer from useless enforcements.

The U.S. National Animal Identification System (NAIS) & the U.S. Beef-Cattle Sector: A Post-Mortem Analysis of NAIS

Rhonda Skaggs

New Mexico State University United States of America

1. Introduction

The appearance of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the United States in late 2003 resulted in severe economic impacts to the U.S. livestock sector. U.S. exports of beef and live cattle were immediately embargoed by importing countries as a result of BSE, and markets have not fully recovered eight years later. The trade status of the U.S. beef and cattle sectors was severely harmed when trading partners used BSE as justification for increased protectionism. The trade response to one BSE-infected cow and the desire to protect the U.S. livestock industry’s economic interests enhanced concerns about intentional and accidental disease outbreaks. The first BSE-infected cow identified in the United States and ongoing fears that a virulent disease (foot and mouth disease, in particular) could cost billions and destroy the U.S. livestock sector led many people to conclude that a nationwide individual animal identification system was necessary. As a result, the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) was set forth in early 2004 by a working group including both industry and government officials. The NAIS built on the National Animal Identification Plan initiated in 2002. The goal of the NAIS was nationwide 48-hour traceback of all livestock and poultry in the event of a disease emergency. The Animal Health Protection Act (AHPA) enacted with the 2002 Farm Bill set the legal stage for the federal government to be involved in the national animal identification effort. The 2002 AHPA includes language that indicates the federal government’s intention to expand regulation of livestock due to interstate commerce and related movements of pest or disease threats (O’Brien, 2006). The AHPA was interpreted as giving the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture the ability to prohibit all movement of livestock unless producers participated in the NAIS. The NAIS entailed three components: Premises registration, animal identification, and animal tracking. Premises registration was the assignation of a unique premises number to all facilities where animals are managed or held. Animal identification assigned a unique number to individual animals or lots in the case of animals that stay with the same group their entire lives. Animal tracking involved the collection of data for animal movements and the recording of those data in a central recordkeeping system which could be quickly and comprehensively accessed in the event of an animal health emergency. A 2005 USDA document indicated that the NAIS would begin as a voluntary program, but would become mandatory in 2009 (United States Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service [USDA-APHIS], 2005). The USDA stated in a 2006 document that while the agency had the authority to make the system mandatory, it had chosen to make every component of NAIS voluntary at the federal level (USDA-APHIS, 2006a). In a 2008 report, the USDA designated cattle as the highest priority species with respect to NAIS implementation and presented revised timelines and benchmarks for NAIS progress by species (USDA-APHIS, 2008a). Implementation benchmarks for cattle were scaled down from previous NAIS documents, and the cattle implementation timeline was also extended. NAIS benchmarks were scaled back for other species, although not as much as for cattle. In June 2006 the USDA published a document intended to provide guidance for “noncommercial” livestock producers and their position within the NAIS. This guide attempted to alleviate small-scale livestock producers’ concerns about the system, stating that NAIS participation was voluntary and that the NAIS would “largely focus on commercial operations and animals” (USDA-APHIS, 2006b). Critics of NAIS quickly pointed out that many statements in the report were inconsistent with other NAIS documents regarding the government’s plan to extend NAIS coverage to all livestock and livestock movements within the United States. The federal government issued numerous grants and cost-shares to states and tribes as inducements for premises registration and spent more than $120 million in the process; however, at the end of 2009, only 36% of premises were registered nationwide (USDAAPHIS, 2010). Some states achieved higher levels of premises registration by tying it to other state-level licenses or programs. In September 2008, the USDA issued a memorandum which stated that premises registration would be mandatory for emergency disease management or for state or federal activities involving diseases regulated through the Code of Federal Regulations. Although this memorandum was cancelled in December 2008, the USDA maintained that the federal government has broad authority to assign premises identification numbers as part of their normal animal health program activities. Recent livestock disease outbreaks in some states thus have resulted in mandatory NAIS participation for affected producers. In June 2009, federal funding for NAIS in its current form was dropped from the fiscal 2010 spending bill by the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, with House leaders indicating that no future funds would be available for the program unless USDA developed and implemented a mandatory NAIS. The USDA conducted numerous NAIS “listening sessions” throughout the country in 2009 and received many more comments on NAIS at the Regulations.gov website. Since the inception of NAIS, the federal government has asserted that the future economic viability of the U.S. livestock industry rests on improved disease management through nationwide animal identification and traceability. However, over the last several years, many U.S. livestock producers raised concerns about the security and confidentiality of premises and animal data provided to the national system, increased liability on the part of producers as a result of traceback to the farm level, the costs of NAIS participation, and the overall feasibility of the system. Opponents of NAIS claimed it was unconstitutional, a violation of their property rights, inconsistent with religious beliefs, an invasion of their privacy, and a loss of freedom. They did not believe USDA’s assurances that NAIS information would not be subject to Freedom of Information Act requests or that use of the information would be restricted to animal health emergencies. The 2009 “listening sessions” were dominated by NAIS opponents, with a small minority of session participants speaking out in favor of the system. The comments posted at Regulations.gov were nearly unanimous against NAIS. In February 2010, the USDA announced that it was abandoning the NAIS (USDA-APHIS, 2010). The agency indicated that it was going to “revise prior animal identification policy and offer a new approach to achieving animal disease traceability” (USDA-APHIS, 2010). The new approach will apparently only apply to animals moving interstate, although the operational details of the approach have yet to be developed. The agency’s February 2010 Factsheet also stated that the new approach intends to “help overcome some of the mistrust caused by NAIS.” For almost a decade, proponents maintained that NAIS would protect producers’ animals, investments and neighbors, and that “as producers become increasingly aware of the benefits of the NAIS and the level of voluntary participation grows, there will only be less need to make the program mandatory” (USDA-APHIS, 2006a). The USDA stated that NAIS would help protect U.S. livestock and poultry from disease spread, maintain consumer confidence in the food supply, and retain access to domestic and foreign markets (USDAAPHIS, 2007). In 2010, the federal government was forced to admit that arguments in favor of NAIS had fallen flat with a large segment of U.S. livestock producers. The cattle industry was designated by the USDA as having the highest priority for full NAIS implementation; however, the cow-calf portion of the beef cattle sector was very resistant to NAIS (evidenced by continuously extended timelines and increasingly modest benchmarks for implementation). The economic, structural, and socio-cultural reasons for cow-calf producer resistance are the subject of the rest of this paper. If future livestock disease traceability efforts in the United States are to be successful (and disease catastrophes are to be avoided), it is absolutely essential that the context of cow-calf producer resistance to NAIS be fully understood. The objective of this paper is to describe the context and implications for the post-NAIS traceability framework.

2. Overview of U.S. agriculture and the beef-cattle sector

The history of U.S. agriculture is dominated by a relentless march toward increased concentration. Ever fewer numbers of farms are producing an ever larger percentage of total agricultural output. Of the 2.2 million farms enumerated in the 2007 Census of Agriculture, 10% generate almost 85% of the value of all agricultural sales (United States Department of Agriculture – National Agricultural Statistics Service [USDA-NASS], 2009). The remaining 90% of farms are responsible for 15% of output value. U.S. agriculture wasn’t always this concentrated and much of the history of U.S. settlement and economic development is one of smallholders supporting their household through agricultural production, while generating a small marketable surplus. Technological changes occurring throughout the 19th and 20th centuries worked to increase productivity and drive down per unit production costs; new lands and resources were brought into production, and real prices for agricultural commodities plunged. As the relative purchasing power of raw agricultural commodities decreased, so did farm household incomes. Extreme structural upheaval occurred, many farms failed and millions of farm families exited agriculture. Their land was subsequently absorbed by survivor farms which grew larger. The remaining farms were successful as long as they managed to stay on the technology treadmill or otherwise survive decreasing real prices for their products. Consequently, many farm households now achieve acceptable income levels as a result of non-farm income sources. One-third of all U.S. farms have consistently negative net farm incomes and nearly 83% of total national farm household income in 2004 originated from off-farm sources (Hoppe et al., 2007). At first glance, it would seem that negative net farm incomes should prompt continued outmigration of people and resources from agriculture. But, it isn’t happening.

U.S. farm-level commodity production is very diverse although 98% of U.S. farms are family farms, organized as proprietorships, partnerships, or family corporations that do not have hired managers (Hoppe et al., 2007). U.S. family farms range from small limited resource operations, to the extremely large industrialized farms that account for the majority of farm-level production. The USDA estimated that in 2004 57% of U.S. farms were retirement or residential/lifestyle farms, and that these farms’ off-farm income as a share of total household income was 98% (Hoppe et al., 2007). According to the USDA, rural-residential farms account for only 7% of the value of production and include 35% of farm assets (including land). Small farms of all types, defined as having annual sales of less than $250,000, are 90% of farms, generate 25% of production value, and hold 68% of farm assets. Small farms, and especially retirement and residential/lifestyle farms, tend to specialize in the production of beef cattle, primarily cow-calf enterprises (Hoppe et al., 2007). There are several economic reasons for this specialization, including lower labor and management intensity (desirable to operators who are retired or who hold full-time non-farm jobs), relatively low cash costs of beef cattle production, and favorable tax treatment. Productivity gains in U.S. agriculture over the last century have been astounding. However, the beef cow-calf industry is a notable exception to the productivity increases which characterize agriculture overall. This is due to the biological limitations of bovine reproduction. The rate of reproduction in cattle continues to be stable and low, with one cow rarely producing more than one calf. Natural twin production continues to be an unusual occurrence in beef cattle herds, and often results in extra production costs and/or sterile female offspring. By comparison, the U.S. hog industry has been characterized by steady increases in piglets/litter and litters/sow/year. Genetic advances and the adoption of industrialized confinement production by the hog industry in the post-World War II era led to dramatic increases in productivity, decreases in real hog prices, and industry concentration. The lack of equivalent productivity gains in beef cattle production are reflected in the much less drastic decrease in the real purchasing power of the calf commodity over the last half century, and an unconcentrated cow-calf sector. The nature of the bovine digestive system also has contributed to relatively low productivity gains and limited adoption of capital and management intensive technologies in U.S. cow-calf production. Land-extensive calf production processes continue to be used in much of the cow-calf sector because the beef animal functions as a scavenger, using and transforming low value forages produced on marginal lands into a higher-valued product. Land-extensive production processes are generally not compatible with management intensive technologies, adoption of which is driven by the need and opportunity to increase returns per unit of capital and management input. Most of the advances in technology and increases in efficiency in the beef industry have occurred beyond the farm gate at the feeding and packing levels. The feedlot and meat packing sectors have dramatically increased in size and concentration to achieve economies of scale. The beef feeding sector is increasingly dominated by a small number of extremely large operations, while the four largest beef packers controlled 84% of the market in 2007 (Hendrickson and Heffernan, 2007).

The beef cow-calf sector is the foundation of the beef cattle industry. Cow-calf production is not concentrated, dispersed nationwide, and occurs in every state, with an estimated 33 million national beef cow inventory living on almost 765,000 farms and ranches (USDANASS, 2009). Cow-calf operations produce the calves (or the animal frames – including skeleton, internal organs, and hide) upon which the cattle feeding sector accumulates meat using higher energy feed resources (usually under confinement conditions). The USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) divides cow-calf producers into three groups: Those who have cow-calf herds primarily for income objectives (14% of producers), those whose beef cow-calf operation is a supplemental source of family income (72%), and those who keep cattle for some reason other than for providing family income (e.g., pleasure) (14%) (USDA-APHIS, 2008b). Differences in management practices for calving, animal health, feeding, marketing, and record keeping for different types of cow-calf operations are statistically significant and strikingly obvious in the NAHMS survey results (USDA-APHIS, 1998). Management of non-primary income herds is consistently less intensive, and productivity indicators for the herds are less favorable. The technologies used in cow-calf production have not changed greatly over the last century, although some advances in cow-calf productivity have been made through selective breeding, use of veterinary pharmaceuticals, and improved forage management. Cow-calf production in the United States continues to be characterized by low entry costs, low cash production costs, low technology requirements, and low management intensity. Cow-calf operations also have lower exit probabilities than other farm enterprises because of their compatibility with off-farm work (Hoppe & Korb, 2006). The technological stability of the U.S. cow-calf industry is evidenced by the small change in the average size of a U.S. beef cow herd over the last ~30 years (it went from 40 in 1974 to 43 in 2007) (USDA-NASS, 2009). By comparison, the average size of a U.S. milk cow herd went from 26 in 1974 to 133 in 2007. Nationally, almost 80% of U.S. beef cow-calf operations have fewer than 50 cows with these farms accounting for 29% of the country’s beef cow herd. Most research exploring U.S. cow-calf producers’ motivations has been conducted in the West by investigators interested in rangeland management and public land policy issues. For example, the desire to have a rural lifestyle was found to inflate the value of farms and ranches in the West (Gosnell & Travis, 2005) while a relatively small percentage of ranchland value can be explained by livestock income in the Southwest (Torell et al., 2005). Gentner & Tanaka (2002) found that half of western public land ranchers earn less than 22% of their total income from ranching, that a ranch business “profit motivation” is a relatively low-ranked objective for all types of ranchers, and that public land ranchers are strongly motivated to be in ranching for tradition, family, and lifestyle reasons (i.e., consumptive objectives). Similarly, Cash (2002) noted that most U.S. beef cattle producers are not actually in the business of farming. The multiple roles of livestock in traditional societies have long been recognized by anthropologists, human ecologists, and other social scientists. In traditional societies, livestock are mobile stores of wealth and status. And even though the United States has a very advanced economy, cattle continue to be viewed as “banks-on-the-hoof” by cow-calf producers (Eastman et al., 2000), who say that when they “need the money” is a key factor in determining when they market their cattle (Lacy et al., 2003). For many cow-calf producers, cattle and the land used to produce them are investments, savings, and financial safe-havens. Cattle provide emergency funds, and are also a stable supply of high quality meat for family consumption. Similar to their counterparts in traditional societies, cattle are also a source of identity and a cultural touchstone for many U.S. cow-calf producers. Pope (1987) concluded that “romance, recreation, the achievement of a desired social status, or simply the maintenance of a family tradition” are the primary motives for many western

U.S. cattle producers. Identity objectives are financially feasible, compatible with other lifestyle and household objectives, and are encouraged by the nation’s tax system. Lifestyle goals, particularly the desire to live in the country, were the most highly ranked strategic ranch goals among small-acreage livestock producers interviewed by Rowan (1994). Technological advances, structural adjustment in response to technology, economies of size, and the wringing out of cultural identity objectives have not occurred at the cow-calf producer level as they occurred throughout much of U.S. agriculture in the 20th century. As a result, household-level cow-calf production has maintained more of its traditional economic, social, and cultural character than any other geographically dispersed agricultural commodity sector in the United States today.

3. The NAIS pushback

The trend of fewer numbers of ever-larger beef feeding and packing operations throughout the United States has led many cow-calf producers to be concerned about the structure of the overall beef industry, the negative effects of downstream concentration, and their belief that they are at the losing end of the structural change. Many believe that prices received by cow-calf producers are depressed as a result of non-competitive market behavior by feeders and packers. Domestic cow-calf producers feel threatened by the market impacts of imported feeder cattle from Mexico and imported fed cattle from Canada. Live cattle imports are viewed favorably by a majority of feeders and packers, who generally welcome the flow of the animals into the U.S. market. Many in the cow-calf sector vigorously promoted country of origin labeling (COOL) for U.S. beef. COOL was opposed by feeders and packers as a result of their integration with the rest of the North American as well as the global cattle-beef markets. The schism between the cow-calf sector and the feeding and packing sectors led to the creation of a new industry lobbying group, the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA). R-CALF consistently appeals to cow-calf industry fears about trade liberalization and global market integration, property rights erosion, loss of freedoms, and invasions of privacy. R-CALF was opposed to the NAIS. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) represents cow-calf producers, as well as feeders and packers. In the view of R-CALF, the NCBA and the United States Department of Agriculture do not represent the interests of “independent cattlemen.” The NCBA publishes Beef Magazine, was very supportive of the NAIS, and was a key player in the effort to establish a centralized, NCBA-affiliated, privately held database for animal tracking information. In 2005 Beef Magazine reported that 76% of survey respondents said a national system of individual animal ID and traceback was needed for health monitoring purposes, and 63% indicated such a system should be mandatory. According to the magazine, 83% of cattle producers who responded to their survey individually identify their cattle and 12% use electronic ID tags. These results are very different from USDA NAHMS 2007-08 survey results, which found that 53% of U.S. cow-calf producers use no form of individual calf identification and less than 1% of producers use electronic ID technology (USDA-APHIS, 2009a). In 2006, the Cattle Industry Work Group (established by the USDA to develop NAIS guidelines and standards for the cattle industry) declared electronic ID technology (specifically, radio frequency identification (RFID)) as the technology to be used to individually identify cattle under NAIS (USDA-APHIS, 2006c). Although originally conceived as a means to deal with animal health emergencies (zoonotic and otherwise), NAIS proponents and technology vendors consistently emphasized the valuable management benefits to producers from individual animal identification and performance record keeping (particularly in their RFID and electronic forms). NAIS proponents and technology vendors have assumed that management intensification and the tools to accomplish it are desired by producers. However, cow-calf production is an intrinsically low-management intensity activity. It is a land-extensive activity and one where it is often not desirable, necessary, or feasible for producers to increase management intensity or capital investments. NAIS proponents touted individual animal identification’s role in maintaining international market access and cattle and meat trade flows. This justification has not been well received by cow-calf producers who believe international trade is a threat to their industry. In their opinion, shutting off beef exports would be a small price to pay for shutting off the live cattle imports with which they directly compete. For the cow-calf sector, NAIS became an attempt to impose a technology mandate and modernization on an industry where cow reproductive limitations, producer household and personal objectives, and cattle’s efficient use of low-value forage have limited and will continue to limit technology adoption and modernization. Much of cow-calf producer opposition to NAIS was founded on fears that they would pay for the NAIS while the feeding and packing sectors would benefit from animal tracking and performance information derived from the electronic data. Cow-calf producers’ fears about the costs of NAIS were confirmed in a 2009 USDA benefit-cost analysis of the system (USDA-APHIS, 2009b, 2009c). The analysis concluded that beef cow-calf operations would incur 79% of the total annual beef cattle industry cost of a fully implemented NAIS. Given existing economies of size, the cost of an individual cow-calf animal ID system with full traceability ranged from a low of $2.48 per head for the largest operations to a high of $7.17 per head for the smallest operations. These data supported NAIS opponents’ long-running contention that NAIS would benefit large agribusiness at the expense of the smallest farming and ranching operations in the country.

4. Conclusion

A few years ago, the author of this paper was forcefully told by a USDA official that anyone who wanted to “produce or market cattle in the United States” would have to comply with NAIS. This official clearly did not recognize what a critical wedge issue NAIS would become within the U.S. beef-cattle industry. He and the broad complex of government animal health personnel, large agribusiness interests (particularly feeders and packers), and established industry associations failed to appreciate the deep distrust many cattle producers have of them. The proponents of NAIS also seem to have been unaware or dismissive of the deeply ingrained socio-cultural aspects of cow–calf production and traditional small-scale lifestyle agriculture in the United States. Although this paper focuses on the cow-calf sector, many traditional small-scale producers of other species objected to the NAIS using arguments similar to those of cow-calf producers. Serious miscalculations by government officials about livestock producers and owners fed and strengthened grassroots-level resistance to increased animal health regulations. NAIS proponents in government and the private sector sent too many conflicting messages to NAIS skeptics. Official NAIS reports and documents that appeared on and disappeared from the USDA’s website following criticism added to confusion, suspicion, and hostility regarding NAIS. As a consequence, new disease management risks have been created and the ability of the nation to effectively deal with real animal health emergencies has been compromised. The level of suspicion created by NAIS among traditional livestock producers led to an environment where, should a disease such as FMD arise in the United States, many producers will not respond as they should in a true emergency. Rather, they will suspect that a false emergency is being used to expand government control of their activities. Efforts to implement livestock movement control, quarantine, condemnation, and depopulation will be hampered and defied by some producers. Under these circumstances, disease outbreaks could be catastrophic for the entire nation. The USDA appears to have recognized the suspicions and potential for civil disobedience within the livestock sector which resulted from the NAIS experience, as evidenced by official statement that the new animal disease traceability framework has trust issues to overcome (USDA-APHIS, 2010). However, memories of NAIS will negatively affect whatever form a federally-promoted traceability framework takes in the future. Cow-calf producers’ distrust of federal regulation and their suspicions about relationships between large agribusiness NAIS supporters and the federal government are unlikely to moderate under any new federal traceability program. NAIS became part of the paranoia smaller (and many larger) producers feel about industry structure and market power relationships within the U.S. beef-cattle sector. The USDA’s recent statements that the new traceability framework will apply only to animals moving interstate will not mollify many cow-calf producers, as the vast majority of beef calves produced in the United States cross state lines at some point in their lives (even if they are first sold “locally”). Specifically, the February 2010 statement from USDA-APHIS that small producers who sell animals “to local markets” will not be a part of the new disease traceability framework has yet to be operationally defined. Unfortunately, much federal and state credibility has been lost in the rush to mandate a culturally insensitive, high technology, management-beneficial, and trade-oriented animal identification program. NAIS represented an enormous leap in government involvement in the beef cow-calf sector. From the beginning of NAIS, government was under the impression that it was dealing with an “industry”; however, much of U.S. livestock production is deeply grounded in culture and lifestyle. Expanded regulation of culture and lifestyle choices was an uphill battle for NAIS, and will continue to be so in the future. USDA’s unsuccessful efforts to promote NAIS as a management tool and as a means for supporting trade carried little weight with the large percentage of non-management intensive, non-trade oriented cow-calf producers. These producers’ concerns about competition from U.S. imports of feeder and fed cattle aren’t going away simply because federal animal disease traceability efforts are being renamed. Successful animal disease management in the future will require significant rebuilding of trust between state and federal animal health officials and grassroots-level producers. This will require that animal health officials credibly demonstrate their independence from large-scale agribusiness and from identification technology vendors. Previous disease management and eradication programs (e.g., scrapie, brucellosis) haven’t required producer investments in electronic eartags and other equipment. Furthermore, a comprehensive, nationwide, 48-hour traceback objective probably is infeasible under any existing and future technology and management assumptions, regardless of what technology vendors say. The USDA-APHIS announcement that future federal animal disease traceability efforts will apply to animals moving interstate means that any new program is likely to have much in common with NAIS. A future federally-influenced traceability program will thus encounter resistance and disease management will be compromised because of the NAIS experience. The loss of federal credibility and increased mistrust of government which resulted from NAIS has made the United States beef industry vulnerable to trade barriers and protectionism. The U.S. beef industry needs international trade, and post-NAIS, also needs programs that assure the quality and safety of U.S. beef products to overseas buyers. The demise of NAIS and potential cow-calf producer resistance to future government-mandated traceability systems have created a vacuum that industry-driven quality assurance or process verification programs can fill. In the wake of NAIS, an industry-driven system that covers willing buyers and sellers and financially rewards specific attributes or processes will be more successful than government regulation at holding and growing international markets for U.S.-produced beef. Even though NAIS was not implemented, animal disease hazards haven’t disappeared. In their recent factsheet, the USDA indicated that post-NAIS animal disease management and traceability efforts will be led by the states and tribal nations (USDA-APHIS, 2010). NAIS-related damage control needs to be high on the agenda for state and tribal agencies responsible for animal disease management. Whatever reservoirs of trust grassroots livestock producers have for state- or tribal-level animal health agencies desperately need to be refilled before new or well-known pathogens emerge to threaten livestock or human health throughout the United States.

5. Acknowledgement

This research was supported by the New Mexico Agricultural Experiment Station, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA.

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Food Freedom

Are the raw milk raids to distract from something far more deadly to farming?

By William Davis (Food Freedom)

People have been saying that the FDA goofed because their attacks on Rawesome and California’s cease and desist orders for goat herders have galvanized public attention to the issue of raw milk and safe food. But when corporate media gives time to grass roots anti-corporate issues, there is usually a purpose.

Just as the New York Times and other corporate outlets appeared to be muck raking about industrial agriculture with all their stories on the terrible, contaminated conditions there as the food safety bills were on the table in Congress, it was not to ensure the small farmers became a greater source of food but to create sense of public outrage in order to push through a devastating corporate bill.

Not once did the NY Times publish articles on how the bills threatened farmers, though it was blatant that they did, or on how corrupt the FDA was, or about the fact that a Monsanto lawyer and VP was put in charge of all food and farms. And now that the Food Safety Modernization Act has passed and that same Monsanto person is ordering raids against safe food across the country, the NY Times is also silent.

So, if there is big media attention on FDA raids now, one is compelled to wonder what are they pulling farming, food and health advocates’ attention from?

A good guess is the gargantuan thing the USDA is doing to farmers and ranchers and anyone with so much as a chicken. Jim Hightower, former agricultural commissioner in Texas back when such people actually cared about farmers, has called the USDA plan “lunatic.”

The USDA program was once called NAIS (the National Animal Identification System) but was so detested by farmers and ranchers that the government had to back off. They did, momentarily, since 90% of the farmers at Vilsack’s listening sessions were vehemently opposed. The USDA promised to take that into consideration.

They did. They changed the name to “traceability,” hoping to slip it through now, hoping farmers are worn out from the last go-round, hoping the public won’t notice, and perhaps hoping the raw milk raids will keep farmers, and the public who strongly supports them, occupied.

NAIS, or traceability, had been promised as voluntary but the USDA is bringing it back as mandatory. It had been promised to ranchers that their brands would serve as identification but the USDA flat out lied about that.

“USDA did not have to attack our industry’s hot-iron brand or add younger cattle to the proposed rule in order to improve animal disease traceability in the United States, but we believe it has chosen to do so to appease the World Trade Organization and other international tribunals,” said R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard recently.

Hightower’s article makes clear that this animal ID plan to track down deadly animal diseases is not about diseases at all. Neither is the USDA’s decision to locate a germ lab in Tornado Alley over the objections of ranchers and scientists who say it can cause a leak and set off diseases, or in trying to bring in cattle from Brazil where a disease is active now, once again over the objections of ranchers working to keep their animals healthy.

So what is this USDA program that is rousing all this resistance and all this lying on the USDA’s part? Hightower says it is a system that “would compel all owners of [farm] animals to register their premises and personal information in a federal database, to buy microchip devices and attach them to every single one of their animals (each of which gets its very own 15-digit federal ID number), to log and report each and every ‘event’ in the life of each animal, to pay fees for the privilege of having their location and animals registered, and to sit still for fines of up to $1,000 a day for any noncompliance.”

Whoa. It does so many, many objectionable things, one almost naturally skips right over the far and away most poisonous part. Putting aside the onerousness and impossibility of logging and reporting all events and movement of animals and the huge fines, the real kicker is this: it would “compel all owners of [farm] animals register their premises….”

Mr. Hightower is mistaken, however, that the information would be put “in a federal database.” It would be into a privately-owned corporate database, out of reach of a public records request. Farmers raise this central question in a highly informative article called The Amish and the bailout?

A few urban folk may still picture farmers as hay-chewing rednecks, but clearly they were thinking hard as they chewed because they appear to have been sharp as pitchforks at sniffing out what may be the largest government trickery in US history.

What, farmers ask, are “premises?” It is not an international term? And with premises, is a person merely a stakeholder in land, not an owner? Is this, farmers inquired of the USDA, different from “property” which is a constitutional term in which one owns one’s land? And in signing onto premises, wouldn’t farmers be signing their land onto an international contract and in the process be losing their property rights as landowners but become mere stake holders?

And for whom would they be holding the stake?

Some think a good guess might be the IMF, the Fed, the World Bank, or even the Chinese. George Soros has been buying up farmland across the midwest at low prices after the floods. He is also selling gold and buying farmland. Land is where it’s at.

Do the bankers who took our homes, our jobs, our manufacturing, our economy, now want the land itself?

Sometime back, a man named Wayne Hage suggested that our land is collateral on the national debt.

Is that correct? Does President Obama’s Executive Order 13575 further these aims?

Is the USDA forcing our farmers and ranchers (and any of us with a chicken) into international contracts in readiness for a government default? Funny how that sounds remarkably like the Rockefellers’ (bankers) UN Agenda 21. No property rights and no people on the land at all. Have the bankers and corporations created the debt which pushed us into debt in the first place, set the country up for a default in order to take over our land?

The right to choose our food is a fundamental human right and people are now realizing it’s at risk, but there can be no food and thus no rights at all, without the land.

Stopping premises ID comes first. It’s everything.

Ignore the occasional misplaced concern about pesticides and golf courses, and remember that these conservatives saw the fundamental threat of UN Agenda 21 long ago, so even if they drop the dart a few times, they get the bulls-eye when they throw. This video on UN Agenda 21 shows what is planned with land and property rights for everyone.

The Denver Post

As USDA turns to ear tags over brands, cattle ranchers fear end of tradition

Ordway rancher John Reid holds some of the irons he uses to brand livestock on his ranch, the Reid Cattle Co. The USDA is expected to release new interstate rules requiring individual cattle to be identified by a number stamped on an ear tag. (Aaron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post )

The future of the hot-iron brand, an icon of Western heritage, is at the center of a nearly decade-long battle over cattle identification and traceability.

“It’s the latest hot lightning rod,” said John Reid, an Ordway rancher who is past president of the Colorado Independent Cattle Growers Association.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected soon to release a draft of new regulations, which will remove the hot-iron brand from its list of official identification for cattle sold or shipped across state lines.

The new rules will require each animal to be identified by a number stamped on a removable ear tag.

States would still be able to use brands as official IDs within their boundaries.

Individual agreements between states can be reached to allow brands as official IDs for interstate movement — more complications.

Critics fear this is the beginning of the end for America’s centuries-old branding tradition.

“The federal government’s action sends a signal to the entire industry that the ear tag is a superior means of identification,” said Bill Bullard, chief executive of the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund.

Ranchers argue that ear tags can fall off or be stolen by thieves, so are not a good form of official ID.

State brand commissioner Rick Wahlert said nothing will change for the state’s cattle producers.

However, the new system is a critical element of participation in the interstate beef market, he said.

Negative reaction to the new rules, he said, “is really about change, and a fear of the government being in your business.”

Gerald Schreiber, a third-generation rancher in northeastern Colorado, already uses ear tags for identification within the herd but bristles at the new regulations.

“It sounds good on the surface, but anytime you get the Big Brother approach, I don’t trust it,” he said. “The brand has worked for 1000 years, I don’t know why they want to disregard it. In the West, branding is more than just a tradition; it’s our identity as ranches.”

First proposed in 2002, the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) was rolled out in 2004, but flatly rejected in USDA listening sessions by over 90% of the cattle producers.

Producers across the country are skeptical about the new program, which would require radio-frequency ear tags that would let cattle be tracked from slaughterhouse to birth.

Their concerns ranged from potential costs to confidentiality of information, including fears that animal-rights advocates would be able to gain information on ranchers through the use of the federal Freedom of Information Act.

“It got pretty ugly,” said Ordway rancher Reid.

From 2004 to 2009, the USDA spent $142 million on NAIS, according to a Congressional Research Service report to Congress. Because it was a voluntary program, less than 30 percent of cattle producers participated.

In February 2010, the USDA announced it was abandoning NAIS due to mass rejection by livestock producers. Now a new name and a new program has evolved called Animal Disease Traceability.

Loss of tradition

The draft of the proposed USDA rule was due in April but has been delayed. It is now expected to be released within weeks, followed by a 60- to 90-day period of public comment. It will take an additional 12 to 15 months before the final rule is released.

“Americans want two things,” Rohr said. “They want to know their food is safe, and they have an interest in knowing where their food comes from.”

Still, the plan to remove the hot-iron brand as an official method of ID across state lines has angered Westerners, who worry about a loss of tradition and the addition of more red tape to their businesses.

“The piece of the deal that is awfully hard for producers to understand is that most disease comes from meat processing plants more than individual cattle or cattle herds.” Reid said.

The brand is the oldest and more permanent form of herd identification, while ear tags, with their unique numbers, can easily fall off in brush and trucks where cattle frequent.

“So the question is,” said Reid, “do we need individual ID or is herd ID enough?”

USDA wanting to end Fire Branding as means of ID

We should have known this would happen! Now USDA is planning to de list the hot-iron brand from the list of “official animal identification devices.” As all cattle producers know, the hot iron ID and holding brand system is the basis of historic permanent ID. If the federales oppose hot iron branding it could easily be assumed that PETA and other animal rights wackos will grab on the coat tails of USDA. A day could come that only the NAIS digital ear tags would be allowed. As with other idiot federal enforcements in the last two years, they can eventually smell egg on their own faces, and to protect their bureaucratic gravy-trains, crawfish backwards and renege their plan.

In the last few years trusted farm and cattle organizations have prostrated with USDA’s pitiful ideas. When they could have opposed bad judgement, they allowed costly enforcements to be enacted and cattle producers pay the price.

Most do not know what USDA is now planning. This is a USDA conspiratorial step to resurrect the flawed-thought of the hated NAIS. You have not been warned about this in the cattle media as they also understand the profitable nature of a passive attitude toward their consistent advertiser, USDA.

Only one organization is on their toes, alert and ready to defend the US cattle producers — R-CALF USA. The attached letter gives the position (not passive) of R-CALF. Each cattle producer should support R-CALF in their efforts to defend producers from USDA’s cumbersome-costly and ominous regulations, like delisting hot iron branding. Every professional producer understands the value of fire branding for permanent ID and prevention of cattle thefts.

If you are a USA citizen and cattle producer, it is very profitable to join and support R-CALF. Attached is a membership application.

Why R-CALF USA Opposes USDA Proposal to Delist Brands

The hot-iron brand is part-and-parcel to the culture and heritage of the U.S. cattle industry. In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has long recognized the importance of the brand as a permanent means of identifying livestock, not only for determining ownership, but also for conducting disease investigations. USDA regulations concerning interstate transportation of animals include the registered brand, when accompanied by a certificate of inspection (certificate) from a recognized brand authority, as an official identification device or method for use in existing disease programs. USDA regulations at 9 CFR 71.1 state:

Official identification device or method. A means of officially identifying an animal or group of animals using devices or methods approved by the Administrator, including, but not limited to, official tags, tattoos, and registered brands when accompanied by a certificate of inspection from a recognized brand inspection authority (emphasis added).

Under USDA’s earlier proposed Animal Disease Traceability Framework (ADTF), breeding-aged cattle would bear an ear tag containing a number identifier (such as the low-cost metal “Brite” tag) as a condition for interstate transportation. This proposal would restore traceability to levels previously achieved when breeding females were ear tagged under the brucellosis program. Like the brucellosis tag, the new tag would augment other official devices such as brands or tattoos. This augmentation enhances traceability because while ear tags are prone to loss, brands remain permanent. Brands have facilitated disease investigations throughout history.

Under this breeding-age-cattle-only proposal, interstate transportation of branded feeder cattle accompanied with a certificate would continue as it has for decades. States that identify a disease suspect in branded feeder cattle, regardless of whether the states have their own brand programs, could continue to use the brand and certificates to contact the state where the certificates were issued to identify the herd of origin – just as they have for decades.

But, USDA has now changed its position and plans to delist the brand as an official animal identification device and include feeder cattle in the ADTF. This would discredit the hot-iron brand as a means of identifying cattle in interstate transportation. Here’s why:
1) The brand and accompanying certificates would forever be delisted as an official animal identification device.
2) USDA may well be precluded from requiring permanent brands on imported cattle after brands are delisted.
3) When the trigger for feeder cattle is reached, the brand and accompanying certificates will be delisted, so USDA would need to carve out a special brand exception to allow states to continue using brands to identify cattle, causing the brand to be relegated to a secondary position in relation to USDA’s ear tag.
4) No longer will the numerical ear tag be an augmentation to the more permanent brand, but instead, the ear tag will be deemed a substitute for brands, providing justification for brand opponents such as meat packers that believe hide values would increase, and tag companies that believe sale revenues would increase, without brands.
5) USDA’s act of delisting brands will send an erroneous signal to the industry that brands are of limited use for disease traceback and likely will trigger a de-emphasis for brand programs operating in many states.
6) USDA’s act of delisting brands would be the first step toward the eventual elimination of hot-iron branding in the United States.

Please Download R-CALF Application and send it in. http://www.texaslonghorn.com/emails/R-CALF_Membership_Application.pdf

Note: This interview with attorney Judith McGeary by Alex Jones was aired just before the HR2751 hit the fan. The concern is real. The interview is an educational necessity. All who want and respect clean farm raised food — listen up!!

Killing Off the Small Farm: Alex Jones Talks with Judith McGeary 1/3

Alex also talks with Judith McGeary, the Executive Director of FARFA. McGeary is an attorney and small farmer. She has a B.S. in Biology from Stanford University and her Juris Doctor from the University of Texas at Austin. After a clerkship with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, she practiced as an attorney doing a combination of administrative law, litigation, and appeals. She and her husband live on a small farm outside of Austin. Ms. McGeary talks to Alex about animal ID and the government plan to eliminate small farmers and restrict the healthy food choices of Americans.
http://farmandranchfreedom.org/home
http://www.infowars.com/
http://www.prisonplanet.tv/

Under the earlier plans for NAIS, each animal would have to be identified and physically tagged, in many cases with radio frequency tags or microchips. Factory farms of chickens and swine would be able to identify whole groups of animals with one number, but most regular farmers and individuals would have to identify each animal individually. “Events” in the animal’s life would have to be reported within 24 hours. All of this information will be kept in databases by the state government or private companies, while the federal government will have the right to access the databases as it deems necessary.

Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has stated that it is dropping the original plans for NAIS, Big Ag and Big Tech continue to push for the program at both the federal and state levels.

The NAIS does not distinguish between large corporate factory farms and the smallest family farm, pleasure horse owner, or the grandmother with a few laying hens. The NAIS will drive small and medium-size farmers and ranchers out of business, increasing the consolidation of our food supply into the hands of a few large, multinational corporations. The government is wasting your taxpayer dollars on a program that will lead to increased food prices and decreased quality.

NATURAL SOLUTIONS FOUNDATION
Your Global Voice of Health & Food Freedom™
www.HealthFreedomPortal.org

Health Freedom USA is pleased to re-post this article by Ms. Hannes which was originally circulated by our friends at NAIS Stinks.com … NAIS is the National Animal Identification System which wants to “chip” all farm animals, “voluntarily” — and, for many reasons we agree with them, NAIS stinks! Both Codex and S.510 are very NAIS friendly, and thus not friendly to farmers, consumer or environment – see: www.FriendlyFoodCertification.org.

Why S.510 Does NOT Protect Local, Natural Food… or Freedom!
S. 510 Hits A Snag
by: Doreen Hannes Dec. 4, 2010
Reprinted with permission from www.naisstinks.com

Senate Bill S 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, passed the Senate on November 30th, 74-23. Not a single Democrat crossed party lines. This bill is the coup on food in the US. Even though the Tester Amendment was included to dupe those who think it will stop small farmers and processors from being put right out of business, it will only slow down the demise of some small farms.

Then it came to light that a Constitutional issue that had been staring all of us in the face was present. The Senate did not pick up HR2749, which passed the House in July of 2009; instead they took up their own monster in S 510. They also began revenue generation in the Senate (Section 107 of the bill), which is expressly forbidden by the Constitution.

Faced with a patently un-Constitutional bill, that violates Constitutional process, we have to remain vigilant until BOTH houses have adjourned for the winter recess prior to the next session of Congress. Talk about roller coasters.

If the Constitution means anything at all, the House should blue slip S. 510, which would preclude them from taking the bill up and very likely run out the clock for passage in this session.

However, there are four choices available for the legislation to move forward before they adjourn on December 24th. The first is for the Senate to bring it back and get unanimous consent to remove the offending section. Since Senator Coburn of Oklahoma will not consent, that avenue is cut off.

Second is for the Senate to bust S. 510 down to the original a compromise amendment, remove the funding section and the Tester amendment and try to ram it through the entire senate process again before the 24th. This seems unlikely, but do not trust them as far as you can throw a semi trailer loaded with lead.

Third, the Senate could take HR2749, which has already passed the House, and rush it through the Senate, and it would go straight to the Presidents desk with no process with the House necessary. This also seems rather unlikely. The bills are very similar and would have the same detrimental effects for everyone, but the Senators are not familiar with the bill, so it could be really tough.

Fourth, the House Ways and Means committee could pass the bill through and forgive the Constitutional infraction and refuse to blue slip the bill, then vote on it before the 24th and we would have the bill albeit there would be legal issues brought forth that could possibly ensnare the regulations they want to write under this bill. This appears to be the most likely potential for S. 510.

Make no mistake about this, SB 510, or HR 2749 are worse than the Patriot Act, the Health Care bill, and the Federal Reserve Act combined. We can all live without little pieces of paper, and many of us can live without doctors, and we have been living with the increasing police state since 911, but none of us can live without food and water. If we lose food and water, we will not be able to fight anything else.

The Tester-Hagan Amendment Lipstick on a Pig

The largest deception played on the public in S. 510 is the inclusion of the Tester Amendment. This amendment was sold as the complete exemption for all small farms grossing less than $500,000 per year. But if one reads the actual amendment, it is evident that it will not do what it is purported to do for the vast majority of small producers.

The Tester Amendment has strident restrictions on those who may be exempted from HACCP (Hazard and Critical Control Point) implementations. HACCP is 50 pages of instructions that require a certifier to sign off on the plan, and a team to be trained in ensuring the plan is followed on the farm. The requirement of this plan put about 40% of small meat processors out of business several years ago. If you fall under the protection of the Tester amendment, you will not have to do it….but let us see how protective the Tester Amendment really is.

First, the Tester Amendment purports to exempt farms with less than $500,000 in sales from the requirements of S.510. However, to be exempt one must sell more than 50% of their products directly to consumers or restaurants within a 275-mile radius from production, and keep records substantiating those sales. The records are open for inspection and verification of the exemption. In other words, you have to prove you are playing by their rules through record keeping and approval of those records, or meet the more onerous requirements of S.510.

You must apply to be included in the protections of the Tester amendment. You must substantiate through your records for three years that you fit the category of selling more than 50% of average annual monetary value within this 275-mile radius. So, if you sell on the roadside or at a farmers market, you must have a map handy and ask for ID from everyone who purchases from you or lose your exemption. Nice, huh?

Proof of Residence for Food? Really?

I can see it now….A lovely early June day, with the birds singing and the smell of freshly mown hay hanging in the air like the best memory from childhood. A young mother pulls into the Farmers Market and readies herself for a wonderful shopping experience.

She approaches the first stand with her mouth nearly watering at the bright display of fresh produce. I would like 3 cucumbers, please, says the lady with her 3 kids and cloth grocery bag.

Great! Can I see your ID? replies the guy in bibs.

Oh, I am paying with cash she replies with a smile.

No matter, says the farmer, We have to make sure you are within a 275 mile radius of our farm in order to sell to you.

She looks perplexed and says, Well, we are not. We are on our way to visit my parents and I wanted to make a special dinner for all of us, using their locally produced foods so they could remember how good home grown veggies are….So I can not buy from you without an ID?

The farmer scratches his head and says, Now see, I have to be very careful. I belong to a CSA that sells to a Chipotle that is 276 miles from us, so all of my sales at market have to be local or I lose my exemption and will have to hire 5 people to take care of the paper work and then I just go out of business. So no, I can not sell to you. What is more, all the vendors here are part of the CSA, so no one here can sell to you. You have a nice day now!

No Surprises-It is Locally — Global

What we have in Tester is local Agenda 21 Sustainable Development. In sum, control over all human impact on the environment. Everything will need to be within the food shed, and if you are outside of the food shed, too bad for you. It is a great way to surveille and monitor food production and distribution. And you still fall under the broad based reason to believe of the Secretary with the Tester amendment. If the Secretary, meaning the head of the FDA or HHS thinks you may have a problem, or deems what you produce to be high risk, you will be shut down until they say you can begin again. All of your product is subject to mandatory recall; that is why you have to keep records of everyone you sell to. And you will have to register as a facility under the Bioterrorism Act of 2002, referred to as Sec 415 throughout the bill. (Knock knock—this is premises identification as in NAIS)

So please, do not tell me how great the Tester Amendment is, and that the expansive powers being granted to the DoD, DHS, HHS, FDA and USDA in this bill will be helpful to small farmers and local food production and make my food safe. Wake up and smell the coffee!!! Oh, wait. The only state that could produce coffee within 275 miles of itself, is Hawaii. Never mind. Wake up, and smell the tyranny, please.

(The best thing to do right now is to call the members of the House Ways and Means Committee as well as your own Representative and tell them they MUST blue slip S. 510. While I know it gets frustrating to call the Congress critters, the more they know that we know, the better the chance at slowing down the destruction they have planned for us. The switchboard number for Congress is 202-224-3121.)

[Note from REL: you can also use our automated email system to message all your representatives in both houses of Congress; in fact, please to both! Click Here for Action Item: http://tinyurl.com/3xdz3lp.

This entry was posted on Sunday, December 5th, 2010 at 4:48 pm and is filed under Activism, BeyondOrganic, Disinformation, Divest Government of Food Regulation, Food Crisis, GMOs, Legislation to Oppose, Organics . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can track-back from your own site.

A man has been charged over the theft of $27,000 worth of cattle in northern NSW.

A man has been charged with stealing $27,000 worth of Angus cattle from a farm in northern NSW, removing their tags and then selling them on.

The 60-year-old allegedly stole the 27 head of cattle from a property in Gravesend in August this year.

The cattle, with an estimated value of $1000 a head, were taken from the property over two separate days, police allege.

The animal’s National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) tags were removed before they were all sold to a third party, who police said bought them in good faith.

The man from Warialda, in the state’s north, has been charged with stealing the cattle, removing approved identifiers from the stock and selling identifiable stock not identified.

The cattle have been recovered and will be returned to the owners, police said.

They are warning people to not buy stock without their NLIS identification tags attached and to contact police if they suspect stock theft.

The man is due to appear at Moree Local Court on January 24.

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