The newest government legislation is the National Animal Identification System. It is part of new USDA regulations. Although it currently does not include rabbits, it probably will in the future. It will however effect every rabbit owner as the cost to purchase groceries will be heavily impacted.
I am resolved to the fact that government legislation will continue to erode away at our freedoms. Government likes to paint itself as the lamb, but usually is the wolf. Itís the rules of necessity to protect us from certain harm. Take for instance the latest hot topic in farming, NAIS, National Animal Identification System.
The NAIS is a government created animal identification and tracking system created under the auspices of protecting the food chain from such things as mad cow disease. Their plan is to require every horse, cow, pig, goat, sheep, llama, chicken, and pigeon to be micro chipped, every owner to be registered, and track every movement of these animals. It is already being implemented, and will be mandatory by 2008. The claim is that they will be able to trace back the location of any contaminated animal within 48 hours to stop the outbreaks of potential diseases.
Look again at the list of animals currently listed as part of this legislation; remember this is designed to protect the ďfood chain.Ē Did you notice anything odd as I did? When was the last time you had one of those horse burgers? Horses are not raised for human consumption in the United States; in fact, it is actually against the law in many states. How about those llama steaks? Llamas and alpacas are raised for their wool, not for meat. Seems odd to me that legislation designed to protect the food chain, would require participation from non food animals.
I prefer not to have my personal information available for others to misuse. I am often asked for my social security number and will not place it on many documents, and refuse to give it in many situations. As an animal raiser you will be required to register your premises, including much of your personal information. The USDA website states that because of the Freedom of Information Act this information will not be kept private. Any extremist animal rights group will have access to your personal information, as will many others with a potential to misuse your information, so much for privacy.
In considering the food chain, the easiest way to achieve 48 hour trace ability, is to have local farmers sell directly to consumers. Any one that purchases from me, can tell authorities within 30 seconds where they purchased their animal. In fact if there are any issues with my animals it will affect my small herd and no one elseís. The necessity to include the local farmer or homesteader in this legislation is ridiculous. There is even some debate about how this applies to those that raise food for their own consumption. Many experts believe that they too will be required to register.
The costs associated with this program will have a huge impact on everyone. You may not be a farmer, you may not raise cattle, but you will be affected by this legislation. Again in reviewing the USDA website, they make it clear that the cost of this program will be passed on to the animal owner. The farmer will have to pay for their own compliance. They will have to pay for the microchips; they will have to pay for meeting all the paperwork requirements. More than likely this will force local farmers and small homesteaders out of the production of their animals. As it is they make little or no money. Donít expect large scale producers to absorb that cost out of the goodness of their heart. They will pass that expense on to every consumer. The price of meats, eggs and milk will certainly see large increases to meet the costs associated with this program.
Under the regulations of the NAIS, every animal movement must be reported to the US Government. Every time an animal is born, every time an animal dies, every time you take an animal to a show, every time you decide to eat one of your own cattle, etc. must be reported. Since horses are included in this legislation, every time you take your horse out for a ride, you must let Uncle Sam know. In fact those running animal shows such as horse shows will also be required to report the animals shown to the USDA.
Cattle farmers already have in place a way of identifying their animals. Many other animal raisers have their form of identification already in place. The USDA will tell you that on their website. So why is it necessary for them to create a government managed system? It must be because the government feels and can do a much better job than those actually in the industry. Of course weíve seen how great the government is at managing our resources like social security.
So will the ability of the USDA to track these animals really reduce the risks of food illness and contamination? Historically most meat recalls happen not because some local farmer had issues at his farm, but because a large scale meat packing facility contaminated the meat. Often contamination occurs because of improper handling of fecal matter. However, those meat packing facilities are unlikely to assume responsibility. Only one cow has entered the United States with mad cow disease. That animal was quickly destroyed. However panic was set off about the disease by reports like this UPI report declaring that hundreds of cases probably existed in the US http://www.upi.com/inc/view.php?StoryID=20040630-042354-9787r of which many would go undetected. In fact only one US resident has contracted mad cow, and she was in England when she contracted the human form of the disease. I donít know how much better the US government thinks it can do than what our cattle raisers have already done. This legislation does nothing but increase costs, and centralize and increase the size of our already over inflated government. It removes more of our freedoms, and brings us closer to complete government control of our food supply.
Many rabbit owners, buffalo breeders and elk herders will rejoice that their animals are not on the list. Donít sit still for too long. The NAIS is looking to expand its authority and certainly some of these animals will be included in future legislation.
So what can you do? First, contact your local government representatives. http://www.stopanimalid.org/action/contactgov.php. The Stop Animal ID web site also has form letters for writing to elected officials. http://www.stopanimalid.org/action/forms.php Write to your area newspapers regarding the issue http://newslink.org/statenews.html the Yahoo Group Americans Against NAIS has several form letters available for sending to newspaper editors. http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/Americans_Against_NAIS/ Sign petitions such as the following:
Most of all, take some course of action and then stay informed. Donít be complacent about these types of matters. Your own apathy will result in lost freedoms for yourself, your family, and our country. Join the Yahoo Group Americans Against Animal ID, and watch the web site http://www.stopanimalid.org for the latest information.