USDA: SHAME ON YOU FOR USING OUR KIDS
“Here son, let’s get that good lookin’ steer up here on the scales,” said Joe, the volunteer who was weighing in 4-H steers. “He looks like a winner - you takin‘ him to State this year? If you are, we need to put the required Electronic Identification tag in him. You’ve got your Premise ID number on his papers - so you are ready to show this big guy.”
“Sarah, Sarah….what were you thinking? You can’t exhibit your steer without a Premise Identification number. You know Illinois is requiring a Premise ID number for all 4-H cattle entries,” said Joe.
That’s the way the 4-H weigh-in went Saturday when the kids took their very best steers to be weighed in for “rate of gain” in preparation for competition at the County Fair in July. Sadly, the volunteer and the 4-H exhibitor didn’t know what they were doing to their farms and livestock herds with Premise ID numbers and electronic ID tags.
In an urgent move to push the Federal USDA National Animal Identification System (NAIS) on Illinois producers, children are forced to have a Premise Identification number of the property where their animal is kept or they cannot compete. The Illinois Department of Agriculture has placed a mandate on Illinois 4-H exhibitors….but is it legal?
The NAIS is a national program being promoted in every state. It is supposed to be a voluntary federal program. When fully implemented, it will require a premise registration number even if you only have one horse, cow, pig, chicken, sheep, goat, deer, elk, bison, or virtually any livestock animal. In general, a premises is a location where livestock are raised, held, or boarded. Since most people live near their livestock, owners will be forced to register their home. This will include the owner’s name, address and telephone number and keyed to Global Positioning System coordinates in a government database under a 7 digit “premises ID number. Most animals will be required to have a Radio Frequency Identification tag (RFID).
Texas attorney, Judith McGeary of Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance points out that the government documents show the owner will be required to report within 24 hours or by the close of the next business day:
2007 Illinois State Fair attendees reported they saw 4-H kids and other minors being enticed to register for a Premise ID. The said “kids could register their family farm, their grandparent’s farm or any farm.” If they signed up, they were rewarded with a burger, a cap or some other item as a paltry bribe. (It is unknown who was behind this unscrupulous act.)
It isn’t just 4-H kids. It has been reported that students have been assisted by their agriculture teachers in securing a premise ID number for the property where their livestock is kept.
Although the Premise ID number is for perpetuity - (meaning that ID number is assigned for as long as that property exists – regardless of ownership) - the owner of that property may not even know he has a number because a “minor” - who has no authorization from the property owner - was coerced into registering the property without the owner’s knowledge. There are many instances of renters of property securing a Premise ID number without the knowledge of the owner.
The US Department of Agriculture gave the Future Farmers of America $600,000 to promote Premise ID. The FFA’s goal is to register 50,000 more premises by the partnership’s end on May 31, 2008, according to Bruce Knight, undersecretary for the USDA’s marketing and regulatory programs in the article, “National FFA Organization partners with USDA to advance National Animal Identification System.”
Exhibitors are told that it is for their own good because “they don’t want to put their animals in contact with animals that might have a disease.” For years health papers are required for the exhibited animals and the papers have all the needed information to track the animal.
Remember how stupid you felt when you got the answer wrong to, “where will you bury the survivors of a plane that crashed on the border of U.S. and Canada? Of course the answer is “you won’t be burying the survivors.” How will an electronic ear tag and Premise ID number stop your animal from contracting a disease? The answer is - “it won’t.” There are already health papers on the animals. The veterinarian is the one who would have the information on whose animal was sick; it certainly wouldn’t appear on the ear tag or Premise ID number.
Very few 4-H and FFA livestock owners represent large herds. Most are small operations that try to excel in certain breeds or high quality mixed breeds. These herds are kept in extremely good condition because losing one animal would cut deep into their profit. Why then, is this group being targeted?
Colorado was one of the first states to require 4-H and FFA compliance with the USDA “voluntary” mandated program. Legislators currently have legislation in process to stop the mandates.
An article from “Live from the Colorado Legislature” said “state agriculture and fair officials trotted out more than a dozen witnesses, including animal disease and homeland security experts. They maintained the Premise ID information is critical to helping prevent livestock disease outbreaks - and protecting consumers - by swiftly tracking and containing contagious critters.”
Rep. Wes McKinley, D-Walsh, called the disqualification “heavy-handed bullying government against the kids,” when he spoke about two youngsters who “were booted from the State Fair junior livestock sale for violating the new “premise identification” rule.” “They’re pushing their program by using these kids,” he said. Colorado already has a tried and true tracking system: the more than 100 old brand inspection program and veterinary animal inspections. But there’s big USDA money that goes into promoting this program, so, of course they don’t want to lose their money,” McKinley said in the article.
USDA has earmarked $6 million to work with organizations to help with premises registration. It was reported that Illinois State Director of Agriculture, Chuck Hartke, basically told a large group in Hancock County, IL the 4-H kids had this requirement because he said so.
The Hartke name is well known in the pork production industry. USDA partnerships have already been created with the National Pork Producers Council and the National Pork Board as well as other large agricultural groups.
“This thing's (NAIS) so stinky, I wouldn't pull it behind my tractor with 40 feet of rope," quoting a farmer in the hometown publication, The Hightower Lowdown.
Illinois lawmakers are in the process of drafting legislation to protect their 4-H and FFA exhibitors from Premise Identification mandates. Contact your legislator and encourage him to support this legislation.
Below is a “Top 10” list in opposition to premises registration, compiled by R-CALF USA’s Animal ID Committee:
premises registration sends a strong signal to the Federal government
that U.S. cattle producers give the U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA) a high approval rating for all the agency’s policies and actions
that impact U.S. cattle producers – it demonstrates that U.S. cattle
producers have the utmost faith and trust in the USDA’s past, present
and future actions.
© 2008 Joyce Morrison
- All Rights Reserved
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Joyce Morrison attempts to educate the public regarding the dangers coming to their local communities through Sustainable Development and Agenda 21 programs which are designed to gradually take control of all private property through undue regulations.
Morrison writes for Eco-logic Powerhouse, NewsWithViews.com, Range Magazine, SOWER magazine as well as numerous other publications. She is a weekly participant on the teleconference of the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative think tank and is a pro-life, pro-family activist.
She is a chapter leader for Concerned Women for America as well as Secretary to the Board of Directors of Rural Restoration/ADOPT Mission, a national farm ministry located in Sikeston, MO. FarmersRuralRestoration.com. Her most enjoyable time is spent teaching a senior adult Sunday School class which is a focus on hope and encouragement.
The NAIS is a national program being promoted in every state. It is supposed to be a voluntary federal program. When fully implemented, it will require a premise registration number even if you only have one horse, cow, pig, chicken, sheep, goat, deer, elk, bison, or virtually any livestock animal.