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Barnyard Panopticon

Warning: this post contains ironic statements by yours truly.

So, the USDA has a neat little plan for implanting RFID chips into all livestock (at the animal owner's expense, of course) to help protect us from Mad Cow Disease, or terrorism, or whatever. Here's their take on it:
The threat of a foreign animal disease outbreak or other animal health event in the United States is real. Unfortunately, the timing and severity of an outbreak are impossible to predict.

NAIS is a modern, streamlined information system that helps producers and animal health officials respond quickly and effectively to animal health events in the United States. The NAIS program-a voluntary State-Federal-Industry partnership-is designed to:

1. Protect your premises and your livelihood
2. Reduce hardships caused by an animal disease outbreak or other animal health event in your community
3. Protect your access to markets

You have the power to protect yourself, your animals, and your community against the impact of a disease outbreak or other animal health event. NAIS can help you - but the choice to participate is yours.

Of course, nutty libertarians see it as a conspiracy to advance the interests of big agribusiness corporations and drive out the small players who can't afford to implement the system on their own dime. Get this wacked out rant:
The Liberty Ark Coalition opposes any form, federal or state, of a government-mandated National Animal Identification System (NAIS). The Coalition believes that the best solution is an entirely private, market-driven program, in which government involvement is limited to protecting citizens from fraud and abuse by corporate activity in the market place.

The true driving force behind the NAIS is the financial interests of large producers, meat packers, trade associations, and technology companies. While every person and entity has a right to develop programs to enhance the profitability of their business, they do not have the right to use government coercion to achieve their goals. A market-driven program would provide all the potential benefits from the NAIS. Government has the power to compel participation; but that is not needed, and should not be allowed.

The NAIS will not improve animal health. Any animal health program must take into consideration the specific species of animal and the specific disease, including its cause, prevention, transmission, and treatment options. The NAIS will actually harm animal health and increase our vulnerability to bioterrorism by driving small producers out of business, creating black markets in animal ownership, and establishing technology systems that are vulnerable to tampering. Further, the NAIS would infringe upon the private property, and the affairs of individual citizens, without due process of law, in direct violation of our Constitutional rights.

Any animal tracking program should be sponsored by the private sector, as a truly market-driven program. No government sponsorship should be allowed. The only government regulations allowed should be to protect private individuals from fraud, abuse, coercion or punishment for not participating. The Coalition supports legislation to stop government sponsorship of the NAIS at both the state and federal levels.

I learned about this yesterday at the Washington County Fair at the Ron Paul for President booth. I picked a pamphlet that seemed to imply that, despite the USDA's assurances, participation in the system will not be voluntary, and that civil and criminal penalties await those of us who might opt not to put microchips into our backyard goats, ducks, and chickens.

Can't you just see the specks of spittle flying from their mouths? Paranoid nutters. The federal government would never sacrifice individual freedoms in favor of enormously powerful corporate interests, and state governments are much too powerful to be bent to the agendas of huge, monopolistic, multi-national agribusiness corporations.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 31st, 2007 06:44 pm (UTC)
i think they should make it mandatory. it is already compulsary in the EU..its called food traceability..with the sorry state of our agricultural system, this is absolutely necessary for the safety of unsuspecting gullets.
Aug. 31st, 2007 06:57 pm (UTC)
You think it should be mandatory that I, as an individual who occasionally raises a cow or pig for my own food, to implant it with a chip so the government can trace it?

Aug. 31st, 2007 07:09 pm (UTC)
Barnyard Panopticon
At your expense no less. And if Tyson and Cargill get their way, the tracking devices will cost a 10th of penny each when purchased in lots of a million or more and ten thousand dollars each when purchased in smaller quantities.

I know you know, but for the ironically challenged, let me point out that I just made that up. I absolutely do not claim to be reporting anything factual here.
Aug. 31st, 2007 07:30 pm (UTC)
I think a line should be drawn between livestock that is for sale (either live or as meat) and livestock grown for one's own consumption.
Aug. 31st, 2007 07:35 pm (UTC)
What about livestock you purchase directly from the farmer for your own consumption? Either on the hoof or already butchered...

Aug. 31st, 2007 07:35 pm (UTC)
Funny how this dovetails with the post I wrote today.

Funny how readily people make the (il)logical shortcut that if you have an ID card, you're valid, and if you don't, you're not valid. There is logic underneath that shortcut, but the shortcut itself leads to incorrect, and often oppressive and/or dangerous, conclusions.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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