Stop National Animal ID
|Sold Out by Farm Bureau—Member Input
by Karin Bergener
How, you have to wonder, did farmer-members of Farm Bureau become the fringe in NAIS development? The exact origin of the Farm Bureau’s NAIS policies is unknown, but all Farm Bureau policies are supposed to start at the county chapter level. As one Nevada Farm Bureau staffer put it, this is the method “in principle” by which policies are created. By 2005, though, many state Farm Bureau organizations had resolutions on the NAIS, and in that year Illinois Farm Bureau amended its existing resolution to insert the word mandatory. An Iowa Farm Bureau staff person told Mark Miller, president of Iowa’s Jackson County Farm Bureau, Illinois first raised up the resolution for a mandatory NAIS at the 2006 Farm Bureau annual meeting. In that meeting the word mandatory was inserted into the Farm Bureau policy on animal identification. As we now know, this insertion merely documented Farm Bureau’s long-standing position. And a coercive, supposedly voluntary, system that’s being implemented across the United States is fine with Farm Bureau.
“The only reason to do this animal ID thing is for the money,” David White—executive director of the Ohio Livestock Coalition and the Ohio Farm Bureau’s representative at an educational NAIS session in Hillsboro, Ohio—told an anti-NAIS activist. “They’re going to get you to do it by strangling you at the slaughterhouse and the auction house,” he added, without any indication that something might be amiss with this prediction for our future.
If you are a member of Farm Bureau, when did you first learn about NAIS? Was it from Farm Bureau? If so, did you find out before your state Farm Bureau voted on an animal identification resolution? Did Farm Bureau tell you it includes animals other than cattle? Or about all three aspects of the program—premises registration, individual tagging of multiple species, and tracking and reporting movements? That the costs are estimated to be almost $40/head in Australia and $60/head in the United Kingdom? Is your local Farm Bureau hosting “educational” sessions on the NAIS, and do they invite opponents to speak?
Has your local chapter mentioned that earlier this year Farm Bureau helped form a company to manage the databases? This nonprofit company, the United States Animal Identification Organization (USAIO) has on its board of directors Don Shawcroft, vice president of the Colorado Farm Bureau. On March 1, 2006, USAIO, ViaTrace LLC, and Microsoft Corporation jointly announced the launch of an industry-led, multi-species animal tracking database to record movements of livestock from point of origin to processing.
Farm Bureau is in the thick of NAIS. Farm Bureau is helping build the NAIS infrastructure. Farm Bureau has, for a number of years, presented itself as a supporter of mandatory animal identification and made commitments to other members of USAIO to move forward on its plans.
So where are the state delegations and county Farm Bureau chapters? Left in the dust. Members across the country are angry. While some members try to make change from within, others may follow the example of the member who said, “I’m cutting up my membership card and mailing it to [president of Farm Bureau] Bob Stallman.”
Each of us who is a member of Farm Bureau and against NAIS must make our own decision. I was a member of the board of my county Farm Bureau. I quit when I realized Farm Bureau would not take a position against NAIS and the rest of my fellow board members didn’t even know what NAIS is. They were busy raising such issues as “We need better signage at railroad crossings.” Not that signs at crossings aren’t important, but if animal ID wipes us all out, we won’t be driving teams down the road past those signs anyway.
Karin Bergener is an attorney living in Freedom, Ohio, a former member of the board of directors of the Portage County, Ohio, Farm Bureau, and co-founder of Liberty Ark Coalition. This article appeared in the Holiday 2006 issue of Rural Heritage.
PO Box 2067, Cedar Rapids IA 52406-2067
Phone: 319-362-3027 Fax: 319-362-3046
20 November 2006