Sunday, October 28, 2007

About the National Animal Identification Program and Individual Responsibility

Please read here about why this affects anyone who eats...not just the farmer or rancher.

In the interest of controlling outbreaks of widespread disease, legislation has too broadly been applied to the individual farms and farmers who are responsibly and sustainably counteracting mass industry. There seems to be little recognition on the part of the general public of just where that last cheeseburger really originated. A tour of a feedlot is a whole different proposal than a tour of a grass farm's cattle. An in-depth investigation into the origins and types of supermarket-driven produce easily reveals how diametrically opposite the chemically and genetically-altered food machine is in comparison to the small, pesticide-free local grower...and the mindset of sustainability.

I'm neither an anarchist nor someone who thinks legislation is our primary option in solving consumer health problems arising nationwide. I believe the first step is to begin reclaiming our own individual responsibility, and to educate ourselves, since many precedents of legislative change are set oftentimes without consumer awareness or understanding. It is upon these that a lot of interpretation, and even abuses, can occur if we remain ignorant of their reach and impact.

At the heart of many of today's consumer health issues is a fundamental issue...that of Who Gets to Decide. There is a movement, very widespread and encompassing nearly every aspect of our consumerism, to educate and preserve the responsibility of health back to the individual. This affects our individual responsibilities across the page...being involved means impacting our world with our voices and some elbow grease, rather than pointing fingers without being willing to get into the messier parts of the argument in action rather than theoretically.

There are those working to preserve the freedoms to individually be a force and a voice, and yet there are many who remain uninformed as to the specifics and ramifications of current legislation and proposed "reforms" ..and I fall into that same category. I am trying to educate myself away from what I've assumed are issues for a particular group to hash out. Since I tire easily of political rhetoric, I've stayed away from arguments and issues altogether...until I am seeing how, if people like myself remain stubbornly aloof from them, I will be impacted whether I like it or not,and I will give away my right to making my own responsible choices.

There is a lot of misinformation about the origins of our food, about what healthy foods are, about the food cycle from field to table, about the economics of the above, and about the ethics relating to modern scientific ability to alter any of the above. Sometimes, mistakenly, these issues become shrouded in larger political agendas or parties, and the public opts out to their party's favorite traditional arguments and in "All liberals are tree-huggers and are for government programs as the answer...all Conservatives are for big business and wealth."

I'm zeroing in on particulars right now in my family's life. Despite the political party of the moment, the government regulations that are or aren't in place, and the tide of public misinformation/misunderstanding/ignorance about any specific, I still have to try to do the right thing for my own family, and my future family.

This is my particular resolve...I have to take responsibility as a human, a citizen, a parent, a neighbor, and a forbear of the next generation. And I say utilize all available resources to protect the freedom for us to keep deciding, educating ourselves, and making changes to protect, recover, or maintain what we MUST preserve as a basic human right...the right to determine for ourselves choices as basic as what we eat, the ability to grow it/raise it without restrictions, freedom of movement and ownership within our own nation, freedom from regulation and harrassment or ostracization as we make those choices.

Please....BEWARE of sanitized language and rhetoric...language is a powerful door of entry for ideas. The word "PROTECT" should not be used in conjunction with handing over our individual RESPONSIBILITY and RIGHT to DECIDE. Mobilizing a Thinking People is a different matter than reassuring an uninformed and fearful audience.

We've got to:

1. Educate ourselves...set out to know ALL sides of any argument or proposed change, and to query its ramifications for the present AND the future...what precedents would this change, or LACK of change, introduce or allow an open door for for the future? How could it be abused? What do we need to do to allow for progress while preserving the integrity of certain standards or absolutes that should not be compromised?

2. Have some absolutes. Relativism can kill our creativity, security, individuality, and will to participate as a thinking and responsible individual. With relativism, we opt out of some fundamentals that SHOULD be absolutes...and in doing so, we give way to initiatives of others who very much have agendas that may be very contrary to what we hold dear. We cannot escape moral implications in our decision-making. Opting out of making decisions is still a form of decision-making. As a result, we have lost our ability to determine many of our own choices freely.

3. Learn how to effect change. I'm only just learning. Reading from a variety of sources is a great start, but what about the action part? Doing it ourselves...changing our own habits and way of doing something, is the best place to start. But sweeping reforms can still undermine our ability to continue those efforts...when the Powers That Be hear from constituents from an educated and fervent reference point, that is a beginning. It can result in dialogue, and help educate others. It can halt or change legislation. It can present a viable voice to an issue formerly assumed in the minority. But we have to know where to start.

Focusing a bit on the NAIS issue, we have to start by educating ourselves. Often legislation is a REACTION rather than a solution, and this is how I see NAIS regulations that are being implemented...or some could say forced. We don't need to responde with an additional REACTION, but with informed and persistent action to change what we believe is not in the best interests of the farmer, animal, and constitutional (even basic human) freedom.

There are so many other sites and books that detail the specifics of the NAIS issue. If you think your state is untouched by this issue, do a Google search with your state name and "Animal Identification System" and you'll find the official websites with your state's regulations. My state is Florida. What I found is that registration of farms is voluntary, but a few sentences further, I found this statement:

As of September 15, 2005, more than 1,025 Florida premises were registered into
the system. This methodical start set the foundation for further development of
the program with approximately 85% of cattle being on registered premises since
January 2005, the beginning of the project.

Florida is a big beef-producing state by nationwide standards. If 85% of the cattle were on registered premises as of two years ago, that is hardly an accident...there was surely a big campaign to convince farmers to adopt that. What needs to concern me further is the statement about the further development of the program. Seemingly, the 85% participation figure was at the OUTSET, before FURTHER regulations were instituted or enforced.

I MUST become familiar with what EXACTLY this means, rather than allowing it to sit like a convenient statistic in my mind.

I have to get out there and look for myself and ask questions.

Then we need to raise our concerns...audibly and consistently.

Here are two of Monica's posts about some of the serious ramifications of the registry system, the identification issue, and what can happen if it's enforced. It IS being enforced to differing degrees in different states.

I'm going to begin digging into this issue further, for myself. After all, we want a small farm and do not ever want to register our animals with any government registry. I don't mind cooperating with interstate traffic laws that already exist. But I don't want a Big Brother dictating my private farming decisions, when we get to that point, or keeping my PRIVATE business data in a data base...ANYWHERE.

This, folks, is just as crucial as the healthcare privacy reforms, and any other privacy issue. THE GOVERNMENT HAS NO RIGHT TO USE ANY FORCE TO VIOLATE OUR PRIVACY OR OUR INDIVIDUAL RIGHT TO MAKE RESPONSIBLE PERSONAL CHOICES.

And now, to find out more...(the search begins)


farmer, vet and feeder of all animals said...

"Often legislation is a REACTION rather than a solution"

Very good way of putting it Robbyn. I will have to remember that for the future. From the things I read, and hear what others say, I would say you are right on the mark with that statement.


Robbyn said...

Thanks, Monica...I'll have to give the credit for that one where's it husband frequently says that we should act rather than react. Wise man :)

Phelan said...

great post.