Found this in my email inbox, from our local chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Legal Defense Fund Moves to Stop Animal ID Program; Files Intent to Sue Letter with USDA and Michigan Department of Agriculture
Falls Church, Virginia, (May 15, 2008)
-- Attorneys for the Farm-to-ConsumerLegal Defense Fund today sent a Notice of Intent to Sue letter to the UnitedStates Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Michigan Department ofAgriculture (MDA) over implementation of the National Animal IdentificationSystem (NAIS), a plan to electronically track every livestock animal in thecountry.
The Notice asks the USDA and MDA to "immediately suspend the funding andimplementation of NAIS," and "fully and fairly examine" whether there is even aneed for such a program.
Taaron Meikle, Fund president, said that contrary to USDA's claim, NAIS will do nothing to protect the health of livestock and poultry. "At a time when food safety and costs are a concern, the USDA has spent over $118 million to promote a program that will burden everyone from pleasure horse owners to ranchers andsmall farmers to individuals who raise a few chickens or steers on their ownland for their own use."Once fully implemented, the NAIS program would require every person who owns even one livestock or poultry animal (a single chicken or a pet pony) to register their property with the state and federal government, to tag each animal, and to report "events" to a database within 24 hours. Reportable events would include such things as a private sale, a state fair, or a horse show.
The Notice charges that USDA has never published rules regarding NAIS, inviolation of the Federal Administrative Procedures Act; has never performed an
Environmental Impact Statement or an Environmental Assessment as required by theNational Environmental Policy Act; is in violation of the Regulatory Flexibility Act that requires them to analyze proposed rules for their impact on small entities and local governments; and violates religious freedoms guaranteed by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. "We also think there are constitutional issues at stake here," Meikle noted. "The requirement to use electronic ear tags or RFID chips violates the religiousbeliefs of some farmers, such as the Amish, and provisions in a memorandum of understanding between the USDA and the MDA could violate the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution by requiring the state to stop and inspectvehicles carrying livestock without a warrant or probable cause."
The MDA has implemented the first two stages of NAIS -property registration and animal identification - for all cattle and farmers across the state as part of its mandatory bovine tuberculosis disease control program, which is mandated by a grant from the USDA.
"While touted as a disease control program, the NAIS will drive many small farmers out of business" Meikle noted, "and burden every person who owns even one horse, chicken, cow, goat, sheep, pig, llama, alpaca, or other livestock animal with expensive and intrusive government regulations.
"Joe Golimbieski, a farmer from Standish, Michigan and Fund member, explains: "The cost of the tags is just the start. We're at the mercy of whatever price the stockyards charge to do the tagging. And our farm doesn't have extra employees to deal with paperwork. NAIS is likely to put us out of business.
"Gary Cox, General Counsel for the Fund, states that "USDA and MDA have exceededtheir authority and they have completely failed to follow the proper procedures. We are calling on the agencies to immediately halt implementation of the programor face appropriate action. "The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund defends the rights of farmers to produceand sell the products of their farms and gardens directly to consumers, and the rights of consumers to obtain food directly from farmers engaged in nontoxic,environmentally friendly agriculture.
Concerned citizens can support the Fund byjoining at www.farmtoconsumer.org or by contacting the Fund at 703-208-FARM.
The Fund's sister organization, the Farm-to-Consumer Foundation(www.farmtoconsumerfoundation.org), works to support farmers engaged insustainable farm stewardship and to promote consumer access to local,nutrient-dense food.
Editor's Note: The Notice of Intent to Sue the (USDA) and (MDA) is available atwww.farmtoconsumer.org